This post was written in collaboration with Effortless Composition. Some of the products mentioned and reviewed were received in exchange for my participation in this collaboration. However, all opinions expressed are my own.
The overall theme of Spring 2018 for me has been BUSY. Between the completion of the One Room Challenge™ and my daughter's birthday party extravaganza, May has felt like the craziest year of my life. I've been chatting it out with friends and everyone seems to be in the same place. Everyone is over-worked, over-tired, over-extended, and over it. Now that Summer is here, I'm ready for a break. I could easily throw on my gym shorts and sail through this season on my sofa, binge-watching The Santa Clarita Diet and eating Cheez-Its. But I still want to have a fun Summer. So here's my dedication to you - This Summer will be fun and simple. Let's host parties with minimal budgets. Let's give our out-of-town visitors an experience that only feels like it took forever to plan. Let's organize our workspaces to run more efficiently and save time. Let's do it all while maintaining a healthy lifestyle that nourishes our bodies and our minds. Is it possible? Let's see. Every Friday for the month of June, I'll be partnering with Brittiny at Effortless Composition to bring you my favorite Effortless Summer tips. We'll round it all out with a giveaway to help you jumpstart your own Effortless Summer for July. So stay tuned to the blog for updates on how you can qualify to win an amazing gift, while giving back to others.
WEEK ONE: How To Host An Effortless Summer Gathering
Summer is the best season for entertaining because nature does most of the work for you. The produce selection is fresh and cheerful, requiring minimal preparation for food and the decorations are already in place - lush trees and flowers create a gorgeous backdrop. Plus, eeryone looks amazing in an airy dress, but the secret is that they're also the most comfortable clothing items we own. So throw on some large earrings, pin your hair back, and you're ready to greet your guests in style and leisure.
MOST EFFORTLESS COCKTAIL YOU'LL EVER MAKE. SERIOUSLY. NO JOKE.
1 Bottle White Wine (I prefer somewhat sweeter whites, like a Sauvignon Blanc, but Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay are also perfect)
1 cup White Rum
1/4 can Frozen Pineapple Juice concentrate (save the rest for DIY popsicles!)
1 cup Frozen Mangos
1 cup Frozen Mixed Berries
1 Apple, sliced
1 Orange, sliced for garnish
Fresh Blueberries, for garnish
Chill the rum and wine overnight. Throw all of these ingredients into a pitcher, and voila! You've just made the Summeriest cocktail your guests will rave about for years to come. Want to be extra fancy? Throw them into a blender with ice and you've just made a SUMMER SLUSH!!! Effortlessly.
WHAT TO FEED YOUR HUNGRY GUESTS
Step One to hosting an effortless Summer gathering is to host at exactly the right time. Don't pick an hour around a mealtime. No 12:00 or 6:00 pm parties. If you host at a mealtime, guests expect a full meal. Full meals take a ton of work. Instead, set your party time to begin just after people have just eaten a main meal. A 7:00 or 3:00pm start time is my favorite. You'll still need to serve food, but you can stick to finger foods and light hors d'oeuvres and your guests will feel plenty full. Here are my three favorite Summer Entertaining Recipes:
4 Avocados, diced
1 red onion, diced
Ciltantro, chopped lazily
2 Roma Tomatos, diced
1 tbsp Lime Juice
Salt to taste
This one is really a no-brainer. Guacamole is everyone's favorite. Plus, it pairs perfectly with Sangria. Making it is simple. Put all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix loosely. There's no reason to puree these ingredients. Mushy guacamole is gross. You're going for big, fresh chunks of avocado and tomato and nice, full leaves of cilantro so everyone can tell this was made fresh. Make it just as guests are arriving to keep it from turning brown. Serve with Blue Corn Tortilla Chips for an especially authentic taste.
SIMPLE CAPRESE SALAD
1 carton Cherry Tomatoes
2 Pre-sliced Mozarella Cheese Rolls
1 Bunch Basil, chopped lazily
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Again, you're really just going to throw this into a bowl and let people serve themselves. Once it's all mixed, the flavors will mingle and this will end up being your favorite Summer Salad recipe. I promise.
