Getting together with friends and family over food, has never been easier! Here are 5 Tips for Hosting an Easy Summer BBQ!
– – – – – –
I think it’s obvious that I love to cook and bake, but at the same time I’m the first person to admit that there are times when it’s just nice to buy things that are ready to go. This is especially true for last minute gatherings with friends and family…impromptu BBQ’s on summer nights are the best. So I gathered some friends together for a BBQ and we tried out some of President’s Choice new Canadiana themed food from the PC Insider’s Collection!
Here are 5 tips to make these last minute get togethers fun and stress free!
1. Buy everything that you can
Sometimes it’s just nice, and necessary, to buy everything that you need to host a BBQ with friends. It takes the load off and means that you don’t have to spend the day in the kitchen preparing dinner! We bought premade burgers, smokies, chips, buns, drinks dessert and Maple Marshmallow s’more ingredients! I did make a pasta salad, but only because I wanted to!
Host everything outdoors, this makes clean up so easy! Then throw on a table cloth, put out paper plates, napkins and cutlery. Set out cushions for comfort, string some lights around your patio, light candles and don’t forget to keep the bugs away with a citronella candle. An easy breezy night.
5. Don’t stress
But most of all, don’t stress. Nights like these are supposed to be fun. That’s why you’re buying what you need…so you can sit back, relax and enjoy your impromptu night with friends.
Have a delicious day!
Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by President’s Choice, owned by Loblaw Companies Limited. But as always the pictures, my voice, all content, and opinions are mine alone. Happy Summer! xo
Make your backyard a twinkly retreat with some quick and simple ideas using string lights!
– – – – – –
This post has been sponsored by Wayfair Canada! But as always all thoughts, ideas, opinions and such are my own.
One of the nicest things about summer nights, is being able to sit out on the deck under all of our twinkly lights. There’s just something so pretty about the light they cast…it almost feels as if we’re sitting in our own little fairy garden.
The best thing about using string lights for lighting is how easy they are to hang. Pretty much anywhere you would like them, you can hang them. My favourite though, is to drape them along sort of droopy looking, as opposed to a straight line.
Last summer I put together the easiest patio light project and I still love it SO much. Above is a picture of the lights strung around our deck space, hung from wooden poles on each of the corners. I used to just go out and sit there under all the lights. Pretty pretty pretty.
This year I’ve added more string lights, but this time I have draped them all along our newly painted fence. It feels like a magic garden out here now. All. The. Lights.
There really isn’t an easier way to add such pretty ambient lighting to a yard! I used the same hooks along the fence post, as I used for my project last year. The hooks are great because you can put up and take down the strings of lights when ever you need to. So pretty. You can find me here just chilling.
If you have been dreaming of stringing lights in your garden space, don’t wait another minute! Just hang them. You won’t regret all your lovely nights under their twinkle. Here are more ideas of where you can hang string lights:
7 Ways to String Lights in your Backyard:
String lights along your fence.
Hang strings of lights from poles placed on the corners of your deck.
Run lights along your deck railing.
Hang lights back and forth along the inside your deck pergola or gazebo.
String lights in backyard trees.
String lights from a tree to your deck space, so your yard is lit up.
Hang lights on your patio umbrella.
String Light Ideas:
There are so many different kinds of string lights to choose from. Here are some fun examples from Wayfair (each of the picture squares are clickable):
Have an inspired day!
This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting ‘A Pretty Life’ blog!
Gardening with Kids can be fun! Get them involved in planting seeds, flowers and a fruit and vegetable garden. It’s so good for kids to get first hand experience with how to grow a garden!
– – – – –
Can you believe that it’s already time to start planting our gardens? The start of gardening season sneaks up on me every year, and I think it’s because our transition from winter to spring is not very obvious. One day it’s spring, the next day it’s winter. Literally. But then it happens, all of a sudden it’s May Long weekend, and suddenly we have permission to garden. Oh the relief! So I burn off to the garden centre with all the optimism a Canadian feels once winter is truly and finally behind them. Because if the garden centre is ready and full of plants, it’s time right?! Yes.
So on a sunny and warm morning this week, I ventured off to our local PC® Garden Centre and filled my cart. It was one of those trips where I told myself that I would only get a few things, but then left with a trunk full of plants…and maybe the front seat too. But who’s counting? 😉
Who can resist colourful planters full of beautiful and lush flowers? Not this gal. Nope, I left with 3 of these planters for our deck. I just loved the pink and purple combo…
But my real goal on this trip was to gather plants for our edible garden. The kids and I have been talking about planting an edible garden on our deck this year, and they want to be involved! When kids want to help in the garden, I say let them! Especially when it comes to growing fruits and vegetables. I think it’s really important for kids to see and feel where food comes from. It’s just too easy for us to get our veggies and fruits from the grocery store, so any chance I get to have the kids experience where food comes from, I take it.
