We believe that eating a meal outside on a cool summer evening makes the food taste even better. So fire up the grill, gather friends and family, and get ready to enjoy a meal under the stars. While entertaining outside can come with its challenges—don’t get bogged down in them! We’ve got products that are sure to lend a helping hand.

Flower Market Large Rattan & Enamel Tray – White
Carry condiments, spices, or supplies in fewer trips thanks to this gorgeous tray. It will keep you right where you need to be—with your guests—instead of running in and out of the house. Clean up the same way. The sturdy rattan handles allow you to have a firm grip on it all too.

Courtly Check Enamel Everything Bowl
Keep drinks cold by using this massive bowl as an ice bucket, to corral mini bags of chips, or to store all of the hot dog and hamburger buns. We’re not kidding when we say this bowl can be used for everything and anything.

Flower Market Cake Carrier – White
Unveil dessert in a grand fashion. Not only can you safely transport cakes and cupcakes outside but leaving the top closed will keep flies and tiny fingers out of the frosting. The clever design features an easy-to-use handle for carrying too.

Flower Market Mesh Dome – Large
Freshly prepared food doesn’t need flies! Keep any and all bugs from landing on your feast. The metallic mesh lets guests see the dishes while still keeping them protected.

 Cutting Garden Paper Napkins – Guest
There are times when you need to ditch the cloth napkins. Any outdoor occasion, a barbecue, or picnics are the perfect opportunity. It saves you time to recycle them instead of trying to wash out stubborn stains. Plus they’re still just as pretty as their more formal counterparts.

Building up a spice cabinet from nothing can be challenging—not to mention expensive. How do you decide what are the spicy essentials that will give you the most flavor for your money? We’re taking the guesswork out and going straight to a reliable source—the always lovely and talented Jessica Merchant of How Sweet It Is. Here are the spices she uses in her kitchen to whip up all the delicious looking recipes you see each day on her blog:

Disclaimer: While it might be tempting to buy a spice blend to get more for your money Jess doesn’t advise it. “Spice blends are challenging because you can never be a hundred percent sure of what you’re getting in each shake. Maybe that Italian variety is sprinkling on more oregano than you need and not enough garlic. So stick to separate spices when possible,” explains Jess.

Salt and pepper: Yup! Totally obvious but completely necessary and worth mentioning. “I use kosher salt for everything except for baking. When I bake I use fine table salt. I also like to have a smoked salt on hand.  It adds great flavor. I don’t ever use garlic salt or onion salt. Again it’s hard to figure out what percentage is salt vs. garlic or onion!”

Garlic powder: “I put garlic powder in everything, I’m not kidding I use it constantly. Most recipes call for garlic and it works with a variety of food types. I use the dehydrated ground garlic, which has wonderful flavor.”

Smoked paprika: “Probably the second most used spice in my cabinet. I love the smoky, complex flavor it adds to anything I sprinkle it on. I use it everything. I use it to roasted veggies, potatoes, different sauces, and even mac n’ cheese. I have no limits on this spice!”

Cinnamon: Comforting and familiar cinnamon works in both sweet and savory foods. “It goes on anything sweet in my house: a variety of breakfast, oatmeal, cookies, or any baking project. I use it if I’m making Moroccan food too.”

Fresh nutmeg: “The fresh version is so much better! It looks like a little acorn and it comes with maybe five or six in a jar. You have to microplane the nutmeg. Just like cinnamon I put it into anything sweet, but I also use it to round out any kind of cream sauce, alfredo, or béchamel sauce.”

Chili powder- “I like chili powder better than cumin. Cumin can be very overpowering so I use chili powder instead. I use it just as much. It’s perfect in rubs, for grilling and marinades. I also sprinkle it on roasted potatoes and all of our sweet potato fries.”

Crushed red pepper: “Perfect to add a little heat to any dish. It works with a lot of different cuisines too. So you’ll get plenty of use out this one.”

Whether it’s your first time hosting a shower or your fifteenth it never hurts to get a few new tips from a pro. We spoke with event and wedding planner Elizabeth Lutz of Glass Event Planning to get some of her favorite hosting tips for small gatherings. So whether you’re hosting a shower at an event space or at home, the shower will be full of the thoughtful details that the bride will remember and appreciate for years to come. Here are some of Elizabeth’s best tips:

Include the bride in the conversation.  Sure it’s tempting to throw a surprise shower. But it’s much better to include the bride in the rough planning. She can help guide the guest list and let you know where people will be coming from. I’ve had some brides lump their shower and their bachelorette parties together to accommodate out of town guests—saving them time and money.

