Picnic on a Budget

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I love hosting parties. I'm not great at it, but I say to myself I'm still learning and will get better with time. A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I had a picnic in Central Park- it was a great success and we did it for pretty cheap. Here's some tips if you're looking to throw one yourself! 

People & Invitation: We invited our friends in the NYC area, about 80 in total, 40 RSVPed yes, and at least 50 people showed up. I used Paperless Post to send the invitation 3 weeks before. We asked everyone to bring a beverage. I've found that 3 hours is a good amount of time to have a party- a lot of people usually don't have stamina for 4 hours, and 2 hours isn't really enough! We also got 3 red & white checkered (of course) picnic blankets. A good idea would be to bring a few balloons as well so people can find you. 

Food: We just had the basics. We also brought 100 small plastic plates and napkins. Here's a list of the food we brought:

  • 2 big bags tortilla chips (+ 1 big bowl if you prefer to eat out of bowls instead of bags!)
  • 3 containers salsa (+ 3 spoons) 
  • 2 big bags pretzels (+ 1 big bowl) 
  • 2 big bags baby carrots (+ 1 platter)
  • 2 big containers hummus (+ 2 spoons)

I also recommend bringing at least 1 roll of paper towels and a few large ziplock baggies for new & used spoons.

Another must-have is trash bags. I tried labeling mine "recycle" and "trash" but the labels didn't stick on too well. If you guys have better ideas for this let me know! 

My boyfriend and I also brought 2 coolers for drinks & the perishable food we weren't immediately using and cups. I brought 2 sharpies as well so people can write their names on their cups (I'm a slight germaphobe). 

Activities: We brought a number of games as well - including: 

  • A football 
  • Croquet 
  • 2 decks of cards 

Timeline

  • 3-4 weeks before: send out invitations
  • 2 weeks before: buy non-perishable items you need, e.g. coolers, picnic blankets, sharpies, games
  • 1-3 days before: buy food items you need, e.g. carrots, hummus, balloons (you can get helium-filled balloons at drugstores like CVS) 
  • Day of: Our party started at 3pm, and we got to Central Park at 1pm. It was already pretty difficult to find a shady spot, so I would recommend getting there earlier, probably around 12pm. My boyfriend went to fill the coolers with ice (Rite Aid and probably other drugstores have ice) once we got to the Park. 

All in all, it was a TON of fun and we ended up staying at the park until 10pm. Click here to see what items I bought and recommend for your picnic! 

Some of my Favorite Frozen Meals at Trader Joe's

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A lot of people stick up their noses to frozen foods, but they can be a healthy part of your life if your choose them right! Here are some of my favorites from Trader Joe's. A good NOTE: did you know Trader Joe's prices are fixed (they don't increase or decrease based on where you live) nationwide?? They're definitely one of the most affordable grocery options in NYC! All of these options are about $3! 

  • Turkey Bolognese: This is just straight ground turkey & tomato sauce (360 calories for the whole thing), and it is delicious! Pair it with 2 cups of zoodles (zucchini noodles) for a complete meal. 
  • Eggplant Parmesan: As this meal is 460 calories (for 2 servings, which I totally eat!), I would recommend it just by itself. I usually cook it in the microwave for an extra 2-4 minutes. 
  • Chana Masala: This dish is a delicious chickpea in curry sauce entree (360 calories total). I would pair it with 2 hard boiled eggs for a complete, filling meal at work. 
  • Palak Paneer: A mix of creamy spinach and cheese, this is one of my faves (320 calories total)! I would pair it with a serving of whole grain crackers or chips for a complete meal. 

National Food Days: September Edition

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I always feel like I'm out of the loop on Instagram when it's a "national" food day and I'm not prepared! SO I'll be posting monthly "Food Days" and their respective IG hashtag counts for you guys. Here it goes for September! 

September 5- Cheese Pizza Day #nationalcheesepizzaday 3.5k posts
September 10- National Hot Dog Day #nationalhotdogday 51k posts
September 18- Cheeseburger Day #nationalcheeseburgerday 28k posts
September 22- Ice Cream Cone Day #nationalicecreamconeday 4k posts; #icecreamday 42k posts; #nationalicecreamday 219k posts
September 26- Pancake Day #pancakeday; 389k posts; #nationalpancakeday 75k posts
September 29- Coffee Day #coffeeday 125k posts; #nationalcoffeeday 385k posts 

See the full list from Refinery29 here

Best Portion Control Picture Guides

It's annoying but sadly true: controlling portion size is really key. Anything in excess is excessive, no matter if it's whole wheat pasta, or apples, or chocolate. 

In my first counseling session with clients, I talk about portion size, and some go-to resources to help. WebMD has some fabulous guides to help, which I'll show here! 

Link to full resource: http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthtool-portion-size-plate

Here is a one-pager you can post on your fridge or keep on your computer. I just have a screenshot, but here is the link for the real deal:  

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The website ALSO has some really great VISUAL examples of correct portions by food group, shown below! 

All images here are (c) WebMD.  

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My Favorite Blogs for Bloggers

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I am constantly amazed by just how much you can learn on the internet. I have truly been at a loss as to HOW to start my own blog, whether I should EVEN CREATE a blog, and so many other specific, detailed questions I was just too busy (and lazy) to try to figure our by myself. THANKFULLY there are some truly amazing bloggers out there making our lives just that much easier. There are of course many more resources than the ones listed here - but these are some of my favorites!

1. Blogging4Keeps // blogging4keeps.com

I've been following The Fox and She (Blair) and Instagram for some time now - and some of her posts were mentioning a new blog she created called Blogging4Keeps. I've joined the private Facebook group - and it's been super helpful and supportive! And their weekly emails are also always PACKED with really helpful info.

2. Julie Solomon // www.juliesolomon.net

Julie Solomon is another great resource. Through her own blog, she's discovered what works best for other bloggers. Her website has a number of great resources. I also am currently listening to her podcast "The Influencer Podcast" - which features super successful influencers, I believe particularly on Instagram (I'm not too far in yet!). So far, so GREAT!  

3. Bloguettes // bloguettes.com

Bloguettes is a fab company providing a TON of resources for bloggers - all of those nitty gritty details! They have a Toolbox with stock photos and other downloadables, Webinar trainings, and a pretty awesome blog (about blogging of course). Also, their Stories on Instagram are always fun to watch some behind the scenes work! 

4. Elle & Co // www.elleandcompanydesign.com

First, Lauren Hooker's blog is pretty fantastic. It's specific and helpful for the types of questions I have- such ashas an amazing free resources including her Business Playbook (how to plan your business), 4-week brand challenge (to start designing your blog), website starter kit, and marketing guide (to start making those dollar bills). She also has a "Library" you can subscribe to with continuously updated resources.