Pink Wings

Perfect Picnic Essentials

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #newOREOThins #CollectiveBias

So the official beginning of summer was yesterday. There are so, so many things I love about summer, but one of those is picnics! And the best part of picnics is that they don't even require you to go far. They can be big weekend get-togethers, or they can just be a way to spice up a weekday. This one was at a nearby park, just a short walk away from our abode.

To celebrate the start of this summer season, I decided to share my list of what I consider to be essentials for the perfect picnic, as well as some tips. I wrote up a checklist for all the things you need to set that fun, romantic mood that every picnic should have. Check it all out below!

My inspiration for this post came from the new OREO THINS. I love their minimalistic delicate look, and that's what I was going for with this picnic. The OREO THINS are a lot crunchier than the regulars, with the perfect amount of cream, and they're sooo good, guys. The bites you see in my photos were not necessarily for artistic purposes. I included these in my picnic because they're perfect portable treats, and you can grab them at Walmart. Mine carried the OREO THINS Mint (omg so good), original OREO THINS,  OREO THINS Chocolate, OREO THINS Golden, and there are the OREO THINS Lemon too. You can grab them in either the normal packages, or 12-pack boxes of individual sizes.

Have you tried them? What's your favorite flavor? And do you have a favorite summer activity??

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1. Picnic Basket: these can get really pricey, so I suggest keeping an eye out while thrifting! I went out looking specifically for a picnic basket one day and expected to stop by several thrift stores in my search. I don't know if I was just lucky, but I found two beautiful picnic baskets at my first store and bought this one for no more than 8 bucks. Maybe it was 4, I don't remember. Either way, try it out!

2. Flowers: a picnic basket is not complete if it's not spilling with summery flowers. Trust me, it's necessary.

3. Picnic Blanket: a lot of advertised picnic blankets are practical, but let's be honest, they're often not as cute. I recommend looking in the throw blanket section, that's where I found this cotton blanket I'm obsessed with.

4. Cheese and Charcuterie Board: some of our go-to's are prosciutto, good salame and pepperoni, smoked gouda, table water crackers, and hard bread sticks. I can't keep those hard bread sticks around me, though, they're insanely addicting.

5. Spill-proof Beverage Containers: I learned my lesson on a plane one day while attempting to put my backpack in the overhead bin. I thought the water bottle in my side pocket was trustworthy...but no, it leaked all over a poor guy sitting below! It was dripping right into his lap and I was beyond embarrassed! Luckily I had some homemade cookies with me and offered them as an apology, but the moral of the story is: just invest in spill-proof bottles, they will make your life so much easier.

6. Summer Fruits: they are a perfect summery treat to graze on while enjoying nature.

7. Plates, Glasses, Utensils: If you can only bring one non-disposable, I say go for the glasses! Picnics are extra fun when you're drinking out of fancy glasses.

8. Portable Dessert: minimal clean-up is ideal, and these have zero. Been obsessed with OREO THINS lately, I love the thin crunchy texture. I told hubby I'd save them for when he returns, but they're slowly disappearing... #oops

9. Clean-up: Don't forget essentials like paper towels for random messes, hand wipes, and plastic bags for dirty dishes and trash.


Breakfast in Bed Party Tutorial

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CentrumFunFlavors #CollectiveBias

Today's post is all about slowing down and treating yourself. See, hubby and I constantly seem to be on the road. Last month I found myself in NYC again for a SoFab On the Road conference, and by the time I returned hubby was already gone for a 3-week trip. Upon his return I almost left again to attend a wedding a couple states over, but realized we needed some slow-down time. So instead, I threw a party!

When you want to relax, what could be better than staying in your jammies and eating breakfast in bed, amiright? So here is a tutorial for a Breakfast in Bed Party for you guys. Tell your guests to come in their PJ's, bring a pillow, and relax. Set up your table with breakfast trays, flowers for the trays, and a smorgasbord of breakfast food. Then add some DIY gold pineapple pillowcases and some gift baskets and it's a party.

The gift baskets have a treat-yo-self theme so that guests can continue to pamper themselves at home. Think: an eye mask and relaxation candles, a sunny side up cookie for sugar breaks, and Centrum Vitamints Raspberry and Gummies for everyday health boosts*. I think every little thing counts when it comes to health. Small choices like choosing wheat bagels over plain, baked donuts over fried, or substituting your mints and munch-ables for health-promoting ones are small decisions that set the foundation for better habits. Popping a Centrum mint or gummy is such a quick and convenient way to pamper your body, so it makes the perfect gift to round out these gift baskets. They're simple to put together and only require a quick Walmart run, full tutorial below.

Scroll down to find instructions for the gift baskets, along with links to all the recipes and DIYs you will need for this party. But whether you're throwing this party or not, stop by HERE to find some really great coupons so you can also enjoy staying healthy with simple solutions like Centrum Gummies and Vitamints.















