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Jo-Anna@APrettyLife

7 Ways to String Lights in your Backyard!

Make your backyard a twinkly retreat with some quick and simple ideas using string lights!

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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.

7 Ways to String Lights in your Backyard!

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.

7 Ways to String Lights in your Backyard!

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.

7 Ways to String Lights in your Backyard!

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.

7 Ways to String Lights in your Backyard!

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.

7 Ways to String Lights in your Backyard!

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!

What’s For Dinner? Homemade Burgers and Fries

A delicious dinner of Homemade Burgers and Fries!  Includes burgers, home fries, a tomato salad and brownies for dessert!

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It’s time again for What’s For Dinner!  Every time I write one of these menu plans, I get reallllly hungry.  This week especially because it features my favourite home made burgers!  Burgers are the best.  And with home fries, it’s like summer on a plate!

This menu is great for any time you are craving burgers, but it’s especially perfect for weekend BBQ’s, and gatherings with friends and family.

Homemade Burgers and Fries Menu

  • Main Dish:  Best Beef Burgers
  • Side Salad:  Fresh Tomato Salad
  • Side Dish:  Home Fries
  • Dessert:  Chocolate Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

Best Beef Burgers

These really are the Best Beef Burgers!  I have been making burgers with this recipe for over 10 years and we just love them.  They’re juicy and so flavourful!

Home Fries

This easy to make Home Fries recipe is the perfect side to burgers!  Just bake them in the oven until they’re nice and crispy…so good.

Fresh Tomato Salad

Add a nice Fresh Tomato Salad, and your burger dinner is complete!  This salad adds just the right amount of crunch and sweet to accompany burgers and fries!

Chocolate Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

And if you can fit it all in after all that food, for dessert you can make this recipe for Chocolate Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies.  These brownies are unbelievably delicious.  SO decadent.

More What’s For Dinner Menu Ideas:

Want more menu ideas?

Sign up for my weekly e-mail and you will have some delicious meal menus delivered to you once a week…complete with a main course, salads or side dishes, and a dessert!  Sign up here!

Have a delicious day!

Gardening with Kids

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!

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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.

Gardening with Kids

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?  😉

Gardening with Kids

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…

Gardening with Kids

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.

Gardening with Kids

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.

Gardening with Kids

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.

Gardening with Kids

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!

Surprising Our Kids with a Springfree Trampoline! And How To Win One of Your Own!

Disclosure:  I am working with Springfree Trampoline as a brand ambassador, and I am excited to share my experiences with you!  As part of this partnership, I have been compensated, but as always, all pictures, views and opinions are my own.  We reaaaaally LOVE our new trampoline!  I even jump on it…shhhh don’t tell anyone.  😉 

Trampolines have been a HUGE part of life over here…my parents bought a trampoline for my sister and I when we were very young and we jumped on it until I moved out to go to university.  True story.  I remember getting up really early in the morning and using the trampoline as a way to exercise.  I have always loved trampolines.  So as soon as our kids were old enough to jump on trampolines we bought one for our backyard.  Even at that time, which was over 10 years ago, trampolines had come a long way from the ones we had as kids.  There were nets and pads so we were good to go, haha!  But it didn’t take long for the nets to disintegrate and the pads fall apart.  In no time we were left with quite a rusty trampoline skeleton.  See below…

Very loved and well used, but it was kind of a disaster.  Nets gone.  Pads gone.  And homemade orange bucket basketball hoop installed, complete with painters tape and twine.  It’s quite the site, no?  Not only an eyesore, but dangerous.  It was time for a new trampoline.

So when the opportunity came to join Springfree as a brand ambassador I was SO excited.  To be able to give my kids a new trampoline that was safe and fully functional was a dream come true for me.  The hardest part was keeping it a secret from them for a few months!  When install day came, I put together a little backyard party just to make them feel extra special.  Complete with cupcakes, flowers, balloons and a brand new Springfree trampoline filled with beach balls.

I could barely stand the wait, as I waited for them to come home from school.  They were going to freak out.

We picked the Jumbo Square Trampoline and added the tgoma game system, as well as the FlexrHoop (a soft and flexible basketball hoop).  It’s a pretty big trampoline, but it fits into our yard nicely, with tonnes of space for lawn and our garden.