Set expectations with your guests. If there is some sort of activity that costs extra like a pedicure or horseback riding let guests know ahead of time. Then they can come with cash. Just be clear about what you will be covering. Discussing it all when the bride gets there can get really awkward.

 Start with a quick cocktail hour.  It allows guests to mingle and get settled. If you’re hosting at your house and don’t have enough seating don’t be afraid to have the meal buffet style. Just serve the food in smaller bite sized portions so it’s easy to stand and snack.  Don’t skimp on presentation though. Beautiful cake stands or tiered dessert trays work for more than just sweets.

Don’t overcomplicate the menu or the decor. If you’re hosting at home do a split between homemade dishes and store bought/ catered. Keep some of the bride’s favorite dishes in mind or any traditional family dishes. Don’t take the whole thing on yourself. Always think about possible food allergies and always have non-alcoholic drinks on hand too. For décor, have one showstopper. I love to do ice cubes with herbs or edible flowers inside. They’d look lovely in a large glass drink dispenser.

 Honor family memories or traditions. Take the bride for a walk down memory lane and opt for a few activities that spur a memory. Collect the bows and ribbons from the gifts to make a bouquet for the rehearsal or play a game the bride’s mother played at her shower. Marriage is all about expanding your family so it’s always nice to honor that.

Create a fun keepsake. Have each guest bring his or her favorite recipe. It’s nice to provide a theme like easy weeknight dinners or desserts. Collect them all and present them to the bride at the end of the shower in a beautiful recipe box.

You may have seen our newest catalog filled with tons of summer goodness—including clever tips and ideas from some of our favorite bloggers. We spoke with Ashley Hale of House of Five for some of her best family-friendly entertaining tips from her MacKenzie-Childs-inspired outdoor space:
How do you make your outdoor decor as kid-friendly as possible?
I’m a firm believer in having a kids’ table! When we get our entire family together, we love to make a space for the grown-ups that is elegant. But for the kids, we want them to feel comfortable too. So we might set out a small table with some pillows on the ground or some games to keep them busy and possibly distract them from any of the glass, decor, or anything else that doesn’t mix well with kids. We sometimes have little crafts like building paper airplanes, coloring, or tic-tac-toe. When we provide them with a place of their own, they feel included and comfortable all at the same time.
What extra touches do you add to make your outdoor space feel cozy?
I always want company to feel comfortable, so I start with plenty of seating and I try to keep all the necessary items like drink refills and snacks within arm’s reach. I want my guests to feel like they can kick their feet up and relax with us and they don’t need to get up. So creating a space where all their needs are met is my first priority.
What snacks do you prepare that are kid-friendly?
In the summertime, we love creating sweet treats around fruit, and leave the rich and dense desserts for the colder months. We love making pavlova in the summer—it’s light and airy and perfect for a summer gathering. The kids gobble it up! We also love filling waffle cones with assorted berries and topping it with whipped cream and sprinkles (a kid favorite around here). The kids have an easy cup to hold their berries in and the waffle cone is a tasty treat at the end of the snack.
What activities/crafts do you have on hand for kids to do when you’re entertaining?
We love to keep the kids busy with outdoor activities during summer gatherings. We set up a little net for badminton, and a blow-up pool with a slide is always a big hit too. One of our kids favorite summer activities is playing with bubbles. I find that setting up a bubble machine will keep the kids busy forever so I’m free to entertain. Plus I enjoy watching them have so much fun! It’s something that doesn’t create a big mess outside so that’s a win-win.
Any summer recipes that work well for entertaining?
My favorite summer salad is cubed watermelon with chopped fresh mint. To finish, season with salt and pepper. An easy summer breakfast favorite is a large bowl of strawberries topped with brown sugar, blueberries, chopped macadamia nuts, coconut shavings, and anything else you’d like. Then it gets topped with a splash of heavy cream.

When was the last time you had a picnic? Or took the time to gaze up at the stars with your favorite person? Summer is the perfect time to grab a blanket and your picnic basket and head outdoors on a cool, clear evening for date night. Here are some of our favorite tips for taking your meal to go.

No phones allowed. Go to any restaurant these days and you’ll see a couple on a date sitting across from one another on their cell phones. No, no! Not allowed tonight because the night sky and stimulating conversation should be more than enough entertainment.

Pick the perfect basket. Not to brag, but our version contains all the essentials you’ll need—from plates, utensils, and glasses to even the often-forgotten bottle opener. It’s nice for everything to have a place and for these items to be able to stay inside your basket, making it easier to grab and go.

Set the mood! Bring a vase full of fresh flowers or pick them yourselves. Curl up by the cozy light of a lantern and play some of your favorite music. Mini portable speakers are so inexpensive. It all helps to add a little ambiance.