This season PC® Garden Centres are full of bright and colourful planters, ready to grow. We were immediately drawn to the colour co-ordinated pots…kids love the bright visuals! Red cages, red tomatoes, into the cart they go. So fun.
Then we loaded up the cart with seeds, companion flowers like marigolds and pansies, a flat of strawberries, a Garden Salad pot, tomato plants, fertilizer and colourful pots. Now we’re all set to get planting our edible garden! Although, I do have one more trip to make, and that is to go get the new PC® Triple Strawberry Combo…this collection contains three plants, one of each of Framberries, Pineberries and Strawberry Seaburst (you can see them in the online garden book here). One of the things I love most about the PC® Garden Centres are their unique varieties of plants like these strawberries. I always know each year when I visit, there will be something new.
Another new plant that I couldn’t resist were these petunias! Aren’t they amazing? They look like they were splashed with bleach. So awesome. I bought 2 baskets 😉
My kid on weed duty. Every kid needs to experience lawn dandelion removal in their child hood. Hahaha!
Tips for Gardening with Kids:
Make it fun! Let them pick plant varieties that appeal to them.
Give your kids a special pot to tend. Make them responsible for planting and keeping it watered!
Don’t stress. You have your garden, let them have theirs (even one special pot).
Get them involved with the harvest! Having a fresh salad tonight? Let them pick the lettuce. Need herbs? Let them pick them from the pots. It’s so good for kids to see where real food comes from.
Make it colourful! Kids love colour! Colourful pots, colourful flowers.
This is the special pot my 13 year old son picked! I love this bright and cheery purple and green combo! I see gardening in his future. Love that.
Will you be gardening with your kids this year? Any tips?
Disclosure: I was compensated to write this post for PC® Garden Centres, but as always all thoughts, images and words are my own. They really have beautiful plants in their garden centres!
These Heart Shaped Pizzas with Heart Shaped Pepperoni are perfect for Valentine’s Day! And with this recipe, you can make the dough with your bread machine! Easy and delicious.
– – – – – –
Valentine’s Day is coming soon! Do you celebrate? Decorate? Or make yummy treats? If you’re looking for some ideas for love day, I’m hoping today’s blog post will get you into the Valentine’s Day frame of mind! I’ve joined together with 24 talented Canadian bloggers to bring you a total of 25 amazing Valentine’s Day projects, with everything from recipes, table settings, drinks, wreaths, crafts, decorating ideas…you name it, it’s here! You will find images and links to all the amazing projects created just for you, at the bottom of this post. I love bloggers.
For my contribution to this collaboration I created these Heart Shaped Pizzas for Valentine’s Day. I love to make themed pizzas for different holidays…I made this ghost pizza for Halloween, and now these heart pizzas for love day. Come see how I made them!
Pizza is always a favourite around here, especially homemade pizza! You just can’t beat the taste of a homemade crust…this crust recipe is crunchy, yet light, and so flavourful. But one of the best things about it, is that you can make it in the bread machine. SO easy.
To make these pizzas festive and special just for Valentine’s Day, not only did I shape the dough into hearts, but I also cut the pepperoni into heart shapes using a small cookie cutter. Aren’t they deliciously adorable?! Has pepperoni ever looked more cute?
After stretching the homemade pizza dough into hearts, I spread on some pizza sauce. You can use either homemade or pre-made pizza sauce, I use pre-made sauce because it’s easy. Eventually I hope to create an easy homemade sauce recipe, but for now, pre-made works great!
After I cut out the heart shaped pepperonis, there were quite a few leftover pieces. I didn’t want to waste this pepperoni so I added them under the cheese so you couldn’t see it, but makes these pizzas extra pepperoni-y! SO good.
Sprinkle on some cheese. Ok, A LOT of cheese. #allthecheese
And now to decorate! These heart shaped pepperonis are the cutest.
Bake and wait as your cheesy pepperoni pizza bakes and bubbles away in your oven. It’s worth the wait.
Ready to eat…yummmmmmmm
Even after baking the pizzas the heart shaped pepperonis hold their shape really nicely. Such a fun and a great way to enjoy a family Valentine’s Day dinner!
Heart Shaped Pizzas for Valentine's Day
These Heart Shaped Pizzas are perfect for Valentine's Day. With this recipe, you can make the dough with your bread machine!
Pizza Dough Ingredients:
2 3/4cupall purpose flour
1 1/4tspbread machine yeast
3cupsgrated mozzarella cheese
1cuppizza sauce (more if needed)
pepperoni, cut into heart shapes (see instructions below)
Making the Pizza Dough:
Add all of the ingredients to your bread machine.
Select the Dough/Pasta cycle (it's usually about a 1 hr and 30 minute cycle).
Once the dough cycle has completed, remove the dough to a surface lightly dusted with flour, and cover with a clean tea towel. Let rise for 15 minutes.