When my kids got home they were thrillllllllled!  I even saw some happy tears, which made me more happy than I can even describe.  And needless to say, our days since the trampoline have arrived have been filled with loads of jumping!  Even mom gets out there…  I am so impressed with this trampoline…with everything from the bounce, to the sturdiness of the FlexrNet, to the attached FlexrStep for easy access.  It’s truly an amazing trampoline.  And one of the things I love most about it, is that ALL of my kids use it…even the teenagers.  In fact, they’re on it every day.

Springfree Trampoline Fun Facts:

  • Springfree has been around for over 15 years!
  • There are no springs so that means no dangerous pinch points!
  • You can leave it up all year long, even in the rain and snow.
  • They are the only trampolines on the market that help to eliminate the risks associated with trampoline injuries!

Win your own Springfree Trampoline!

Win a trampoline at the Springfree Birthday Bash:

Springfree is hosting a free family event Friday May 26, at their Springfree Calgary location and you’re invited!  There will be snacks, face painters, balloons and loads of jumping. And everyone who attends the party is entered to win a Springfree Trampoline!

Win a trampoline in the Canada 150 contest:

Springfree is hosting a Canada 150 contest, and 1 lucky winner will receive a fully catered Canada 150 backyard BBQ, hosted by Springfree and champion trampolinist Rosie MacLennan!  AND the winner will also receive a Springfree Trampoline!  All you have to do to enter is put on your best Canada gear and post a photo of yourself ‘Jumping for Canada 150’ in the comments section on the Springfree Facebook page, using the hashtag #SpringInto150 for your chance to win!  The contest runs until May 24th.

Good luck!

Have an inspired day!

Fajita Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

Make this Fajita Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner in less than 1 hour!  One dish means dinner prep and clean up is easier than ever!  Serve with all your favourite fajita toppings!

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This is such a fun way to serve a fajita dinner without all of the work!  Just line a pan with chicken, peppers and onions then season generously with taco seasoning, and you’ve got a Fajita Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner…so easy and delicious.

Fajita Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

This time of year we are SO busy…I mean really, who isn’t?  Soccer, baseball, rugby…whichever sport you family is involved in, is in full force right now.  We have kids in sports 4 days out of the week right now, so for me, menu planning is at the upmost of importance.  And not only meal planning, but quick and healthy ideas.  I need dinner ready in less than one hour, and I need it to be healthy.

Fajita Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

That’s why I love sheet pan dinners so much.  You can add so many fresh and delicious ingredients to a pan, and have it all ready in less than an hour.  So during the time it takes for dinner to cook, I have time to get everyone ready for all of our activities.  But most importantly, we’re not eating fast food on the run.  Just fast healthy food at home.

Fajita Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

This fajita chicken dinner is really simple to make, and so very flavourful. I generously season the chicken and vegetables with my homemade taco seasoning, and the kids love it.  Then I serve everything with taco chips, salsa, and sour cream.  SO good.

Fajita Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

And it smells amazing….

Fajita Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

Feel free to tailor this recipe to your family’s tastebuds!  Add any colour of pepper you like, add more jalapeno peppers…make it your own!  Enjoy!

Print

Fajita Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 5
Author Jo-Anna@APrettyLife

Ingredients

  • 4 - 6 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning (more if you like)
  • 1 or 2 red peppers, sliced
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 1 small or medium jalapeno pepper, sliced
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • fresh ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Arrange the chicken, red peppers and red onion on a sheet pan.

  3. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil, then season generously with the taco seasoning.

  4. If you would like, add slices of the jalapeno pepper onto the chicken breasts.

  5. Drizzle the peppers and onions generously with olive oil, then season with more taco seasoning, and some fresh pepper.

  6. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

  7. Serve with taco chips, salsa, sour cream and any of your favourite fajita toppings!

Sheet Pan Dinner Tips

  • Feel free to use different coloured peppers!  Red, yellow, orange, green.
  • I used my homemade taco seasoning, but you can use a purchased package.
  • I didn’t find it necessary to line my sheet pan with tinfoil or parchment paper, but I have seen this done on other recipes.  None of the ingredients I used stuck to the pan.
  • I use this Nordic Ware sheet pan for my sheet pan dinners.

