Category : Style

The sad state of summer manicures

Sand and water can take a toll on typical nail polish. Between the chlorine in pools, the grittiness of sand accompanying a day at the beach and the four hundred hand washings necessary due to sunscreen application, your basic manicure doesn’t stand a chance. If you don’t want Monday’s manicure to fall apart by Wednesday, consider a gel manicure. The light-cured polish lasts much longer, and savvy moms can achieve a gel manicure at home — with a few fabulous products.

gel nail polish
Salon quality at home

If you’ve been loving your salon gel manicures and can’t wait to bring the process home, the Gelish Basix Kit is a fabulous choice (Sally Beauty Supply, $55). Used by many salons, you can get salon-perfect nails without leaving the house with the Gelish MINI Pro LED Curing Light (Sally Beauty Supply, $75).


The easiest gel manicure to remove

The Kiss Gel Polish Color Gel Starter System comes with almost everything you need to get perfect nails at home (Beauty Online Supply, $20). You’ll need to invest in the Everlasting Pro LED Gel Lamp to complete the system, but the Kiss system provides a gorgeous, shiny manicure that’s one of the easiest to remove (Beauty Online Supply, $30). One of the main complaints about gel manicures, in general, is the removal process, so the Kiss system is the best option if you’re worried about spending a ton of time removing the polish.

gel nail polish

At-home gel manicures for beginners

The Sally Hansen Salon Gel Polish Kit comes with absolutely everything you need for your first at-home gel manicure (Ulta, $65). The system includes the LED light — and everything else you’ll need for gel nails at home. It’s the best system for one-stop shoppers who don’t want to worry about forgetting one of the system steps at the store.

gel nail polish

Best overall gel nail polish system

The Sensationail Gel System is an overall winner for at-home gel manicures. The salon-quality results are even more impressive considering the reasonably-priced Sensationail Pro 3060 LED Lamp (, $30).  Sensationail even has trendy polish choices, like their Magnetic Gel Polish in Tantalize, which sets their color selection apart from some of the other gel systems (, $12).


gel nail polish
Gel nail polish for the non-committal

If you want to try a gel manicure at home without investing in a complete system, Miracle Gel™ from Sally Hansen might be your perfect match. The polish is a two-step system instead of the typical three-step system, and it doesn’t involve the curing LED light. With over 45 nail polish shades available, you don’t need to commit to an LED system to get the lasting power of a gel manicure (Walgreens, $10 each for color and top coat).

An at-home gel manicure cheat sheet
  • Unless you want to destroy your nails — and we know you don’t — always remove the polish by soaking and not peeling. Peeling will take off the top layer of your nail with the gel, which results in thin, weak, splitting nails over time. You can use 100% acetone to soak off the gel manicure if you run out of the polish remover that you bought for your system.
  • LED lights will work with any gel polish. Just because you start with one system doesn’t mean you can’t snag a color you love from a different one. An off-the-record hint is that even regular polish will simulate a gel manicure if used with the gel base and top coats. Your typical polish won’t last as long as a gel polish cured under the light, but it will last longer than normal if you have a favorite shade you just can’t find in gel form.
  • Following the instructions on the system you buy is crucial. Skipping one of the steps may seem like it will save you time, but the curing — which is what makes the polish so resistant to daily damage — depends on each step being performed during each manicure.
Would you try a gel manicure at home?
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basic invite birth announcement

Are you a new mom with a sweet little peanut you want to announce to the world? Or maybe you’re currently pregnant or throwing a baby shower for a friend and have been searching for the perfect invitations. Well, we have found them for you! Basic Invite is a gorgeous stationery shop that has an amazing collection of gorgeous and fully customizable cards for any occasion!

