Barbecues, Entertaining, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Picnics

10 Must See Outdoor Dining Tips

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Copyright: aruba2000 / 123RF Stock Photo

10 Outdoor Dining Tips You Must Know About

Dining outdoors is a great way to enjoy the beautiful weather in the summer months and lends itself to entertaining at home in a very casual and relaxed way.

Having said that, some planning is needed to provide your guests with a comfortable dining experience.

This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

1.  Comfortable Seating

I have to confess – I really hate going somewhere and not having a comfortable place to sit. If I’m not comfortable, I can’t relax, and if I can’t relax I won’t be having a good time.  Gosh that sounds grumpy doesn’t it?  Must be my age!

Having nice thick cushions on your patio furniture can make for a warm and inviting and comfortable space for your guests. And you can change up your look on the patio by using different cushions for different occasions.

I love these Pillow Perfect Outdoor Cushions on Amazon.  The colors are cool and pretty and remind me of the beach (which by the way I don’t get to visit often enough).

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2. Placement of the Grill

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Copyright: william87 / 123RF Stock Photo

You need to place the grill close enough to the dining area so you grill master is away from the festivities but not too close so your guests aren’t bothered by the smoke.  Always place your grill upwind from where you guests will be gathering.

3.  Skip the Tablecloth

If the day is breezy (which we all love the breeze when it hot out) it can cause havoc on your table settings and tablecloths.  Keep things casual and skip the table coverings.  Or if you like having something on your table to pretty things up a bit us a table runner and place your center pieces on top.  This beachy stripe outdoor table runner from Design Imports is pretty and will brighten up any patio table.  It’s machine washable too!

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4. Stock a Bar Cart with All Your Drink Essentials

Having enough beverages is important to keep your guests happy and tipsy! Wait, I meant to say hydrated…yes, that’s it…hydrated.

Anyway, you want to make it easy for your guests to grab drinks or play bar tender if they like.  You can read my post about the 7 must haves for your bar cart to get an idea of what to include.

Using a bar cart makes it easy to roll it back to the house for restocking too.  Something similar to the Bennet Outdoor Wicker Bar Cart is elegant and casual at the same time.

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5. Let Guests Know the Grilling Preference of The Entree

Let me just say here and now that I am a well done steak girl.  Any pink and I run for the hills.  So knowing which items are medium rare or well done is a big thing with me.  Meat grilling temperature markers take the guess work out of choosing which burger will suit your guests tastes.  These cute little markers will get the job done and will stop guests like me from running and screaming if they happen to choose the medium rare steak.

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6. Lighting

Make sure you have enough lighting if your picnic lasts until dark.  Citronella candles help with the lighting and also keep the mosquitoes away.

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7. Yard Games

It’s important to have yard games ready to go if you are going to have kids in attendance. Oh hell, let’s be honest.  At all the picnics I attend the adults are the ones out there playing the lawn darts and other games.  All the while the kids are begging for their turn. Having plenty of games should keep the kids (and adults) entertained.

8. Caddy Sets are a life saver!

Having plenty of condiments available to your guests will allow everyone to pile their burgers with all their favorite toppings.  DEI has the cutest Picnic Table Shaped Condiement Set I’ve ever seen.  It’s super cute and affordable enough to pick up more than one so you can scatter them around the patio.

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Don’t forget about the silverware.  Having the silverware in an easy to reach spot is necessary or you will spend your day running back and forth from the kitchen to fetch more for those guests who are a bit more clumsy.  Plastic cups can be used to hold your forks, spoons, and knives.  Or you can get a bit more decorative and use this Galvanized Metal Bucket Tray Set for your flatware.

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9. Keep Your Centerpieces simple

Pretty wildflowers in clear vases will add a touch of soft fragrance and casual elegance to your table.

10.  Have Fun!

Now that all the planning is done, sit back and relax.  Enjoy yourself.  Enjoy your guests. Sip your favorite cocktail and make some memories and laugh…always laugh.  It’s the key to being happy!

What are your favorite outdoor party planning tips?  Let me know in the comments!

Until Next Time,

Kathie

 

 

 

 

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Barbecues, Entertaining, Fourth of July, Holidays, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Picnics, Recipes

10 Unique and Tasty Side Dishes That Will Wow Everyone this Memorial Day

10 Side Dishes That Will Wow Everyone this Memorial Day

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It’s that time of year again.  School is ending for summer break, the weather is getting warmer, and Memorial Day is right around the corner.  All of this means picnics, barbecues, and bonfires are on everyone’s schedules.  Let the fun times begin!

Then the next question is what should I bring to Aunt Sue’s annual Memorial Day picnic?

Don’t worry!  We have you covered.  We’ve looked high and low and found some fabulous and tasty and unique side dish recipes that will have everyone raving about your culinary genius!