Breakfast in Bed Party

What You Need:

1. Trays: the classic trays are the most fun part of breakfast in bed! The ones I used were a variety that I already had on hand but they can be very affordable. A couple were $8 trays that I had sprayed the sides of to be gold.

2. Flowers: Grab a variety of yellow and white flowers, arrange them in different-sized jars, and wrap with yellow and gold ribbons or twines. Separately, put together a row of single-flower jars for guests to place on their breakfast trays. Altogether my flowers cost me less than $30, not too shabby at all.

3. Food: The fruit cups are easy: fill with pineapple, mango and strawberries for a bright, sunny look. For everything else, click to see the recipes:

4. Gift Baskets: This breakfast in bed party is all about slowing down and treating yourself, so send your guests home with: Centrum Vitamints, Centrum gummies, an eye mask, sunny side up cookie, and relaxing candles. Find the tutorial below.

5. DIY Pillowcases: Tell your guests just to bring a pillow so that you can supply them with fun matching pillowcases. It's the easiest DIY, and such a fun touch. Find a tutorial for my gold fringe pineapple pillowcases HERE.



Gift Basket Tutorial:


You Need:

Directions:

Wrap your cookies in the cellophane bags and close with a twist tie. Fill bags or baskets with your gifts.



*These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Spiced Baked Donuts

Hubby and I both agreed these baked donuts kinda taste like carrot cake. And I adore carrot cake, so they are a big win in my book. Just make sure to halve the recipe if you share my non-existent donut discipline.... or double it for a party, because this is actually a teaser post to a fun party tutorial I've got coming up! Stay tuned for the ultimate Breakfast in Bed Party tomorrow!

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Spiced Baked Donuts
Makes 8

Donuts:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 large egg, room temp.
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Icing:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • yellow gel food coloring (opt.)
  • sprinkles (opt.) 
  • edible gold powder (opt.)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray donut pan with oil.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Set aside.

In a separate bowl whisk together the egg, brown sugar, milk and yogurt. Add melted butter and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into the dry, and mix until just combined.

Pour the batter into a pastry bag or ziploc bag and snip off the corner. Pipe the batter into your donut pan, filling each cavity about 2/3 full. Bake for 9-10 minutes until they start to brown around the edges. Let cool a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Let cool completely.

To make the icing: sift powdered sugar into a medium mixing bowl then add 3 Tbsp of water and whisk until smooth. Add more water or powdered sugar as needed, you want the icing to be thick but spreadable. If adding food coloring, divide between two separate bowls and add yellow food coloring to one until desired color is reached. Dip the donuts into each icing as desired, add sprinkles, and set aside to dry. Cover icing bowls with damp towels to keep them from drying out. Once the first coat of icing is dry, fill a pastry bag fitted with a small tip with icing and drizzle over the donuts to decorate. Let dry again. Once dry, brush on edible gold powder. Best eaten within the day, but can keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of days.



Donut recipe adapted from HERE.


Best Shaved Ice Ever: Strawberry Mango

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ReimagineCereal #CollectiveBias

Now I realize that "best shaved ice ever" may be a bit presumptuous, but I stand by my title :)

Shaved ice has become my favorite summer treat over the last couple years after I realized how many variations of it existed. In SE Asia I love the tropical fruit you can pile on top of your shaved ice, I always go for the mangosteen. In Hawaii we went to this one shaved ice truck almost every night we loved it so much, and my favorite combo was mango and strawberry. Korea wins for most creative shaved ice, they have just about any flavor and always know how to make things look fancy. This one I had in NYC's Koreatown recently was the bomb. Unfortunately, no plans to go back to any of those places soon, so I recently finished a quest to make a comparable shaved ice at home. I've been so excited to share this recipe because it exceeded my expectations in every way. Take my word, it's the best shaved ice ever.

I gathered all the components I believe are necessary for the perfect shaved ice, check it out:

1. Fluffy Shaved Milk Ice: in my opinion, fluffy shaved ice is essential. It's just a cut above inconsistent ice chips. And instead of shaved ice made with water...try freezing milk mixed with a bit of sweetened condensed milk. I promise it's so much better, and even when it melts it's still delicious. Yes you need a shaved ice maker for this recipe, but you can find them for as cheap as 10 bucks, they're extremely affordable. Just definitely try finding one that makes the fluffy ice. 

2. Good Quality Syrup: it doesn't take long to make your own syrup from fresh fruit, and it's so yummy. Recipe for a quick strawberry syrup included below.

3. Fresh Fruit: loads of delicious seasonal fruit is one of the best parts of summer.

4. Ice cream: it's like the cherry on top. You just need it.

5. Crunchy cereal: a bit of crunch and slightly savory component balances the dish out perfectly. Corn flakes are a common choice and my favorite. But also check out some new Kellogg's flavors like Raisin Bran Cranberry Almond Granola and Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows, yum. You should be able to find them at Safeway.