Baby Boy Birth Announcements

Fully customizable cards

How adorable are these birth announcements? They’re even better because you can fully customize them to your liking, by switching up the colors, font, spacing and words! The site makes this so easy to do and is extremely user-friendly, which is great for parents who are still in the newborn haze and have no patience for anything complicated! Birth announcements are something that everyone loves receiving, especially in this day and age when we’re sending less mail. A pretty card with your new sweet baby on it is sure to make anyone’s day brighter! With the great assortment of cards to choose from on Basic Invite, it’s easy to find the perfect one for you!

basic invite baby shower invitation


Girl Baby Shower Invitations Basic Invite

The perfect party accompaniment

Basic Invite also has a great selection of baby shower invitations! If you’re planning on throwing a shower, this is the place for you. They’ve got a wide range of invites to match any theme you have, and again the cards are fully customizable so you can pick the color schemes and just how you want them to look! This is the best part because you can let your creative side run wild. It’s also great for the OCD hostess in all of us, as it gives full reign over what the cards look like. I know when I’m planning a party I want every little detail to be perfect, and Basic Invite ensures just that!


Basic Invite GIVEAWAY

Want to try out Basic Invite for yourself? You’re in luck!  We’re giving away a $100 gift card. Please enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

Contest ends at 11:59pm PST on July 31st 2014
Open to US Residents only

Basic Invite Logo






a Rafflecopter giveaway

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I have been wielding a blow dryer since middle school, but I have never been able to achieve that bouncy blow out perfection that I receive at the salon. Lucky for me, my favorite salon — Hypnotic Salon and Spa in Olney, Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC — hosted a Blow Dry Boot Camp.

What’s a blow dry boot camp?

Participants were invited to learn from their stylists exactly how to re-create that professional blow out ‘do that looks like a million bucks and lasts three days. We were told to bring with us our hair appliances, brushes and products for evaluation, and if the items were deemed less than awesome for our strands we could donate them to a women’s shelter and receive a 25 percent discount on improved tools and products at the salon.

I thought this was such a fabulous idea that I immediately booked my boot camp slot with my stylist and Hypnotic Salon and Spa owner Chrissy Mayo. Chrissy gives me great cuts, highlights and unbelievably bouncy blow outs, and she was game for me creating an online tutorial so YOU can learn from her mastery, too.

before .jpg


There on the left is beautiful Chrissy with her full, sleek, glossy mane…and me on the right with my home-dried, no-producted, ponytail-marked, frazzled mess. Chrissy had just given me a cut a couple weeks prior, so the hair itself is looking pretty fly. But there is not much savviness to how I styled my strands.



Chrissy’s face says it all…I was using some sub-par products that were not doing my home blow dry routine any favors. The first items to go were the ones laden with alcohol, which would dry out my hair and strip the color. The next items for the donation box were products too heavy for my hair texture; thick gels and mega-hold hairsprays will only weigh down and clump fine, thin hair like mine.


Chrissy recommended for me the Redken Blonde Idol BBB Spray to use when my hair is wet after washing and conditioning. It is a lightweight treatment for my ends to give my hair a soft feel without weighing down my thin hair. It will also help boost my highlights and protect my hair before heat styling. Another good protection before blow drying product is the Redken Pillow Proof Blow Dry Express Primer with Heat Protection.


Next I needed a product to plump up my roots and give my entire head volume while blow drying. Chrissy is a fan of the Redken Guts 10 Volume Spray Foam. This stuff is so cool — it is a mousse that is not sticky and you can accurately spray right into your roots. It provides a brushable, soft volume.


The Dryer

The most important tool is an ionic hair dryer to promote shine and cause the least amount of damage to the hair. I already owned the Turbo Power Superturbo Lite 3300 Ionic & Ceramic Nano Hair Dryer and Chrissy was impressed (of course, I was not using it correctly.) Chrissy uses a salon-level BaBylssPRO dryer that is even lighter and more powerful (and pricier.)

Attach the Diffuser

Next up in importance is the act of actually attaching the diffuser nozzle that comes with your dryer. This will help your hair cuticles — layers on each hair strand which overlap one another like roof shingles — to smooth, rather than spiking up with flyaways and splitty-looking ends.