Roll out and shape the dough into one large heart shape, or 3 medium hearts, then transfer to a prepared baking sheet. (I prepare a baking sheet with a light layer of olive oil, or some corn meal.)
Assembling the Pizzas:
To make the pepperoni hearts, use a small heart shaped cookie cutter and cut out the hearts. Set aside.
Spread the pizza sauce onto the heart shaped dough bases..
Add the pepperoni extras from cutting out the heart shapes (not the hearts, but the edges so you don't waste any pepperoni). See picture.
Sprinkle on the grated cheese.
Add the pepperoni hearts.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling.
PIN this to save and make for later!
25 Sweet Valentine’s Day Ideas
Now it’s time to see more fantastic Valentine’s Day ideas! I hope you get a chance to visit the all of the talented bloggers listed below, as they share their projects over the course of the next week! There are some ah-mazing projects. You can also follow along on Instagram with the #CBValentinesDay hashtag!
Embrace winter and decorate your home to reflect this beautiful season!
– – – – – –
This year during the week between Christmas and New Years I took down all of my Christmas decorations. It seemed like the perfect time to get our house back in order. There’s just something so beautiful about that lull between holidays, the pressure of Christmas is off, the fridge is stocked with delicious holiday leftovers…but the best part is that we never have much on our schedule so we’re sloooooow moving. The kids are busy with their Christmas gifts, and I get busy getting my house cleaned and ready for January. One of my most favourite feelings is that one when the house is a clean slate again…the tree is down, the decorations are put away, and now I have a fresh start. I love January.
At this point many people start decorating for Valentine’s Day, but I just can’t, it’s too early. I don’t want to move too fast into the next holiday, so instead, this is the time of year when I choose to embrace winter. Currently we are in a deep freeze with more snow in the forecast, so there is no denying winter is here to stay for a while. And instead of dreading it, we embrace it, both outdoors and indoors. Outside we’ve been busy snowshoeing, skating, walking, and tobogganing, and inside we’re cozying up on the couch with homemade hot chocolate, fires and tonnes of Netflix.
So come inside my winter home, it’s fresh and cozy in here.
Winter Living Room Decorating
The nice thing about decorating for winter is the use of bright and fresh winter colours like white and and icy shades of blue. These colours create such a cheery and light space.
I started with my mantel which is the focus of our living room area. I wanted to keep it simple and light so I didn’t do much decorating here. I added in natural elements like pine cones and birch branches, which both are things I love so much in home decor. I used many of the same elements on my Winter Porch!
I actually kept a couple of things out from my Christmas decor…I left the pinecone garland on the mantle, and kept out the tree candle holders, but moved them to my bookcases. I think they both work great for winter decorating.
But my favourite part of our winter living room is our couch loaded with soft blankets and tonnes of pillows. I have a thing for throw pillows in case you haven’t noticed! But I love how they look on my couch, and I like to snuggle in with them…my husband not so much, he tends to shove them aside but whatevs. 😉
Molly loves the pillows too. Isn’t she the cutest?
I found the snowy owl and birch tree pillows on clearance at Chapters…they were part of their Christmas decor, but I thought they were perfect for winter…the snowy owl and birch trees are all images of our Canadian winters and I LOVE that.
When I was growing up seeing Snowy Owls swoop between fields was a regular occurrence, so when I saw this pillow I was instantly in love.
Love love love so much.
Fresh and airy, yet comfy. I’m really happy with how it came together, I especially love it at night with the fire going and candles lit. It’s all of this that helps me love January as much as I do.
So there is my winter living room! We’re going to enjoy it for a couple of weeks until I pull out all of the Valentine decorations! Do you decorate for winter? Or do you go straight to Valentine’s Day?
Decorating the Porch for Winter is a great way to embrace this beautiful season and greet your friends & family!
– – – – – – –
Let’s take a little adventure today and visit a couple of beautiful winter porches, and maybe gather some inspiration to decorate your own porch, entryway or front step for winter! I’m participating in a Winter Porch Blog hop with Design, Dining and Diapers and House 214 Design, and we are excited to share our winter decorating with you! Winter is a beautiful time to decorate…
With winter being our most predominant season here, I think we should welcome it with open arms. Or at least a decorated porch! Haha! But honestly, I like welcoming in our different seasons with a little festive decor…it helps break up the monotony of what can feel like a verrrrrrry long winter/spring. And I have to admit the house feels pretty bare after all the Christmas decorations come down. So to keep our home feeling cozy during our winter, I add some winter decorations. I’ve got my living room all decorated, and yesterday I decorated my porch.
Welcome to my Winter Porch!
Because our winter has been SO cold and snowy this year, I decided to decorate to reflect this weather…which I love, I might add! Cold and snow needs cozy and rustic, so that’s how I decorated. And as you can see we have a tonne of snow, and it just keeps coming and coming but I love it.
