Monthly Archives: July 2012

Thanksgiving in July

Hold the phone. You mean to tell me I can get a turkey dinner, as in Thanksgiving dinner all year long? This is probably the best thing to come to summer since Holiday movies airing on TV in July. There is no need to wait for November; you can have this stuff any time of year. I just found out about this and I have to share it:

Turkey Breast, Magic Mashed Potatoes, Apple Sage Stuffing, Gravy and Cranberry Sauce for a family of 6!

This could lead you to ask yourself, “Self, what other Thanksgiving traditions can I carry out in July?”

  • Canned Food Drives. You always see big bins for canned food during the holidays but none in July! Take up a collection in your neighborhood, church, office, PTA meeting, soccer games and anywhere else you can think of and take it down to your local food bank.
  • T-day themed art projects. Sit the kids down with a glue stick, construction paper, glitter, markers and other art supplies with a paper cutout of their hand and give Mr. Gobble some sweet sunglasses or a Hawaiian shirt for Thanksgiving in July!
  • Send out thank you cards. Your dinner may be small and you may not have aunts, uncles or your cousin Sally with her new husband and 3 kids (who just won’t calm down) for the Thanksgiving feast but you can give thanks by sending out some nice notes. Send one to the neighbors who brought in your mail when you went out of town, your car-pool buddy or the lady who always brings those delicious muffins in to work. It’s never too late or early to say thanks.

Next, instead of a traditional pecan pie, make a pecan pie sundae for dessert!

Pecan Pie Sundae

2 srvg. Pecan Pie, 1 pie, thawed

Vanilla Frozen Yogurt

Whipped Cream

Alternate scoops of vanilla frozen yogurt, and scoops of pecan pie. Serve with whipped cream.

Happy Thanksgiving inJuly!!

Mariel, blogger


Top 5 Picks for a Dream Kitchen

Designing your dream kitchen sounds like an easy task … until you sit down and try to put it all on paper. Suddenly there are too many choices to make and it can be hard to even know which decisions to make. How it looks and functions are probably the most important factors. Of course, this is where your individuality comes into play.

In order to help make sense of it all, here are a few top picks other homeowners have made to create their dream kitchen.

#1: The Perfect Range

For most cooks there are certain details that go into the perfect range. For one thing there should be a way to grill on the stove in addition to cook, bake, fry and boil. For the ultimate in energy saving with cooking efficiency, you would probably also like the induction stovetop paired with a convection oven. Also in order to rid the kitchen and home of cooking odors, try a down draft system.

#2: Countertops

Marble and granite are probably the most sought after materials to use for countertops. In fact, this is certainly one of those items that ends up on almost all top picks for dream kitchens. These materials are sturdy, easy to clean and look stunning in your ideal kitchen. You can compare prices if you click here. Other top picks include quartz or stainless steel. Your budget and the look you want will determine which one is right for you.

#3: The Coolest Fridge

Looking cool is as important as being cool when it comes to a top pick for a refrigerator. For that reason anything stainless steel is usually a top choice. Aside from that usually the French door system with a bottom drawer freezer is the way to go. Add features such as a humidity-controlled crisper, wine chiller and ice maker with a water dispenser and you have a bit of refrigerator utopia.

#4: Ultimate Dishwasher

For the best dishwasher it is all about energy efficiency and high quality performance topped off with refined style. Again stainless steel is also a common popular choice for this appliance, although it depends on your taste. Consider options such as a double drawer washer with small load option and sanitization, and you could have a dishwasher worthy of making it into your dream kitchen.

#5: Smart Design and Layout

In addition to the numerous top appliances you can have, design and layout is also important. Saving space and creating the best functionality is key here. Lighting, counter space and cabinets are just a few of the main components that go into making the most of a kitchen. Even large kitchens should be designed to make the most of the space in order to have storage for everything. Also, having easy access to what you need while cooking is crucial, so have plenty of pull out storage as well.

Although each person may have a different idea of what the perfect kitchen (as well as the perfect meal)  is, these should give you some ideas of what to include.


15 Tips for a Perfect Summer Dinner Party

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There’s a lot to be said for a good old fashioned dinner party – it never goes out of style!

Whether you want to introduce people you know, or just find an excuse to get all your friends together again, here are my top tips to make sure your dinner party is a success…

1. Set the Mood

Get everyone into the party spirit from the moment they arrive with well thought-out decor. I can’t stress enough how important it is to tidy to perfection! When you’ve got a beautiful blank canvas, start filling it in again with posh crockery, and dim the lights down low if it’s an evening dinner.

2. Go Outdoors

Since it’s the summer, why not take advantage of the mild weather and move the party outdoors? Lay your garden furniture sets with your finest tableware, then string fairy lights through the trees or hang jars from the branches with a candle in each, for a romantic and magical setting everyone will love?

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3. Send Invites

Forgo emails or texts and do things the good old fashioned way, with a hand-written invite sent by snail mail. It will make your invitees feel super special, and look like you’ve put more thought and effort into the dinner!

4. Create a Playlist

Music really helps to set the tone of the evening, but you don’t want to be jumping up every five minutes to switch tracks. Create a long playlist and then play it quietly in the background – the guests need to be able to hear each other! Add a relaxed, summery feel with chilled-out Cafe del Mar tracks.

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5. Start Early

You don’t want to be rushing around trying to finish the food, tidy up and get dressed when the first guests arrive – and remember they may show up early! Plan the party for a day you know you’ll have time (not when you have a big deadline at work that could overrun!) and start preparations well in advance.

6. Don’t Experiment

It can be tempting to try and go all out with the menu, but unless you’re a gourmet chef it’s best to stick to tried and tested recipes – or have a trial run a few days before!