When your hair is wet from the shower, the only brush you should use on it is a Wet Brush, which will not break your hair when it is at its most delicate. You can also use a wide-toothed comb. While you blow dry, Chrissy recommends the Olivia Garden Ceramic + Ionic Flat Brush for a poker-straight look and the Olivia Garden Ceramic + Ionic Thermal Round Brushes for a full, bouncy, tucked-under-ends blow out.

For round brushes, the longer your hair, the larger the circumference of your round brush should be. I was using a pretty small round brush, which was tangling my hair when it wrapped around. The size I was using (pictured below in the Rough Dry photo) was a better match when my hair was chin-length. I upgraded to the largest size.

rough dry.jpg

Rough Dry

Comb or Wet-Brush your hair, starting at your ends and working your way up to eliminate tangles. Then squeeze out all the water — do not scrub it with a bath towel, which can exacerbate frizz. Part your hair and then add your product.

Now you can begin the casual, easy, anyone-can-do-it portion of your blow dry: the rough dry. This means you just dry it using your hands and your dryer in an inexact manner to zap the majority of the moisture. While you rough dry, do not worry too much about your technique, other than always pointing the dryer nozzle towards the floor to coax your cuticles to lay smoothly against the hair strands for the healthiest hair look possible.

(Chrissy used my own dryer during the tutorial so I could really get a sense of how to recreate her art at home.)



Once your hair is 75 percent dry (or more wet if you have a wavier texture), section it with clips. I had some professional-style crocodile hair clips that came with my flat iron, but you can use claw clips, butterfly clips — whatever you have as long as it will hold your hair in sections without leaving a deep mark.

I have pretty thin hair so I can get away with clipping the top layers of my hair on both sides to the top of my head, and then drying the bottom layer on each side (four sections, two clips.) If you have thicker hair, clip up and section off more. You will be drying the bottom layers first, then working your way up, spending the most and final time on the sections at the front of your head and near your face.


The Hold

I always though stylists possessed magical powers (and of course, two arms not attached to the hair owner’s body) that allowed them achieve blow dry perfection. But Chrissy’s technique makes the entire process so much easier! Here is her secret: hold the dryer by the nozzle, not the handle! It gives you more control and is less fatiguing. It is kind of like holding a pencil — why hold up at the top when you can grip it better by the point?

Dryer/Brush Combo

Once you have nice control of your dryer in your non-dominant hand, it makes introducing your brush of choice into your dominant hand a zillion times easier. Brush your hair from beneath near the root and then use the nozzle of the dryer to follow your hair down to the ends. If you are using a flat brush, keep it moving to smooth. If you are rolling under with a round brush, you can hold the hair in a tucked-under position to get more of a bend at the end, but keep the dryer nozzle moving so as not to burn your hair.

Start with the bottom-most sections and then work your way up, leaving the top-most layer and your bangs or face-framing hair for last.


Top Section = Extra Attention

By now your final sections of hair will be almost dry, and that is totally fine. Your dryer and brush will be coaxing them into glossy, bouncy submission. Get a close grip with your brush at the root and pull up above your head for maximum volume. Insert slightly less hair into the brush than you did on the bottom sections, and spend a little more time with each pass of the brush. Think of it as icing your almost-completed cake.

If you would like more volume at the crown of your head (think of the location where you would insert a Bump-It, back in the old Snooki days), use a fine-toothed rat tail comb to accurately section off a piece at your crown near your part. Tease several inches above your root and then smooth again with your brush. Chrissy says that teasing right at the root will do nothing — the key is to move up several inches to really pump up the volume.


When you are done, spray with a lightweight hairspray that you can brush through and allows for movement, but will protect your hair from weather and extend the life of your hard work. Chrissy recommends the L’Anza Healing Style line of finishing mists — you can choose the level of hold that works best for your hair texture and needs.


If you would like to give your blow out a boost the next day, even after sleep, just add a little more Redken Guts 10 to reactivate volume. Then spray a dry shampoo like TIGI Bed Head Rockaholic Dirty Secret Dry Shampoo or Redken Pillow Proof Blow Dry Two Day Extender to absorb oil at the roots.



