Summer Entertaining Tips | Build Your Own Lemonade Bar

Summer is here which means it is time for some outdoor entertaining!  I love taking parties outdoors where friends can linger into the evening under twinkle lights and surrounded around the fire pit.  

And what is better than treating your guests to delicious food, good company, and tasty drinks that whisk them away to an exotic vacation?  While I would love to bring my closest friends and family off to an island vacation, bringing them some resort inspired flavors to my very own backyard will have to do until I win the lottery! 

*Make sure your scroll all the way to the end to enter in to win a year supply of Torani Syrup!

I have always been a believer in providing activities for guests.  So today I am sharing a simple way to get your guests involved in the summer festivities by creating a build your own lemonade and sparkling water bar.

By having some sort of activity for guests, it gives something fun for your guests to do and talk about.  Especially with mixed company, the activity can be an ice breaker to conversation.  

I also love to create separate stations that allows guests to wander to different areas of the gathering.  By having a drink station in one place and food in another, it keeps party goers moving and able to naturally transition from one conversation to another.  Add in a fire pit for s'mores and a lawn game and you have fun for hours!

While it is great to have outdoor supplies for backyard gatherings, don't be afraid to take your indoor furniture outdoors.  I have used indoor tables, chairs, side tables, and consoles when my outdoor furniture just wasn't enough.  Most pieces can simply be wiped down after outdoor use plus they add a warmth that plastic folding tables just can't do.

When hosting a gathering I like to focus on the food and decor so when it comes to drinks I tend to keep things simple.  Lemonade and water is my go to.  But just because it is easy doesn't mean it's not fun!  By having Torani Syrups on hand, all I had to do was wash some fruit and I have a simple, sophisticated, and flavorful drink bar!

I like to keep powdered Country Time Lemonade on hand.  It is easy to make and something that everyone seems to enjoy.

For the sparkling water, you can use any brand you like.  Cans or single serve bottles keep each serving fizzy without any going to waste.  And if you want to go crazy, you can add some half and half for Italian cream sodas!

Canning jars and paper straws help dress up the table but clear plastic cups would also work just fine!  If you are serving up fancy drinks, a clear cup allows guests to show off their flavor concoctions!  Another conversation starter!

One of my favorite local coffee shops uses a stainless steel jigger (measuring cup) for their Italian Sodas so I of course wanted to have it for my own syrup collection!  The small side measures one ounce which is approximately two tablespoons and what I use for a single serving (I also use it to measure the cream for my coffee).

I have used pumps in the past as well but they do add height for storing the bottles.  If you have the space, the pumps are definitely nice to have.  But a cute little measuring cup works great as well!

These drinks can also be made into larger batches.  A giant punch bowl with fruit garnish always looks beautiful.  If you already have a gathering with lots of activity (like a bridal or baby shower), pre-making these drinks would be a great option. 

To add a little garnish and flavor I put out raspberries, mint, lemon, peaches, blackberries, and strawberries.  I love that they infuse natural flavor the longer it sits in your drink.  But if you are short on time, having just the Torani Syrups out is plenty of flavor and fun as it is!

You really can't go wrong with letting guests mix their own flavors.  But if you want to provide some recipes or inspiration, I put together a few of my favorite combinations for you to try.

Making a small sign or writing out recipe ideas on a mini chalkboard can also add to the decor and fill a table if needed.

So here are the recipes!

A good ratio of drink to syrup is one serving of liquid (8-12 oz) plus 2 tablespoons of syrup.  Of course you can do more or less to your liking but this is a good starting point.

I also used a mix of regular and sugar free syrup.  I like to offer choices for guests as everyone has different dietary needs.  But feel free to use your syrup of choice!

 // Blackberry Lemonade //

8 oz. lemonade
2 tablespoons Torani Blackberry Syrup

Garnish with fresh blackberries and lemon

// Mint Limeade //

8 oz. lemonade
2 tablespoons Torani Sugar Free Lime Syrup

Garnish with fresh mint and lemon

// Blackberry Lemon Sparkling Water //

8 oz. sparkling water
2 tablespoons Torani Blackberry Syrup

Garnish with fresh blackberries, lemon, and mint

// Strawberry Lemonade //

8 oz. lemonade
2 tablespoons Torani Sugar Free Strawberry Syrup

Garnish with fresh strawberries and lemon

I also used candied lemons from Trader Joe's to garnish the cup.  These make your drink look extra pretty while also offering a sweet treat to nibble on afterwards.

// Raspberry Peach Lemonade //

8 oz. lemonade
1 tablespoon Torani Raspberry Syrup
1 tablespoon Torani Sugar Free Peach Syrup

Garnish with fresh raspberries and peach

With Torani you never have to leave to go on vacation.  The scene may be ordinary, but the drink?  Transcendent.  Drinks inspired by favorite vacation destinations whisk you away to your paradise, even if you're still in your kitchen.  #AToraniVacation

Torani is made with simple ingredients, is easy to use and versatile.  One flavor is all it takes to create a variety of refreshments.  And with over 100 flavors, Torani has a flavor for everyone!

GIVEAWAY //  Torani is giving one lucky reader a YEAR SUPPLY of Torani Syrups!!!  That is twelve 750ml bottles of Torani syrup.  Leave a comment below to enter sharing what flavor you would like to try!  Open to U.S. residents only.

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This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Torani.  As always, all opinions are my own (and I have been a long time Torani fan!).  Thank you for supporting the brands that help make this blog possible.

Bumpie: Pregnancy Photobook

I am slowly catching up on photobooks these days, particularly ones surrounded around our son's first year.  Time keeps just passing by and I don't want to forget to capture these memories before some of the details begin to fade.  As I try to go through photos and figure out how to organize them all, I knew I wanted to have a book around all the baby bump photos I took.

Surely my one day adult son won't want a million selfies of his pregnant mom in his baby book (a few are definitely okay though!).  So I decided to make a separate book just for myself. 

As I went through the photos and got the book physically in my hands, I am so glad I went this route.  It really is a book that I am so proud of. 

To see myself transform - growing our sweet boy inside of me.  To remember how I felt throughout each change and to be reminded the miracle my body went through.  There is a lot of body image baggage that comes post birth but seeing these photos reminded me to be proud of my body's capabilities and how the experience continues to shape me as a woman.

Surely if and when the time comes to grow another child, I imagine things will be different.  That first pregnancy was so special - being able to bond with the process in the quiet of my own heart.  This book reminds me of that time and I am so grateful to be able to flip through these photos and be taken back to this simple and sweet moment in life.

I created the book with Blurb and included a few special memories along with the bump photos - like working on my son's quilt and note worthy moments of pregnancy.

I also love that my nephews are in a few of the photos.  It seems like so long ago now that I was caring for them.  Seeing them in these pictures takes me back to even more nostalgic feelings of what life was like before we moved and before our son arrived.

The book is the same size and format of the Instagram books I have made through Blurb.  Most of these photos were taken on my phone from a couple of years ago so the quality is lower than those taken on my regular camera. 

And my one complaint is that I didn't realize that my cover design started after the binding.  If you look at the image below you will see my corner brackets are not centered.  If you use the premade layouts in Blurb, you wouldn't have this problem.  But I like to be able to customize the covers outside of what is available.  So this is just a small lesson learned for future books.  As a perfectionist, this could drive me crazy.  But I am learning to be okay with it!  The book is done which is better than not done.  So I am happy.

See more photobook/memory book ideas here.
And yes, we are trying to have another child.

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