Ask questions. When you see someone all the time, it can get really easy to slip into autopilot when it comes to date-night conversation. Brainstorm some fun questions you can ask one another. You’ll be surprised by some of the answers. How cool is that?

Waterproof the blanket. Don’t let damp grass deter you. Place an affordable plastic tablecloth underneath your favorite gingham blanket. It will keep any moisture from the ground or grass from seeping through. Bring some pillows too, for maximum comfort.

Bring bite-sized food. Nothing that really needs to be cut with a fork and knife. It’s too hard to do on the ground. Sandwiches, pasta salad, fruit—anything tiny enough that you can eat with a fork will be the most enjoyable. Who can resist a cheese plate?

Shop the Post: Berries & Blossoms Picnic Hamper for Two/ Kitchen Garden Dish Towels – Set of 3/ Courtly Check Enamel Storage – Deep

You might have seen our newest catalog filled with tons of summer goodness—specifically clever tips and ideas from our favorite MacKenzie-Childs-loving bloggers. It was fun to see how they put their favorite products to good use and we picked up some outdoor entertaining tips in the process. Lynsey from TomboyKC loves throwing impromptu dinners al fresco come summer. Here are five takeaway entertaining tips from her MacKenzie-Childs inspired margarita night:

1. Making your own simple syrup is well…simple! Keep a squeeze bottle of simple syrup in your fridge to add into your own fresh-squeezed summer cocktails all season long. Simply mix one parts sugar to one parts water over medium-low heat and ta-da! Make a larger batch so you can save it for future parties too.

2. Outdoor entertaining is made easier with a tray. Whether you’re bringing drinks or food outside or you’re just using it to corral ingredients—it makes the load a little easier to carry. Plus if you have guests customizing their own drinks everything is in one place.

3. Head outdoors even if it’s not yours. Don’t have a ton of space to spare? Head to a local public park or outdoor area and invite friends to meet you there. You can all enjoy the beautiful space without worrying about who’s hosting or if your house is as clean as you’d like it to be.

4. Bring games that can travel. Dominoes anyone? Playing games with guests can be an amazing icebreaker getting even the shyest person engaged. It’s always fun to see who’s secretly competitive or who is a trivia whiz.

5.  Keep snacks simple. You don’t have to serve a four-course meal every time you entertain. Fresh fruit, a cheese platter, and a dessert can be a meal in itself on occasion.

Shop the Post: Butterfly Garden Tumbler / Courtly Check Hostess Tray – Large /Dominoes in Box /Zen and Tonic Book

While you’re planning your wedding, don’t forget—you’re planning a life too! That’s where your registry comes in handy. These essentials are all excellent choices, helping out with the heavy lifting on holidays and birthdays, at dinner parties with friends, and even on random Tuesdays. They’ll always be there to beautify the home and life you’re building with your partner. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

1. Flower Market Practical Pitcher Whether you fill it with lemonade or fresh cut flowers, you’ll find plenty of ways to use this gorgeous vessel.

2. Flower Market Rolling Pin Roll out dough in style with this beautiful kitchen tool. It’s so pretty that you’ll want to leave it out on display.

3. Tango Trifle Bowl Filled with fresh produce or your world famous Fourth of July dessert, this delicate glass serving dish makes every day feel special.

4. Courtly Check Enamel 7 Cup Measuring Cup Forget having to refill your measuring cup to get the full amount. This version holds an impressive seven cups!

5. Cookie Jar with Courtly Check Enamel Lid Stock this countertop stunner with sweets or treats for your favorite furry friend.

6. Blooming Wine Glass You’ll never get sick of sipping out of this delicate stemware.

7. Parchment Check Fluted Cake Stand Elevate a basic cake! The ceramic base with its ruffled edge makes any sweet a standout.

8. Piccadilly Beverage Hostess For the hostess with the mostess. Mix up one group drink or cocktail and your guests can serve themselves.

9. Flower Market Small, Medium, & Large Canisters – Black Store all of your countertop essentials inside these floral containers.

10. Courtly Check Enamel Roasting Pan with Rack A beautiful way to roast the bird and a handy rack that sits right inside.

Developing your skills in the kitchen can be a process but you learn so much by diving in! Starting out with simple recipes and graduating to more complex dishes takes time and a variety of pro-advice gleaned from cookbooks.

But how many times have you been elbow deep in flour only to realize that you’ve stumbled across a cooking term you’ve never heard of? No worries, we’ve compiled a list for you to hang on your fridge for next time you’re in a pinch. Here are some of the essentials:

AL DENTE:
An Italian term used to describe pasta that isn’t overly mushy. It’s cooked until it offers a little resistance when you bite into it.