This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

1.  Broccoli Salad – by The Girl Who Ate Everything

I recently made this for a church dinner and it was gone within minutes!  I used sunflower seeds for the almonds and added in some cheddar cheese.  The dressing is delicious and easy to make too.

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Broccoli Salad – by The Girl Who Ate Everything Blog

2.  Deli Pasta Salad – by Kraft

This recipe is so easy to make and is always a big hit at picnics.  It’s been my go to recipe for years.

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Deli Pasta Salad – by Kraft

3. Fresh Fruit Salad – by Tastes Better From Scratch

Fruit salad is a perfect dish to take to your next picnic or barbecue.  It’s sweet, delicious and offers something a little healthier for those guests who are watching their calories!

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Fresh Fruit Salad – by Tastes Better From Scratch

 

4. Caramel Apple Salad – by SkinnyPoints

The caramel apple salad has been a favorite of mine forever!  It’s super easy to make, healthy and it tastes yummy.  What more could you ask for?

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Caramel Apple Salad – by SkinnyPoints

5. Cowboy Cornbread Trifle – by 52 Way to Cook

I had the fortune of eating this recently at a fundraising dinner I attended.  It was so good! And you can make it the day ahead so you aren’t rushing around on the day of your event.  As a matter of fact it tastes better after all the flavors have a chance to sit and marinate together.

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Cowboy Cornbread Trifle – by 52 Ways to Cook

 

6.  Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad – by The Creative Bite

This is definitely going on my list of dishes to make.  It looks delicious and is super quick and easy to make.

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Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad – by The Creative Bite

 

7.  Summer Berry Cheesecake Salad – by Cakes Cottage

Oh my!  This looks absolutely delightful.  What a perfect dish to serve on a hot summer day.  So fresh and cool it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser.

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Summer Berry Cheesecake Salad – by Cakes Cottage

 

8. BBQ Ranch Pasta Salad – from Spicy Southern Kitchen

This unique pasta salad will feed the whole neighborhood and won’t take you hours to prepare.  It’s on my must try list!

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BBQ Ranch Pasta Salad – from Spicy Southern Kitchen

 

9. Old Fashioned Potato Salad – by Love Bakes Good Cakes

Oh potato salad how I love thee!  This recipe is just like the one my mom makes.  I always ask her to make it when I am home visiting.  Maybe it’s the love she puts in it when she is making it, but this simple, easy to make recipe is my favorite!

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Old Fashioned Potato Salad – by Love Bakes Good Cakes

 

10.  Tequila Lime Coleslaw with Cilantro – by The Chunky Chef

Nothing is better than the cold, crisp crunch of coleslaw!  This recipe sounds delicious and is one I will be making very soon.

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Tequila Lime Coleslaw with Cilantro – by The Chunky Chef

 

Let me know which one of these recipes you love the most or which one you just can’t wait to try.

Until Next Time,

Kathie

 

Uncategorized

Dear Mother’s Day: You’re Not All You’re Cracked Up to Be!

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So, I survived Mother’s Day.

That’s the way I feel sometimes.  I always feel such pressure to have the most idyllic Mother’s Day.

I see posts on Facebook about how perfect everyone’s life is or appears.  How they spent Mother’s Day with their mothers and went to brunch. And they post these pretty pictures with everyone looking happy and perfect and content.

Generally I am not an envious person.  But on holiday’s I do get a bit jealous I suppose.  I live in a small mid-west town where everyone grew up here and has all their family here. So holidays are spent with family, extended family and extended extended family. I however, live 15 hours away from my family.

It’s just me and my husband and our 2 children. Holiday’s are pretty low key around here.  Which I absolutely adore.  The quiet time is a nice break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

But the Facebook posts get to me after awhile, especially when the day isn’t going my way.  And yesterday was one of those days…

Kids bickering with each other all day long.  A teenage daughter who yelled at me all day because she was tired from a busy hectic weekend. Plus having to do 2 homework projects that she hadn’t even started yet.  A teenage son who was upset because my husband and I wouldn’t let him drive to church (he recently got his driver’s license), but I can’t see the point of him driving in a separate car to go to the exact same place we are going.

My husband had to work in the afternoon so he was locked away in our home office while I dealt with the kids and all their drama.

And even though I don’t have perfect and pretty pictures to show it – my son refuses to have his picture taken EVER – I still had glimmers of love and appreciation from both my kids.

For the first time they actually spent their own money on gifts and went and bought them without my husband.  Lush bath bombs from my daughter and chocolate and body lotion from my son.  And beautiful cards which expressed love and emotions that mother’s of teenagers rarely hear.

The day did get better.  My daughter apologized for her outbursts.