SIMPLE FRUIT SALAD
1 Watermelon, chunked
1 lb Strawberries, sliced
1 qt Blueberries
1 qt raspberries
1 qt blackberries
Mix all of the fruit together, then drizzle with the honey and this simple dessert will have people raving! If you'd like to include some whipped cream on the side, put out a can and let people top it themselves. I also like to throw in some chopped mint if I'm feeling especially generous.
The best part? Each of these recipes is gluten-free and vegetarian! So effortless and yet so impressive!
So now that we've got the menu pinned down, let's talk about decorations. A party isn't effortless if you spend three hours hanging banners and prepping table cloths. So let's just avoid all of that. I've collaborated with Effortless Composition to find pieces from their new BOHO CONTEMPORARY COLLECTION that pull double-duty as gorgeous home decor and amazing party essentials. This new line premiers today and I'm seriously so impressed. Here are my favorite pieces:
Brittany, from Effortless Composition, sent me this tray and I can't even explain how overjoyed I was when I opened the box. It's stunning. Each piece is hand-carved and it shows. It's a true work of artisan craftmanship. I love how it looks on my coffee table, even completely empty. My daughter enjoys filling it with her rock collection and I'm not even slightly concerned she'll hurt it. It is a substantial, sturdy piece I know I'll have for decades to come. I also love that it acts as serveware for parties. I can place wine tumblers, napkins, and even chips in this tray. Pieces that serve double-duty are a must-have for those looking to simplify their lives. It cuts down on the amount of necessary storage. Because why would we dedicate an entire corner of our kitchen storage to pieces that are only used a handful of times a year?
On the note of items that rock double-duty, these ceramic plates are perfection. The texture actually matches my dinner plates and I love the idea of stacking these on a bedside table as a catch-all for phones and accessories. When not coralling your junk, they're also lovely serverware.
Nothing says Summer, bitch! like a bright, bohemian throw pillow. This one is boho-meets-pop-art and I'm over-the-moon about it. For those of us who aren't rocking super summery looking homes, this is the perfect punch of color to instantly set the mood.
We're not all blessed with huge, lush backyards. So I love this little trio as an inexpensive way to add some foliage without the necessary sunglight or space. Imagine these on a patio table. Instant Summer. Plus, they'll last you well into Winter. Anyone else imagining little red bows for Christmas? Hello!
A little instant extra seating? Yes, please. These are so versatile. Buy two sets (they come in sets of two) and stack them in a corner to create a side table. Then, when you have guests, throw them around the room or out on the lawn for cushy havens. I actually just bought two. Just now, as I was writing this, I bought two. I had to have them. I imagine you'll agree when you see the price. Seriously.
My favorite part about Effortless Composition, and the reason I decided to pursue this collaboration, is the woman at the heart of the business. The business founder, Brittiny, is just the best. Like me, she works with numbers all day long but her real passion is home decorating. She launched this business with a major goal - to bring affordable pieces to under-served, minority communities while giving back to those exact populations. AND HOLY CRAP YOU GUYS. If you are even slightly passionate about supporting local artisans, please grab a box of tissues and go read her story about Beverly, her pillow artisan. I'm actually tearing up thinking about it again.
This woman has the drive and heart to create a successful platform for which women of color can be proud. Why do I, the whitest lady on the block, care? Well, you see.. I found this company while doing research for a piece I'm writing about cultural appropriation in home decor. That's right. We all have more than one passion. My second passion, like Brittiny, is supporting the under-supported artisans right here in the United States. Take a stroll around your local arts and crafts markets, scroll over etsy, or casually look into the artists mentioned in LIVING every month, and you'll notice something strikingly familiar about the majority of the makers you see there. They're mostly white ladies. Don't get me wrong! I love white ladies too! But I know there's talent in the minority populations in the United States as well. Lack of funds and general lack of support for artists can make dreams feel pretty unachievable. So my goal is to support the women of color who are currently creating, in any way I can, to help them gain notoriety. Because when you see someone who looks like you accomplishing what you dream to accomplish, it's a lot easier to imagine yourself there.
But don't let me speak for Brittiny, or an entire community. I'm only here to alert you. I can't thoroughly explain the situation. You've got to read Brittiny's thoughts on the matter here. Visit her store here. Buy some stuff. Support Beverly. Support women. Support one another. Together, we can uplift everybody. I know we can.
Check back next Friday to see my tips for Summer Guest Hosting without all the fuss. In the meanttime,
HAVE AN EFFORTLESS SUMMER!