Here I am on the left, grinning like a fool because I am having a great hair day that I know will extend into tomorrow. Actually, that hair lasted through two sleeps, one workout, a thunderstorm and volunteering at a swim meet in 90 percent humidity. I hope this tutorial helps you too to achieve great results.

Thank you Chrissy Mayo of Hypnotic Salon and Spa for a bodacious blow dry boot camp, and happy home blow drying friends!

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Everyone wins with hostess gifts: your host feels appreciated and adored, and you have something to hold in your hands when you arrive at her abode. This round up of beautiful and useful tokens of your appreciation take your gifting game up a notch from the usual bottle or bouquet. All 10 hostess gift ideas are less than $50 (some are $20 and under!) but they feel luxe and will show your host your love.


1. Mysticeti Whale Salt and Pepper Shakers $26 anthropologie - Show your appreciation for a home chef with a whimsical S&P set.

2. Format Tray $39.95 CB2 – You will overload your hostess with chic with this minimalist clear acrylic tray she can use anywhere and everywhere in her pad. 

3. Tocca Candele da Viaggio Gift Set $42 Tocca – If there is any gift more elegant than this boxed set of four votives in Tocca’s most celebrated scents, we have not found it yet.

4. Mykonos Stripe Ice Bucket $45.99 Jonathan Adler - Your host will be digging the Mad Men vibe from this acrylic ice bucket, perfect for holding cocktail cubes or chilling a bottle.

5. Mini Plateau Basket $20 Indego Africa – This 6″ diameter basket will bring a bit of Rwanda to your host’s home. All proceed benefit education programs for African women artisans, and the packaging will include beautiful literature explaining the social good aspects of your gift.

6. Potted Double Stem White Orchid $49.95 ProFlowers – If you already stayed your welcome, it is not too late to be a gifting guest. Send this beautiful phalaenopsis potted orchid with a heartfelt note of thanks. 

7. State Cutting/Cheese Boards $48 AHeirloom on etsy – Give the gift of state pride with a handmade wood cutting/cheese board. AHeirloom will custom make and place the heart on the location of your host’s home town.

8. Personalized Boat and Tote Bag $24.95-39.95 L.L. Bean - There is nothing more classic for summer than a canvas tote bag. Make an extra effort by having it personalized for your host with her name, monogram or a cheeky moniker.

9. Pretty Pouches $16-32 Kate Spade Saturday – Versatile zippered pouches in adorbs patterns can be used by your hostess for an array of organization functions and double as cute clutches. At this price, you can pick up a couple (or get one for yourself.)

10. Butter London Tops and Tails Nail Polish Kit $15 Sephora – Your beauty guru girlfriend will totally appreciate this practical and luxe five piece polish set.

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Date nights ideas that make your marriage a priority

Regular date nights are one way to prioritize your marriage. Find a dependable babysitter, and take advantage of balmy summer nights to spend one-on-one time with your spouse. Date night ideas range from flirty to nostalgic, so pick your favorites and then book your babysitter for every Saturday this summer.

summer date night ideas
Music in the park

Peruse city park websites for summer concert series and spend an evening listening to live music. Even if you’re listening to an unknown band, there’s something about a blanket, a baguette with cheese and a bottle of wine to make a summer night feel a little sultry. Fill this adorable Rattan Picnic Basket for Two with your favorite goodies, and you might even discover a new favorite band (Pottery Barn, $99). summer date night ideas

Ballgames and beer

Even if your husband tends to watch baseball with his buddies, a night at the ballpark can be a fun way to spend a summer date night. If dinner at your favorite sushi place is becoming a little stale, oversized beers and cheering on your favorite team can be the perfect way to bring a little fun into your dates. Showing your team spirit doesn’t have to mean borrowing a too-large jersey. Try one of the polishes in OPI’s Fashion Plate Collection (Amazon, $12). summer date night ideas

