Summer Essential: The Front Yard Picnic

Hi friends!  I’ve written about how our priorities have shifted over the years quite a few times- how we’ve turned our attention away from seeking satisfaction from things towards seeking happiness from experiences.  I was in a bit of a race with myself in the past- I wanted more success, more clothes, new things to decorate our house with.  None of which is a problem except for that it distracted me from enjoying what I have, and from…well, having as much fun as I’d like!  I feel more grounded, content, and at peace since we’ve made these changes.  I’m a work in progress of course, but I definitely value my time differently and you won’t find me spending it chasing the next must-have thing with the intensity I did before.  You WILL find me plotting more ways to enjoy our life!

One of the things that happened when we moved into our current house a bit over two years ago is that we made friends with quite a few of our neighbors.  This might not seem like a big deal to some of you but neither Lou nor I had experienced neighbor friends in our adult life and it turns out these relationships bring so much goodness to our days and enrich our time here on this big ol earth in ways we couldn’t have imagined.  We’re kind of obsessed with these neighbors of ours!  Every few months we host a s’mores night in our front yard- wine for the adults, s’mores for the kiddos and any soul who happens to walk by is invited to join.  It’s such a fun cast of characters and I love watching the kids play into the night- they’re living my childhood dreams of endless summer!  We’ve been wanting to add another celebration to the mix for the summer season- something a bit healthier and geared more towards the adults.  Which brings me to our newest tradition- the front yard picnic!

Gathering on blankets spread on our lawn with neighbors is the perfect way to enjoy my  summer (and life) essentials: great conversation, delicious food and drinks, summer sunshine and belly laughs!  The menu for our front yard picnic is simple, quick to throw together and most importantly: totally yummy and fun!  Sandwiches are my favorite picnic food- probably because they’re a treat I don’t indulge in too often but really, really love.  I made two kinds that celebrate what’s in season, one with heirloom tomato, pesto and ricotta, another with fig, goat cheese, mint and honey.  Alongside the sandwiches I threw together a simple green salad, bowls filled with popcorn and sweet potato chips, cherries, watermelon, berries, figs, pistachios, and saltwater taffy rounded out the nibbles.  For drinks, a selection of Teas’ Tea– my favorite for their simple Organic ingredients and bright, fresh flavor!  The Rose Green Tea is my personal fave.  They’re also what I’m sipping on when I hit my afternoon wall and need a little treat to help perk me up!

I hope this post inspires you to get together with friends and enjoy the season!  And if you don’t already know your neighbors, may I suggest a front yard picnic as a way to meet them?  Who knows what goodness they may bring into your life…  xx- Sarah

This post was sponsored by Teas’Tea, thank you so much for supporting our sponsors!


Easy Summer Entertaining With American Express


Hi friends!  I’m excited to share today’s post with you- I’ve got the makings of a beautiful Mediterranean dinner party here to inspire your own backyard summer entertaining as these long hot days beg to be celebrated with friends and family!  I created a menu that keeps your oven off and kitchen labor to a minimum, but will still provide a delicious, memorable evening for your loved ones.  The trick- seasonal produce that’s fresh and beautiful, it’ll save you the trouble of hours of prep time!

Speaking of saving, Lou and I have been watching our spending in ways we never have before now that we’ve got a little one on the way and find ourselves all of a sudden facing things like preschool tuition (I swear I had no idea that was even a thing), saving for college and the general financial responsibility of providing for this little guy who will be joining us in the next few months. As we make these adjustments I’ll be finding ways to make every penny count- including using my Blue Cash Everyday card from American Express, which that offers a host of savings opportunities, including 3% cash back on groceries!  You can bet I’m happy for that 3% back when I’m shopping for summer soirees, PLUS the $250 I will earn back if I spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership!  Click through to see all of the dishes and decor, with details on how to make everything below.  Hope you love, and happy entertaining!!!  xx- Sarah

This post was produced in partnership with American Express.  Thank you for supporting our sponsors!

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The Art of Charcuterie


Happy Monday everyone, I hope you had a great weekend!  Today I want to talk about the fine art of a charcuterie board.  Truth be told if I could I’d eat nothing but cheese and fruit, crackers, crostini, olives and pickled everything for every meal for the rest of my life.  It’s my favorite way to eat- a nibble of this, a nibble of that, A MOUTHFUL OF CHEESE.  Ha!!!  In all seriousness though, there’s something so delightfully indulgent about a massive display and sitting down with friends to enjoy it- and it’s actually not a ton of work to prepare, but will make your guests worship you like a culinary goddess!  Below is my list of must-haves for a charcuterie, I hope this inspires your own decadent soirees!  xx- Sarah  {This post was produced in collaboration with Anthropologie}

1. At least three kinds of cheeses is my minimum for a great spread.  I look for pasture raised, organic cheese at Whole Foods and start there- asking for samples and choosing my favorites based on availability.  Generally speaking I like a hard cheese (like Parmigiano Reggiano or Gouda), a soft cheese (like a Brie or Camembert) and a stinky cheese (like Blue Stilton or Roquefort)

2.  Fresh veggies and fruit- I like to mix up the fruit and veggies I add to my boards based on the season, but some of my favorites are:  stone fruit (peaches, cherries, nectarines, apricots), grapes, pomegranates, figs, apples, berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries).  With colorful variety of in season fruits you can’t go wrong!  Sometimes I’ll include dried fruits as well.  For veggies I love:  carrots, snap peas, bell peppers, radishes, cherry tomatoes, celery (with the leaves) and green beans.

3. 2 kinds of olives- I love  dry cured black  and Castelveltrano olives.  YUM!