As I was going to bed my son came to me and gave me a great big hug and said he was sorry my Mother’s Day was so stressful because of how he and his sister acted.

And while I don’t have perfect, pretty pictures to post on Facebook, I do know that I am loved and appreciated by my little family.  And that’s worth so much more than a fleeting moment captured by a photograph.

Until Next Time,

Kathie

Gifts, Mother's Day

20 Last Minute Mother’s Day Gifts That Won’t Break the Bank

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20 Last Minute Mother’s Day Gifts

(That Won’t Break the Bank)

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Ok, who else is scrambling around trying to decide what to buy Mom for Mother’s Day? Can I get a show of hands?  I know there are a few of us out there who haven’t even thought about what to buy yet.

Below you will find 35 last minute Mother’s Day Gifts that can be ordered from Amazon and if you have Amazon Prime you will receive it within 2 business days.  Sweet!  If you don’t have an Amazon Prime account you can sign up at Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

1. Rustic 4×6″ Picture Frame – by Malden International Designs

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2. 12 Fresh Cut Rainbow-Swirl Roses w/Vase – by Kabloom

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3. Picnic Backpack Bag with accessories – by Apollo Walker

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4. Mom and Me Cookbook – by Annabel Karmel

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5. Whistling Tea Kettle, Owl – by Supreme Housewares

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6. Glass Coral Tree with Ornaments 6″ – by LSArts

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7. Wine Bottle Stopper “Mom’s Little Helper” – by Deco Flair

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8. Wooden Decorative Sign “I’m so lucky…” – by About Face Designs

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9. Crystal Winetini Glasses 17 oz. – by Rolf Glass

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10. 50×60 Inch Quilted Throw – by Duke Imports

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11. Iced Tea Glasses 14.5 oz. – by Rolf Glass

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12. Stoneware Mug with Mother Poem – by Petals

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13. Mango Pear Spa Gift Set – by Freida Joe

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14. Bath Bombs Gift Set – by Hanza

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15. Prayer for My Mom Wall Art – by James Lawrence

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16. Bamboo Cutting Serving Board for Mom – by Stocking Factory

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17. Wood Finish Jewelry Music Box (Wind Beneath My Wings) – by Cottage Garden

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18. Burt’s Bees Classic 6 Piece Gift Set Tin – by Burt’s Bees

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19. Mom Life:  A Snarky Adult Coloring Book – by Papeterie Bleu

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20. Amazon Print From Home Gift Card – by Amazon

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Now you’re all set!  Just have Amazon ship it direct to her and she will love you forever.  Well, we all know she will always love you, but now you won’t feel guilty for forgetting Mother’s Day. 🙂

Until Next Time,

Kathie

Coffee Mugs, Gifts

25 Unique and Funny Coffee Mugs You Can Purchase Right Now

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25 Unique and Funny Coffee Mugs You Can Purchase Right Now

We all have that one person we have difficulty knowing what to get them.  That’s why I love coffee mugs so much.  Everyone likes funny and unique coffee mugs. Heck, I don’t even drink coffee and I love them!

So, I’ve scoured the online shopping universe and found some of the best coffee mugs that will satisfy even the most difficult person on your shopping list.

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

  1. The Original Prescription Mug By BigMouth Inc

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2. Do not disturb while watching football mug by Timmer

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3.  Heat Changing Constellation Mug by The Unemployed Philosophers Guild

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4.  I Would Exercise But It Makes Me Spill My Coffee Mug by Clay Art

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5. A.S.A.P. “As Southern As Possible” Mugby About Face Designs

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6. I Can’t Even Mug – by LaTazas & MAUAG Funny Mug Gifts

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7. Badass Trombonist Mug – by Starry Knight Store

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8.  Get Your Shizz Together People Mug – by Stone Creek Boutique

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9.  Ceramic Unicorn Coffee Mug by Comfify

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10.  Rubiks Cube 3D Mug by Paladone

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11.  Handmade Wood Coffee Mug – by WorldWood

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12. I Flunked Anger Management Mug – by BigMouth Inc.

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13. Builder at Work Mug – by Codyne

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14. Nope Not Today Mug – by Boston Warehouse

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15. Sister Poem Mug – by Petals

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16. Hand Painted Vintage Floral Mug – by Moonwind

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17. I Will Not Knit Today Mug – by CoolShirtDesigns

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18. Nurses Earn Their Wings Mug – by About Face Designs

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19. I Like Big Cups and I Cannot Lie – by AmazCups

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20. Grenade Mug – by BigMouth, Inc.

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21. Dear Mom Mug – by Smashed Banana

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22. Violin Handle Mug – by Buyneed

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23. The Original Donut Mug – by BigMouth, Inc.

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24. Handcrafted Peacock Mug – by Claybox

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25. F Bomb Mug – by BigMouth, Inc.