Dinner and drinks on the patio

Dinner and drinks might be a tried-and-true date night idea, but it’s a classic for a reason. Lingering over dinner and cocktails isn’t always possible with the kids in tow, so date nights mean you can talk about anything you want, for as long as you want, without worrying about whether your conversation is kid-appropriate. To take advantage of the summer weather, ask for a table on the patio — even better if your favorite restaurant has views of the sunset or waves. One of the best parts about this simple date is the potential to wear your favorite summer dresses — we love the bright pink Amanda Uprichard Summer Dress (Piperlime, $211).

summer date night ideas
Take out, then drive in

For a major dose of nostalgia, hit a drive-in movie theater this summer. Find the closest drive-in to your home, and don’t worry too much about what’s showing — this date is all about the throw-back nature of the experience. If movie food makes you cringe, stop at your favorite take-out place on the way. We won’t tell if you smuggle in a Cocktail RX Lemon Drop Cocktail Kit (Amazon, $7). summer date night ideas

After-hours at the zoo

Places you might normally take the kids during the day, like zoos and museums, often have nighttime events that are decidedly date-friendly. Check out the cultural centers in your area — the Detroit Zoo offers a Sunset at the Zoo event that raises money for new exhibits while providing strolling dinner, champagne toasts and dancing at twilight.

The bottom line

Dating your spouse will heat up your summer evenings! No matter if you try something new or stick with your go-to dinner dates, take the time to spend some one-on-one time with your husband this summer.

What’s your favorite summer date night idea?
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We’re wild about pineapple

If you haven’t already noticed, pineapple is the hottest fruit of the summer. And, we’re not talking about smoothie ingredients. Pineapples are popping up in more than just your kitchen, from fashion to bath products to tech accessories and this tropical fruit that is known as a symbol of welcome is certain welcome in our summer!

Grab a few of these pineapple products for your closet or home to brighten up your summer… or to keep it going long after the summer sunsets have faded into fall.

9 Favorite pineapple products for summer


Pineapple Favorites

1. Leith Prism Pineapple Oversized Infinity Scarf, Nordstrom, $32
2. Skinnydip London Pineapple iPhone 5 Case, Nasty Gal, $20
3. Organic Pineapple Nourishing Body Cream, 100 Percent Pure, $15
4. Revlon Parfumerie Scented Enamel in Pink Pineapple, Ulta, $7
5. Billabong Beach Lunchez Lunch Bag, Zappos, $20
6. Billabong She Sells Pullover, Zappos, $50
7. Alex and Ani Pineapple Charm Bangle, Zappos, $28
8. Pineapple Ice Trays, Anthropologie, $14 set of two
9. Archipelago Botanical Fragrance Diffuser in Pineapple Ginger, Nordstrom, $35

More pineapple products to love

We can’t stop with just nine favorites! Check out these other pineapple products that we have on our wishlists for summer.

Taking pineapple back to the kitchen, the Endless Summer Craft Iced Tea Set (Uncommon Goods, $35) includes a box of pineapple yerba mate tea bags to quench your thirst.

If you’re really head-over-heels for pineapple this summer, grab the Townsen Pineapple Silk Dress (Zappos, $242). It’s definitely a splurge, but you can easily dress this fun number up or down for fun until the fall leaves begin to fall.

Let’s be honest. You want everything in your entire life to smell like pineapple. We don’t blame you. Try some products from the Pineapple Demeter Fragrance Line (Demeter Fragrance, $6-40) to get an allover pineapple scent this summer.

Super fresh, fun and functional for summer, the Natural Hawaiian 3-in-1 Clean Towelettes in Deep Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme (Alba Botanica, $3-6) are perfect to throw in your beach bag. The Natural Hawaiian Lip Gloss in Refreshing Pineapple Quench (Alba Botanica, $5) is another summer must-have.

Are you in love with all things pineapple? What are your must-haves?




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Show some love for ice cream sandwiches

Ice Cream Sandwiches

The ice cream sandwich is so under appreciated, isn’t it? With ice cream cones, sundaes and fro-yo with crazy toppings getting all of the attention, especially when it comes to ice cream favorites for kids. It’s not surprising that oftentimes the ice cream sandwich can be forgotten. Until now. We’ve scooped the best recipes and instructions for a full list that will get your mouth watering and put this dessert at the top of everyone’s must-have treats this summer.