To decorate this porch space, I decided to ‘shop’ my home, so to speak. My goal this year is to keep things as simple and minimal as I can around here, so that means less shopping for stuff. I have too much stuff already, so I’m just going to try to decorate in new ways with it all. This porch was decorated with items I have already. Love that.
Cozy blankets, pillows, candles, my favourite Sorel winter boots, snowflakes, birch logs and pine cones. Wintery indeed.
What I love most about this space is how quiet and neutral it is. All soft colours that reflect what our winters look like here…white, brown, grey, sparkly. Calming and really lovely. Winter really is a nice season.
Add some light from the candles and this is a lovely winter space.
I love how it all came together…it almost makes me want to sit out here with a cup of hot chocolate. I said almost.
Welcome to my Merry and Bright Christmas Home Tour, I’m so happy to have you here! My home tour is 1 of 29 Canadian Holiday Home Tours hosted by the lovely Christina of The DIY Mommy! 29 homes…isn’t that amazing?! I hope you can take a moment to visit more gorgeous holiday homes…I have the links at the bottom of my post.
So today is my day to share, and I’m so excited that you are here! The halls are all decked out, the fire is lit and our mugs are full of eggnog. It’s a magical time of year isn’t it? Welcome to my holiday home. It’s Christmas all up in here y’all!
And just in time for your visit, it decided to snow. I can’t even tell you how excited this made me! I’m one of those Canadians that absolutely LOVES the snow and the cold, so this was a welcome site to wake up to! And because I love you, I wanted to make sure you saw the snow too…I even barricaded the door for a few hours so no one would put footprints in this picture! True story. You might have seen my picture over on my Facebook page? LOL Since then I changed a few things and added my Winter Wonderland Bottle Brush Wreath to the door, and hung my Vintage Truck Wreath on the light fixture.
So I begin my tour on our front porch…while we may not spend any time out here during the winter because it’s just too darn cold (in fact at this very moment as I write this it’s – 21 degrees C with a – 31 windchill!), but I like my front porch to welcome family and friends to our home in a festive and comforting way. With lights, greenery and plenty of pretty!
This year I have once again embraced traditional colours of Christmas…reds, greens, white…with plaid, faux fur, birch wood and fresh greens. These are the elements I remember from Christmas’s of my childhood, and it makes my heart happy to surround my family in them for Christmas this year.
Now, come on in where’s it’s cozy and warm.
Come on inside…I’ve got a fire going and hot chocolate to warm you up!
First, let’s stop at the office. Last year we had a gorgeous flocked tree in our living space which we absolutely loved, but this year the consensus was to once again have a real tree in the living room. But because I adore my flocked tree SO much, I decided to put it up in our office and I love love it. It’s the nicest lighting to work by…so festive and pretty.
This tree is all decked out in red and white with candy cane ribbon…I just love it.
And as sit in my office this is the view I have of our staircase. Staircases were meant to be decorated with festive garland weren’t they? Now let’s head into the living room where it’s definitely Christmas!
I can’t resist bottle brush trees, so I thought why not put a few out on display? They’re the cutest.
But my favourite space in my Christmas home this year is this little corner in our living room…I love everything about it…our tree, the mantel, our stockings, the plaid pillows…love love love.
And I actually decorated our mantel for Christmas this year! With all the Christmas decorating I do, I tend to overlook my mantel. I think it’s mainly because the tree is such a focus in this room, and I never really knew how to balance it with decorating the mantel…I just didn’t know what to do with it. But this year I had a vision and went with it…and it all started with those adorable skate stockings!
But seriously, these stockings. Aren’t they the cutest?! Why I’ve never hung them on our mantel before, I’ll never understand! They need to be hung because they’re the best.
Then I added more fresh evergreens right onto the mantel ledge…everything is more festive with evergreen branches! And it smells amazing. I love how it came together.
And of course our tree! This year we decided to go back to tradition and get a real tree, and I’m so happy we did. It smells wonderful and looks right at home again in our living room. Our tree is loaded with ornaments of all different shapes, colours, and themes…some are from mine and my husbands childhood, some are the kids, many are homemade by the kids over the years and some are new that I have found and loved along the way. It’s eclectic, meaningful and perfect.
Now it’s time to cozy on up to the fire with a hot cup of tea and enjoy the season.
I love all the lights at night…so does Miss Molly…
So that is my holiday home tour, I hope you enjoyed it and maybe found some inspiration to deck your own halls this season! If you are looking for more ideas for your own space, I hope you can take some time to check out these beautiful Christmas homes that are part of this years Canadian Bloggers Home Tour! I love this tour because I really just enjoy seeing how everyone decorates their home for the season…everyone has such a different style, but they’re all amazing! Another great way is to follow the hashtag #CBHomeTour on Instagram!