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Which ones did you like best?  I seriously love #21.  I gave it to my parents for Christmas. My family had a good laugh over that one – even my bratty sibling!

Until Next Time,

Kathie

 

Entertaining, Holidays

Happy Cinco de Mayo

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Copyright: nadezdagrapes / 123RF Stock Photo

Happy birthday to my daughter Linnea!

Wait.  What?

Yes, my newly 14 year old daughter shares her birthday with the Cinco de Mayo celebration.  Which is kinda cool don’t you think?  I’m pretty sure she will enjoy it more as she gets older (21 and older).  It’s like a built-in party on your birthday!

Cinco de Mayo means the 5th of May.   The holiday commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory in 1862 over the french at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican war. And while it is celebrated in Mexico it isn’t a federal holiday.  Actually it’s a pretty minor affair for our neighbors to the south.  It is celebrated in Puebla with parades, speeches and re-enactments of the battle.

Within the United States Cinco de Mayo has taken on a much broader meaning.  This is the day we get to celebrate the Mexican culture and heritage.  The day is celebrated with parades, mariachi music, parties, fabulous Mexican cuisine, and of course cocktails!

Chicago has one of the larges Cinco de Mayo celebrations with events and an abundance of Mexican restaurants dishing out their yummy food.

You can have your own Cinco de Mayo celebration right in your own backyard.  Mix up some margaritas, make some tacos and enjoy the evening with good friends.

Christina on the It is a Keeper blog has some fabulous easy to make Cinco de Mayo recipes.  Oh and she has cocktail recipes too.  Be sure to check it out. Best Cinco de Mayo Recipes.

So go ahead and have a margarita today – it’s the least you can do to help celebrate Mexican heritage!

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Until next time,

Kathie

Entertaining

20 Tips on How to Mix A Perfect Cocktail

Armanetti Liquors or Armanetti Beverage Marts as they are now known are one of Chicagoland’s leaders for providing fine wine and spirits.  I came across an old Mixology booklet from them at a local flea market a few months back.  I’m guessing it to be from the 50s or 60s as the phone number on the back contains a 2 letter extension before the numbers.

Of course there are tons of fabulous cocktail recipes, but there is also a section of Do’s and Don’ts of Proper Mixing.

I thought I would share them here!

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

 

Cocktail Do's and Don'ts

 

  1. Do use a jigger (1 1/2 ounces) when measuring your liquor.  Don’t rely on your eye

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2. Do Measure all ingredients exactly.  Don’t guess, you may spoil the drink.

3.  Don’t shake when you should stir and don’t stir when you should shake.  Each has it’s own meaning.

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4.  When possible, do chill your cocktail glasses before serving.  Serving drinks ice cold will improve their taste. A perfect way to do this is find some freezable glasses like these:41bQub6h2mL

Or if you really want to chill all of your glasses and add some professionalism to your home bar you could get a glass chiller:

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5.  You can frost your glasses by wetting them before putting them in the freezer.  Sugar frosted glasses should be rimmed with a slice of lemon and dipped in a saucer of fine sugar, then into the freezer.

6.  Don’t change your order of ingredients.  It should always be ice first, then whiskey, then mix.

7.  Slice or squeeze fruit just before using.  Fruit and juices go stale when left to stand, even when refrigerated.

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8.  Fresh fruit juice always makes a drink better than canned juice.

9.  For small parties, you can make enough of your own juice by emptying your trays well in advance, into clear plastic bags.  The bags should then be placed in the freezer.

To add a little fun to your parties include a themed ice tray or find a spherical ice tray such as these I found on Amazon.

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These Tiki Ice molds are perfect for parties with a beach or luau theme!

Or try these spherical ice trays to make round ice!

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10.  Ice should be taste free and crystal clear.  Avoid using ice that has been exposed to foreign odors.  For larger parties it is best to obtain ice from and ice machine or ice company.

11. Don’t make the second drink with the same ice cubes.

12. Do strain your cocktails, unless otherwise indicated, but don’t use silver, use a wire strainer.

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13. Don’t keep drinks in your cocktail shaker. The drink will taste flat if the ice is allowed to melt in it.

14. Don’t fill cocktail glasses more than three-quarters of the way.

15. Don’t let spirited drinks sit in metal containers for any length of time.

16. Don’t stir carbonated drinks vigorously or you will encourage them to go flat.

17. Do soak lemons in cold water to get more juice and for easier squeezing.

18. Don’t stir a drink containing a lot of ice too much. You might dilute it too much.

19. Do dissolve sugar in a little water before mixing it in the drink.

20. Do – enjoy the fruits of your labor!

How do you mix a perfect cocktail?  I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!

Until next time,

Kathie