4. Pickled somethings-  I am always on the hunt for a pickled something to add to a charcuterie board.  This one features spicy pickled green beans, caper berries, and Peruvian pickled peppers.  The kick that they bring to the table is just so tasty and so needed!  I’ve also been known to have bowls of pepperocini, and Cornichons.   My love for all things pickled is vast.

5. Crackers and bread-  These are my favorite crackers these days. Not only are they delicious but they’re SO pretty!  I also love grilling well-buttered slices from a baguette.

6. Nuts-  Marcona almonds (if you haven’t had them you MUST!), walnuts, pistachios, almonds, and pecans all make great additions to a charcuteries spread.  Bonus if they’re seasoned!  They’re the perfect nibble in between all of the sweet, sour and savory.

7. Fig jam & honey-  A touch of sweet spread onto a crisp or baguette with cheese over the top may be my perfect bite, so I always have a fig jam and a bit of honey on display to accommodate!

8 Hummus or baba ganoush- These two items make me feel as if I’ve eaten a proper meal- they add sustenance to the nibbling!  Here is my favorite hummus recipe and here is my favorite baba ghanoush recipe!

9.  Crostinis aren’t a must but they sure do add a little something something!  I grilled buttered baguette slices and made the following three variations:  sundried tomato and basil, peach with burrata and basil, mint with walnut, feta and a drizzle of honey.  They take minutes to put together and are such a treat!

10.  Garnishes – The pretty little bits that fill up space and add color, texture and finesse to your boards…. I love rosemary sprigs, flowers, and whole pieces of fruit.

My tips for assembly:  I love a board that’s overflowing, and I’m not a person that cares about foods touching, so I tend to pile on the goodness!  Start by pacing your cheeses and adding fruits, crackers, and veggies.  Fill in all the holes with nuts and garnish!  Don’t be too precious about it, have fun with it, and most of all- enjoy every last bite of it!

Styling sources:  marble and cheese board, cheese knives, wine glasses, bread basket, water pitcher  (all of the other wooden cutting boards will be available at Shop A House in the Hills soon!

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Holiday Table 2014


I’ve been imagining this table in my mind for so many months now that I could just pinch myself that I’ve finally gathered everything to bring my imagination to life!  Putting together table design for the holidays is at the top of my Fun List!  And for months I imagined black and walnut and copper coming together with Eucalyptus and pomegranate to make a romantic, festive, dream of a table.  I’ve been posting teasers on my Instagram like my life depends on it (it definitely does not).  Without further ado, more photos and a full list of sources!  I hope it provides some inspiration for your own holiday table!!  xx- Sarah  ps- a lot of this table is from West Elm, and a lot of it is ON SALE!!!!

plates, salad plates, bowls: West Elm, copper chargers: vintage (found on Etsy), flatware: Hostess Haven, napkins: Homemade (thick, high quality linen cut to size), salad bowl: Rose and Fitzgerald (serving set is vintage), salad bowl + serving spoons: Primitive Reserve, salt bowls: West Elm, glasses: West Elm + vintage, marble candle tray and candles: West Elm (candles here), crystal votive holders: West Elm, food: Red Kuri Squash and Kale Salad (similar here), Beet and Mache salad (more beet salads here)


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Weeknight Dining With Chateau Ste. Michelle


Happy Friday my friends, I hope you have lots of fun planned for the weekend ahead.  Today I’m sharing one of my secrets for a happy life- making the ordinary feel special!  Some nights it’s all we can do to heat up some leftovers and plop ourselves at the table for a meal!  But other nights we love to prepare a quick and easy meal like the one shown that feels decadent and special.  Add a great bottle of wine and some gold flatware and just like that, dinner becomes festive!  And really, with Lou at the grill and me doing a little prep in the kitchen this meal is thrown together in no time at all.  Simple food, the best company and a bottle of wine makes for the perfect meal in my book.

So here’s what’s included in this dinner:  a grilled corn and peach salad (recipe after the jump), grilled eggplant, grilled zucchini, a baguette, green olives, hummus, olive tapenade, and Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc.  Simple, healthy, delicious.  Do you do things at your house to make weeknights feel special?  It makes a world of difference!  So here’s #AToastTo simple pleasures!  Pop on over here to share your Toast for a chance to win a trip to the summer concert series at Chateau Ste. Michelle!  xx- Sarah

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This post was sponsored by Chateau Ste. Michelle.  Thank you for supporting our sponsors!

Grilled Corn and Peach Salad

Grilled Corn and Peach Salad


  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 1 1/2 fresh ripe peaches, pitted and sliced
  • 2 ears grilled corn
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium shallot, finely diced
  • Juice of two sweet oranges
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • Prepare the dressing by combining the shallot, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, orange juice and salt. Taste and adjust if you prefer it to be sweeter or more acidic.
  • To prepare the salad clean and dry watercress, removing roots if applicable.
  • Remove husks from corn and grill, giving them a slight charr.
  • Combine watercress and peach slices in a large serving bowl.
  • When corn has cooled enough to handle, use a knife to cut kernels off and add to the salad.
  • Dress to your preference, sprinkle with finishing salt and add a little fresh cracked pepper if you please!
  • Enjoy!



So this is the scenario: you have friends coming over for dinner.  You’ve been running around after work trying to get everything ready for dinner, your hair is a mess and you realize that you haven’t thought about what everyone can snack on pre- dinner.  AND THEN- THIS RECIPE SWOOPS IN AND SAVES THE DAY!  A five ingredient, super simple, throw-together breeze of a dip that TASTES LIKE IT CAME FROM THE ARTICHOKE GODS.  Serve it with some of these tasty (gluten free!) flax seed crackers from Blue Diamond Almonds.  And now you have something to serve that will wow AND time to fix your hair.  The only thing missing is your cape!  xx- Sarah


This post was produced in partnership with Blue Diamond Almonds, all thoughts and opinions are my own!

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