7. Create a Sharing Platter

Start the meal off with a platter of hors d’œuvres in the center of the table, or Spanish-style tapas in ceramic bowls – not only will it get the conversation going, it will give you plenty of time to add the finishing touches to the main course.


8. Turn Your Phone Off

Nothing kills a party flat like modern technology! Switch your phone to silent and ask your guests to do the same – pop a ‘no phones allowed’ message in fancy writing on your invites as a polite way to ask for this!

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9. Keep Centerpieces Low

Don’t go overboard with the centerpieces – a beautiful, floral arrangement or unique sculpture adds to the theme or decor, but if it’s so tall people can see across the table you’ll be getting in the way of good conversation!


10. Dress Up

A dinner party is the perfect excuse to dress up, plus it helps to set the party mood! So tell your guests to dress nice, then pop on your best cocktail dress and heels!


12. Have a Backup

If this is your first time hosting a dinner party, or you’re something of a disaster in the kitchen, make sure you have a Plan B in case it all goes wrong – stock the fridge with prepared meals that can be served in an emergency. Plus if you hide the packaging no one need ever know…


12. Keep Snacks on Hand

It’s a good idea to have small snacks dotted around the table in case guests get peckish waiting for your culinary delights. Simple things like crisps and peanuts suddenly become gourmet when you pop them in fancy bowls –whatever you do, don’t put garish crisp packets on the table!


13. Don’t Forget the Drinks

Nothing gets the conversation flowing like alcohol, so make sure you’ve got a fully-stocked bar. You could even set up a self-serving bar in one corner with summer-inspired recipe cards (strawberry champagne anyone?) and let the guests have fun making their own cocktails! Don’t forget to have a non-alcoholic option or two available also – no one likes to be stuck drinking tap water all night!

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14. Introduce Guests

Plan out your seating arrangement in advance and add hand-written name placards to each place setting. Encourage conversation by seating everyone by one person they know and one person you think they’d like to know.

15. Add Small Touches

Last but not least, it’s the tiny things that can really make a big difference. Don’t skimp on the details – remember the small touches such as warmed plates, ribbons tied around cutlery or even little, gift-wrapped party favors for the guests to take home!

Do you have any tips of your own to add?


Elise Lévêque is a bubbly freelance writer who loves to put her creative skills to create gorgeous dinner party settings for friends and family to enjoy. She blogs for Capital Gardens, where she picks up outdoor lights and ornaments to decorate for garden dinner parties!


Lose weight and feel great (even at middle age!)

Weight loss – and that healthy, glowing, energetic I-can-take-on-the-world feeling that comes with being happy and healthy – doesn’t have to be a wistful thought, no matter what age you might be.

While it’s certainly easier to lose, and keep off, weight when you’re younger, it’s not only possible, but plausible, to do so at any age with a little hard work, dedication, and, of course, healthy meals.

Quality over Quantity

It’s not always about how much you eat, but what you eat. It’s entirely possible to eat an abundance of food, and until you’re satisfied, while still losing weight and feeling amazing. The key is selecting healthy, wholesome, and nutritious food as opposed to things that are high in fat, sugar, or empty calories. Ensure you’re eating healthy meals on a regular basis will help you lose weight, and more importantly, keep it off.

Ensure You’re Getting Protein

Ensure you’re getting enough protein – protein is responsible for our bodies growth and maintenance, especially when it comes to bone and muscle. Needless to say, ensuring we get enough protein (either plant or animal based, or both) is paramount when trying to lose weight. Here at, we not only have an array of mouth-watering, healthy meals and healthy meal ideas, but we have ones chock full of protein too, including meal packs averaging between 19-30 grams of protein per meal!

Indulge on Occasion

It’s okay to have a sweet treat every now and then, as long as it doesn’t become an everyday habit or binge fest. You shouldn’t feel guilty for indulging in your favorite sinful snack, even when on a weight loss journey, as long as you’re still eating healthy meals.

By ensuring you’re fueling your body with the proper nutrients you need through our weight loss meals, your own healthy meal concoctions, or with a combination of both, you’ll be well on your way to feeling – and looking – amazing at any age.


Matching Beer with Food

Guest post by Dain Turner

Ask anyone what food beer goes good with and 99% of the time you’ll get pizza as the answer, but there are really a lot of other foods that go well with beer, depending on what type of beer you’re drinking.

There are so many different type of beer classified by taste, texture, aroma, brewing process, etc., that it would literally take up a book. But since this is a blog post, we’re going to keep it simple and use the all familiar EBU and IBU values. (?!?) Ok, so maybe they’re not familiar at all, but basically it’s a scale that rates the bitterness of beers.

So, why does beer go so well with pizza? It’s the tomato sauce on the pizza that compliments the bitterness of the beer and actually enhances the flavor, and vise versa. However, the beer you ‘re slugging down with the pizza would probably not go well with foods with a deeper taste. Yes, I know we were going to keep it simple and just talk about bitterness, but this will be easier with pictures. Everything’s easier with pictures.

If you follow this easy guide, you can’t go wrong. Flatbread (Pizza)
Light beer (meaning less bitter or sweet):
Pizza(DUH)Hamburgers (drooling DUH)Dishes with curry., like curry chickenSpicy foods. Think Mexican dishes, Thai dishes, etc.

Braised Beef Top Blade in Beer & Wine Sauce
Dark (heavy beer):
Stew, Beef dishes, Barbeque Pan-seared Prawns
Stout (dry):
Shrimp, Oysters, Lobster

At the end of the day, I think most beer drinkers would be happy just drinking beer, but if you want to do it right, just follow the guide and you might not even fall off your bar stool.