More than just vanilla

While some of the recipes we’ve highlighted below go the classic route, others take the ingredients to the extreme, even adding bacon to the outside of the ice cream, like our friends at i am a food blog, or using beer ice cream, like Karen does on her sandwiches on Honestly Yum. And, that’s not to mention the creative ideas that these ice cream sandwich gurus use to contain their ice cream, like the thick, lucious brownies that SugarHero! uses in her recipe, or the donuts, yes, donuts, that Paper and Stitch uses in hers.

Whether you like your sandwiches pure and simple or you’re ready to push the boundaries with something more adventurous and surprising, with this bounty of tasty recipes, we certainly have you covered! Make room in that freezer… you’re going to need it!

Can we get a yum? Or fourteen?

14 Ice cream sandwich recipes to try
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Ice cream sandwiches- The Berry
Ice cream sandwiches- Sugar Hero
Ice cream sandwiches- Sugar and Cloth
Ice cream sandwiches- Smitten Kitchen
Ice cream sandwiches- Paper N Stitch
Ice cream sandwiches- Kitchen Confidante
Ice cream sandwiches- Indigo Scones
Ice cream sandwiches- I Am a Food Blog
Ice cream sandwiches- Honestly Yum
Ice cream sandwiches- Homemade Charlotte
Ice cream sandwiches- Country Cleaver
Ice cream sandwiches- BuzzFeed
Ice cream sandwiches- allParenting- Strawberry
Ice cream sandwiches- allParenting- Stack
 Is your family a fan of this classic treat?
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Looking for something festive but still stylish to wear on the fourth of July? Well, we’re here to help with five fashionable outfits for the 4th of July!

The fourth of the July is an exciting summer holiday and the biggest celebrations of the Summer, and it’s the perfect opportunity to show your American spirit. The problem is, you want to wear something patriotic but you don’t want to look like a walking American flag, so how can you create a festive outfit without looking like a walking American flag!?

You do not have to go over board and chances are you already have something red, white or blue in your closet. Simply add a little festive flair with stripes, a cool vintage flag t-shirt or some fun accessories that will add just a hint of patriotic flair. These best thing about these outfits is that they can be worn long after the holiday weekend and all summer long.  Depending on your style, you can go nautical, vintage, preppy, casual or chic.

Which outfit is your 4th of July Style?


Casual 4th of July




Blue 4th of July




Vintage 4th of July




4th of July




4th of July


So, which stylish 4th of July outfit would you wear?
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4th of July is a fun day for kids. From spending the day with friends and family to watching the fireworks at night, there is so much to do. This year, take their celebration to the next level by giving them these red, white and blue pina coladas. These special 4th of July drinks for kids are made with real fruit and easy to make for a group of little ones.

4th of july drink for kids

When I first had the idea of doing a 4th of July drink for kids, I started with looking at some recipes online. Almost every recipe I found had some combination of kool-aid, Gatorade and soda. While those drinks might have the red, white and blue colors, they are not something I would ever let me kids drink. So, after talking with my kids and doing some experimenting, we came up with this variation of a virgin pina colada.

4th of july drink for kids 1

For the red, I pureed fresh raspberries with a touch of sweetner. The blue was the same process except I used blueberries instead. The white in the drink comes from a blend of banana, pineapple chunks, pineapple juice and coconut cream. Layer it all in the glass and serve with a straw so the kids can stir and sip away.

Red, white and blue pina colada {a 4th of July drink for kids}

Serves 2


For the raspberry puree:

For the blueberry puree:

  • 1/2 cup organic blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon honey syrup (or simple syrup), adjusted to taste

For the pina colada:

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 ounce pineapple juice
  • 1 tablespoon coconut cream


For the raspberry puree:

  1. Add raspberries and simple syrup to a blender and blend until the raspberries are broken down. Taste and add more syrup if needed.