Do you guys have any unique ways you eat cereal other than with milk? I've used corn flakes before as a panko alternative, and other cereals in parfaits. I love the crunch they provide and think they are so versatile. There are so many uses for cereal outside of milk and a bowl, and they are definitely a necessity in this shaved ice dish. Make sure you give the full recipe a try, and please visit this website for more inspiration for creative breakfast and snack creations. Kellogg's is re-imagining cereal with new flavors and snack ideas, and there are some really delicious looking recipes there.


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Strawberry Mango Shaved Ice
Serves 3
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2-4 Tbsp sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pint strawberries, chopped
  • 2 medium mangoes, chopped
  • strawberry ice cream
  • Corn Flakes

Directions:

Whisk together the milk and 2-4 Tbsp sweetened condensed milk, according to taste. Pour into two containers and freeze, or however your shaved ice machine instructs. You can do this the night before to save time.

Make the syrup by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan over med-high heat. Stir frequently until the sugar is dissolved. Add one cup of the chopped strawberries and bring to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes until the mixture is thick. Strain syrup and refrigerate. If the syrup is too thick, whisk in a bit of water until it is a pour-able consistency.

To Assemble:
Shave the milk ice in your machine. Divide into bowls, and top with syrup, then fruit, a scoop of ice cream, and sprinkle with corn flakes. Enjoy!

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Patriotic Flower Cookies

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CelebratewithM #CollectiveBias

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that supporting the troops is a cause that is close to my heart. I have been part of a family with close military ties my entire life. I grew up a military brat, my pops being in the Army, and us moving every year or so. And I loved listening to my Grandpa's stories from WWII, especially one about him hearing something in the bushes while everyone was sleeping, almost throwing a grenade, but then seeing that it was just a donkey. Or how, because he'd lost his leg in the war, he would shock people while visiting my mother's homeland of Korea, because while everyone else was taking off their shoes before entering a house, he was taking off his entire leg. Haha.

It's definitely not always fun stories to be had being in a military family. Everyone suffers huge disappoints at some point, inexplicable assignments, unexpected separations, etc. We have a family member who just left for another long deployment in an even less desirable place than last time. I'm already thinking of ideas for packages to send. My top favorite thing to send is treats from our travels, aka chocolates, but I've had some unfortunate incidents in the past (eg a large bag of chocolates from Hawaii arriving in a big melted mess. Not smart on my part, it was summer....). So I've learned a bit since then. There is one chocolate I know for sure I can send, the ol' "melts in your mouth, not in your hand" one. Did you know that M&M's® were actually originally made for the troops? During WWII they were sold exclusively to the military, and they still do a great job supporting the troops. Just another reason I adore being a Mars ambassador. This year they are doing a "1 for You, 1 for the Troops" promotion. For every bag of M&M's® you buy at Walmart, they will donate a bag to the troops. But keep in mind this is only at Walmart, so make sure you buy your bags there. You can also make donations and print gift cards on the Walmart site as other ways to support the troops, and there will be in-store demos talking about the promotion, so check out if they're coming to your local store.

I have been on a sugar cookie rampage lately, and I amped them up in this recipe. I threw some chopped M&M's® into my go-to cookie recipe for added flavor and a patriotic look, and the M&M's® served as perfect little flower centers. I love how they turned out. Check out my video and recipe below! Do you guys have any fun military stories or creative ways to support the troops? If you want more ideas, find some HERE.

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Patriotic Flower Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen

Cookies:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • 1/2 cup M&M's® Red, White & Blue Milk Chocolate, chopped small
Icing:
  • 2.5 Tbsp meringue powder
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 lb. powdered sugar + more for rolling cookies
  • red and blue gel food coloring


Directions:

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg and milk. On low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Then add chopped M&M's®.

Shape the dough into two discs, cover them in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Heat oven to 375F. Prep two pans with silicon mats or parchment paper

Dust a clean surface with powdered sugar. Remove one disc from the fridge and roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick. Use flower cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Place at least an inch apart on your pans. Bake one sheet at a time, for about 9 minutes until the cookies start to turn golden around the edges. Let cool completely.

For the icing:
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment combine the warm water and meringue powder. Add the cream of tartar. Change to the paddle attachment and add the powdered sugar at once. Mix on slow for 10 minutes, scraping the sides once or twice. Test your icing to see if the consistency is just right. This is my favorite icing tip. Add more water or powdered sugar as needed.

Separate the icing into three separate bowls. Add red food coloring to one, and blue coloring to one. Mix well, and avoid creating bubbles.

Fit a pastry bag with a plain #3 tip to flood cookies. Let them dry for about 30 minutes or overnight, the use a plain #1 tip for finer details, and add an M&M's® to the middle for your flower center. Place a wet towel over icing that you're not using to keep it from drying out. Once decorated, let cookies dry overnight.



Sugar cookie recipe adapted from Alton. Icing recipe adapted from Sweetopia

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