More Sheet Pan Dinners:

Have a delicious day!

This post contains an affiliate link.  Thank you for supporting A Pretty Life Blog!  xo

This Big Adventure!

I have some exciting news I want to share with you!  Together with my husband, we are the proud new owners of the travel blog This Big Adventure!

So here’s the backstory…I have wanted to incorporate travel into this site for quite a long time.  And over the years I’ve posted a few travel things, but I’ve always felt like this kind of content never really fit in well with what I regularly post here at ‘A Pretty Life’.  I even started a travel Instagram account but it just didn’t feel right.  In the mean time, we’ve been busy traveling with our kids, and exploring everything from our home town, to taking road trips, to seeing the sights, and more, and I’ve been dying to share our experiences.

So when the opportunity came up to buy the established blog, ‘This Big Adventure’ from a friend, who is changing directions with her own blog, I jumped on it.  Like within minutes.  I have always loved this site and LOVED the name…in fact it was really everything I imagined for a family travel site.  So when it became available I knew I had to have it.

This Big Adventure is just under 2 years old, so it has all kinds of fantastic content already…everything from visiting Cuba with kids, to camping in tree cocoons, to picking the right sleeping bags for kids…there’s so much to read!  And now, together with my husband Tobin, we have taken over the helm and will be busy posting more great family travel!  Camping, hiking, bucket list places to visit, travel tips…you name it, we’re going to share it!  And we hope you follow along.

But don’t worry!  I am absolutely still going to be here at ‘A Pretty Life’ sharing delicious recipes, home decor and home DIY projects with you, I’m just adding another blog to our to-do list!   And I’m super excited about it!

This Big Adventure is a space where we can share our love of travel and adventure! We believe adventure can start the moment you step out your front door…from exploring our hometown, taking day trips, weekend camping excursions, or long haul vacations, we love to do it all!

I hope you will follow along as we set you up with all the tips, tricks, and hidden gems that we find along the way!

Follow us along on This Big Adventure here:

Let’s Adventure!

What’s For Dinner? Chili Dinner Menu

Recipe ideas for a Chili Dinner!  A full Chili Dinner Menu, including bread, a side salad and dessert!

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Welcome back to another edition of What’s For Dinner! It’s that time of week, where I get to share another delicious dinner menu idea!  I really enjoy putting these posts together.  They help me to meal plan, and hopefully they help you too!  This weeks menu is for a chili dinner!  The great thing about this menu is that it’s perfect for any time of year…it’s great in the summer, fall or winter.

Chili Dinner Menu

  • Main Dish:  Best Beef Chili
  • Side Salad:  Caesar Salad
  • Bread:  Mozzarella and Parmesan Buttermilk Quick Bread
  • Dessert:  Fresh Fruit Juice Popsicles

Best Beef Chili

This really is the Best Beef Chili. It’s the recipe that I have been using for over 10 years and it turns out delicious every time.  This recipe makes a big batch, so you can use half now, and freeze half for later.  I love double duty recipes.

Mozzarella and Parmesan Buttermilk Quick Bread

I always have to have a bread with my chili.  You can serve buns, or make this Mozzarella and Parmesan Buttermilk Quick Bread.  This is such a great bread with chili.  And the great thing about it, is that you can have it on your table in about 1 hour…no kneading, rising or fussing required…just fresh baked bread ready in an hour!

Caesar Salad

If you want to serve a salad with your chili, this Caesar Salad is perfect.  Crunchy, garlicky and delicious.

Fresh Fruit Juice Popsicles

And for dessert, serve something light and refreshing like these Fresh Fruit Juice Popsicles.  They’re so delicious and much more nutritious than store bought popsicles.  But let’s be real here too…sometimes store bought is just easier.  😉

There you go!  Another complete and delicious dinner!  I hope you love it.

More What’s For Dinner Menu Ideas:

Want more menu ideas?

Sign up for my weekly e-mail and you will have some delicious meal menus delivered to you once a week…complete with a main course, salads or side dishes, and a dessert!  Sign up here: https://madmimi.com/signups/142222/join

Have a delicious day!