For the blueberry puree:

  1. Add blueberries and simple syrup to a blender and blend until the raspberries are broken down. Taste and add more syrup if needed.

For the pina colada:

  1. Add frozen banana, pineapple chunks, pineapple juice and coconut cream to a blender. Blend until smooth. 

For making the drink:

  1. Pour or spoon in a thin layer of raspberry puree into two small glasses. Spoon in a layer of the pina colada smoothie, being careful to not mix the two. Add a thin layer of the blueberry puree to the glass, again being careful not to mix.
  2. Repeat as necessary until glasses are full.
  3. Serve with straws and let the kids enjoy!

This recipe for a 4th of July drink for kids serves two but it’s very easy to increase by doubling or tripling the ingredients as needed. These served along side fun finger foods and mini desserts are the perfect way to let the kids celebrate Independence Day.

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How to start a book club

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf hit booksellers June 24th, and it’s a wonderful choice for a July book club discussion. If you aren’t part of a book club, summer is the perfect time to start one. With more relaxed schedules and road or plane travel on your calendar, you have more a chance to pick up a new book — and you’re going to want to talk about those books with your friends. starting a book club   Book clubs seem like such a simple concept: find a few friends who love books, choose a book and gather to discuss it. But anyone who’s tried to form a book club knows it doesn’t always equate to a fun night out with friends. We have five book club tips to make your meeting your favorite girls’ night of the month.

Be flexible about guests

Starting a book club might happen with a few of your closest girlfriends, or you might spontaneously try to get your neighbors together for conversations that don’t focus on the landscaping regulations for your HSA. Even if it seems awkward to have a friend of a neighbor sipping on your favorite sangria, remember that unexpected guests can add new angles to a discussion. Keep your membership flexible, and you might find yourself with new friends after a couple of meetings.

Keep your meeting dates consistent

Finding a perfect time for a book club to meet is almost impossible. Conspire with your must-have guests to find a time that works every month — pick a night without lessons, games or other commitments already penciled in — and stick with it. Set a recurring appointment in your favorite app or start noting it, in pen, in your calendar. There will likely be a reader or two who has to miss your monthly meetings, but with a solid third-Thursday-of-the-month meeting, most people will keep their calendars clear. Little Mercies

Choose a book with strong discussion possibilities

Let’s be honest. There will be months when only one or two women have managed to finish the book Even with the best intentions — and book club selections — not every book will resonate with every reader, and sometimes people are simply too busy to finish a book they’re enjoying. Keep your discussions inclusive by selecting books that have plot points or dilemmas that even those who haven’t read the book can discuss. Discussion-friendly plot threads include hot-button issues or current events, like the compelling Little Mercies. Ellen Moore knows all about child protective services. As a social worker, she’s seen humans inflict horror on each other, and she works with the people who do their best to protect the children they encounter. One distracted mistake puts Ellen on the other side of the system, and as her story unfolds, readers see both the cracks in the protective services system and the heart of the people who work tirelessly for the sake of other people’s children. Moms will have a visceral reaction to Little Mercies, and the discussion will be thought-provoking — though spoilers are likely to come out for anyone who hasn’t finished the book!

Use book club resources

Publishers generally realize when their books will be suitable for book clubs. A quick search will lead you to resources for your book club, such as the Little Mercies Book Club Kit. Book club leaders shouldn’t feel like they need to start from scratch when beginning discussions or considering talking points. Trust the publisher’s familiarity with the book and save yourself a little time to focus on the other aspects of hosting the meeting.

lillet rouge punch recipe
Keep food and drinks simple

If your book choice has a strong tie to a certain type of cuisine or location, it can be fun to decorate or plan your menu around a theme. If you’re dealing with contemporary women’s fiction, like Little Mercies, you can choose your go-to favorites. We love the idea of serving a big pitcher of Sparkling Lillet Rouge Punch with a summer salad and sweet treat.

Read more about Little Mercies
What is your book club reading this summer?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Harlequin. All sassy opinions are my own.

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