Summer Nights by the Fire

Sitting by the campfire is, hands down, one of my favorite things to do.  So it shouldn’t be a surprise that when I moved to a home with a backyard, one of the first orders of business was a gardener and a fire pit.

Summer Nights by FireI’m sitting by it as I type this post.  Lol.  That’s right.  Regardless of what you’ve heard, crackling wood is just as perfect on a summer night (or rainy day as is the current situation) as it is on a cool fall night.

And it’s even better when shared with loved ones.  When you need an easy way to keep the party going past twilight, take your circle of friends into the yard for cocktails, conversation, and a cracking fire!

A portable fire bowl brings instant ambiance to outdoor parties – I love my Hampton Bay fire pit which was a permanent loan from my parents house but I recently spotted it at Home Depot for $89.00.  As host or hostess, here’s how to play it safe:

  1. FirePit Sign2Check local laws. Contact your community fire department to find out what types of fires, if any, are allowed. Some cities require permits for fire features. Others burn all open burning.
  2. Select a safe site.  Codes vary, but the general recommendation is to locate a fire feature at least 10 feet from structures and trees. Set fire bowls on a nonflammable surface, such as concrete, stone, or gravel.
  3. Ignite it right.  Burn only dry wood and kindling that’s no more than three-fourths the bowl’s diameter.  Fatwood is a good fire starter.  Don’t use lighter fluid or gas and cover with a domed screen to keep the sparks in (fyi, the Hampton Bay fire pit I mentioned earlier comes with a dome).
  4. Snuff it out.  Campfire Rules 101 state you NEVER leave a fire unattended.  Let the fire ebb slowly, then drizzle water on embers until they’re no longer smoldering.  Keep a fire extinguisher on hand for emergencies.

For other camping/campfire recipes, games, and entertainment ideas, check out our Pinterest board A-Camping We Will Go!

Here’s to warm summer nights with family and friends!


Lavender Infused Lemonade with Honey – the ONLY Summer Lemonade Recipe You Need!

Though I’m born and raised as a city girl, my roots trace back to the deep south and (in my Phaedra Parks’ voice) everybody knows it’s impolite to not have a cold glass of homemade lemonade or sweet tea at-the-ready for guests in the hot summer months.

Though southern belle at heart, there’s no better joy than discovering a remix on an “oldie but goodie” and this home-brewed Lavender Infused Lemonade with Honey hits the spot with a distinctive, refreshing taste and plenty of Vitamin C. Not to mention, it’s vegetarian, paleo safe, and gluten free – if you’re into those kind of things!

Your INGREDIENTS include:

Lavender Lemonade with Honey

  • 1 cup raw honey (local if you can get it)
  • 5 cups purified water
  • 1 Tbsp. dried, organic culinary lavender (or 1/4 cup fresh lavender blossoms, crushed)
  • 1 cup fresh-squeezed, organic lemon juice, strained
  • Ice cubes
  • Lavender sprigs, for garnish

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients:

  • Bring 2 1/2 cups purified water to boil in a medium pan
  • Remove from heat and add in honey, stirring to dissolve
  • Add the lavender to the honey water, cover the pan, and let steep (at least 20 minutes or up to several hours) to taste.

You can put the lavender into a tea infuser or reusable tea bag for easier clean up. Otherwise,

  • Strain mixture and either compost or discard the remaining lavender
  • Pour infusion into a glass pitcher
  • Add lemon juice and approximately another 2 1/2 cups of cold water, to taste.
  • Stir well.
  • Refrigerate until ready to use, or pour into tall glasses half-filled with ice, then garnish with lavender sprigs.

Lavender Herb

Okay, so listen closely! Use of lavender essential oil in this recipe is NOT recommended.


Consuming lavender oil can be toxic, cause allergic reactions, as well as contribute to hormone imbalances in men and boys. Signs of lavender oil toxicity include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, blurred vision, burning pain in the throat, difficulty breathing and skin rash.

If you suspect you have an allergy to lavender or decide to use essential oil – although we suggested against it – and start to exhibit any of these signs, please call Poison Control immediately!

Otherwise, step 8 is to simply, ENJOY!

Cheers to the summer!  Happy planning!



Barbecue Sundaes

You know you’re on to something good when the words Barbecue and Sundae are included in the same sentence but let me warn you, this deliciousness is not for kitchen newbies.  Of course, that sort of applies to me but there’s absolutely no way these won’t be on the menu of my next summer soiree.  I just might be taking the short cut – ie, a trip to my local barbecue rib shack and supermarket – and recommend that you do the same if you’re short on time (Trust me, they’ll NEVER know the difference) but if you’re the more adventurous (also known as SHOW OFF) kitchen type, below are the recipes for pork, slaw, and beans as published on


Shredded Barbecue Pork Roast

  • 1 (6-pound) bone-in pork shoulder roast (Boston butt)
  • 1 cup Barbecue Rub
  • Hickory wood chunks
  • Apple juice


Barbecue Rub

  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated garlic
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon lemon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Cole Slaw

  • 2 (10-ounce) packages finely shredded cabbage
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar


Baked Beans

  • 3 bacon slices
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans pork and beans
  • 1/2 cup root beer (not diet)
  • 1/4 cup hickory-smoked barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot sauce




Shredded Barbecue Pork Roast

  • Trim fat on pork shoulder roast to about 1/8 inch thick.
  • Sprinkle pork evenly with Barbecue Rub; rub thoroughly into meat. Wrap pork tightly with plastic wrap, and chill 8 hours.
  • Discard plastic wrap. Let pork stand at room temperature 1 hour.
  • Soak hickory chunks in water 1 hour.
  • Prepare smoker according to manufacturer’s instructions, bringing internal temperature to 225° to 250°; maintain temperature for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Drain wood chunks, and place on coals. Place pork on lower cooking grate, fat side up.
  • Spritz pork with apple juice each time charcoal or wood chunks are added to the smoker.
  • Smoke pork roast, maintaining the temperature inside smoker between 225° and 250°, for 6 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted horizontally into thickest portion of pork registers 170°. Remove pork from smoker, and place on a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil; spritz with apple juice. Wrap tightly, and return to smoker, and smoke 2 hours or until thermometer inserted horizontally into the thickest portion of pork registers 190°. Remove pork from smoker, and let stand 15 minutes. Remove bone, and chop pork

Barbecue Rub

  • Combine all ingredients. Store in an airtight container.


Cole Slaw

  • Combine cabbage and carrot in a large bowl.
  • Whisk together sugar and next 7 ingredients until blended; toss with vegetables. Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving


Baked Beans

  • Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp; remove and drain on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon.
  • Sauté diced onion in hot bacon drippings in skillet over high heat 5 minutes or until tender. Stir together onion, crumbled bacon, beans, and remaining ingredients in a lightly greased 1-quart baking dish.
  • Bake beans, uncovered, at 400° for 55 minutes or until sauce is thickened.

Divide 2 cups warm baked beans evenly among 4 Mason jars or large heat-proof cups; top each with 1/2 cup coleslaw, 1/4 pound warm shredded barbecued pork, and 1 to 2 tablespoons sauce.  Serve with dill pickle wedge, if desired.

Bon apetit!