BLANCH: Perfect for veggies, it’s when food is placed in boiling water and cooked slightly so it still has some bite to it.

MISE EN PLACE: Turns out this is just a fancy way to tell you to prep all of your ingredients before you start cooking. Pre-measure spices, cut up veggies, and pour liquids; it will make it easier than having to stop mid-recipe.

ROUX: A mixture of flour and fat used to thicken sauces.

CLARIFY: Commonly mentioned when talking about butter. It separates and removes solids from a liquid. Turning it clear.

DEGLAZE: 
Add liquid to a pan in which food has been sautéed or roasted and scrape up all little bits on the pan. The small bits of meat and juices add flavor to the liquid so you can use it as a sauce or gravy.

EMULSIFY: Combining two liquids—like oil and vinegar—that normally won’t bond together. Add in the oil slowly and whisk it with the vinegar to combine; allowing the two to combine for at least a short time.

DICE: 
When you cut food into small cubes that are the same size and shape.

DREDGE: To cover with flour or another flour-like substance.

FOLD:
Combining a fluffy food like whipped cream in with another substance without losing the lightness. Mix down to the bottom of the bowl then lift up and over until everything is combined.

GRATIN:
Yum! An oven-baked dish on which a golden crust made of breadcrumbs, cheese, or a creamy sauce forms. Think about the top of a bubbly mac n’ cheese or scalloped potatoes to get the right idea.

JULIENNE:
A cutting technique where you slice produce into long, thin strips.

MEUNIERE:
Food (typically meat) that is dredged with flour and sautéed in butter.

TRUSS:
To secure chicken or turkey with string or skewers so it holds its shape.

CASSERBOLE: A MacKenzie-Childs original! It’s part casserole dish part rounded bowl and is 100 percent awesome.

SOUR MILK: When you add an acid like lemon juice or vinegar to milk, it can be used in place of buttermilk for some recipes.

LEVAIN: A French term for a mixture of flour and water that is colonized by yeasts and bacteria and is used in bread making.

What words would you add to the list?

Shop the Post: Courtly Check Enamel 3 Qt. Saute Pan/Courtly Check Enamel 7 Cup Measuring Cup/ Courtly Check Enamel Pinch Bowl/Courtly Check Enamel Everyday Bowl-Extra Large/ Kitchen Garden Dish Towels-Set of Three/ Molly Creamer

 
Since Memorial Day weekend is basically the unofficial start of the summer season, we’re sure you’ve got plenty to toast to this weekend. Warm weather, a three-day weekend, or having family by for a barbecue—no matter the occasion, if you’re searching for a drink to fill our gorgeous Blooming Wine Glasses, here’s an idea. Try our strawberry lemonade cocktail or make it a mocktail instead. The perfect drink for summer, it’s refreshing and not too sweet. Here’s how to make it yourself:

Ingredients

1 container of fresh strawberries
1/2 gallon of fresh lemonade
2 cups of ice
3 oz. of vodka (completely optional)
1. Start with a base of fresh lemonade. So make your grandma’s recipe or buy your favorite brand. The higher quality the lemonade, the tastier the final product. Same with the strawberries. The riper, the better!
2. Fill a blender halfway with fresh strawberries. Add in two cups of ice and the vodka. Fill the blender with lemonade so that these ingredients are completely covered.
3. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust ingredients as needed.
4. Pour generous servings into the wine glasses, and garnish with a slice of lemon and a slice of strawberry.

5. Enjoy!

Cheers to the summer season! If you need us, we’ll be lounging dockside all weekend long and enjoying a nice little respite from work.


So you’ve been gifted or treated yourself to one of our gorgeous tea kettles, but now what? Obviously use it to make tea to your heart’s content but admit it, you’re a little nervous on how to keep that stovetop stunner in tiptop shape. But really, less is more when it comes to caring for this item. See below for our cleaning tips:

While the surface is strong and durable, and meets the highest US standards of food safety, these pieces aren’t indestructible. So obviously take care when using or storing, because scratches, chips, and dents can happen if you’re not careful.

Daily care: Wash using a nonabrasive dish soap and soft sponge, and then dry immediately. This will extend the life of the finish.

In case of rust: If you leave water sitting in the tea kettle rust stains or mineral deposits can form. To remove them, fill the kettle with water, add two tablespoons of baking soda, and the juice of a half of a lemon. Boil four to five minutes, rinse and dry.

Marks from silverware or to remove burnt on food: Apply a paste of baking soda and water and rub gently to remove marks. To remove burnt-on food, loosen with the same solution, then use a nylon or wooden scraper to remove the rest.

Other tips you might find helpful:

 Never boil tea kettles dry, it can damage the finish.

Allow the kettle to cool before refilling.

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