12 Useful Gadgets for Quick and Easy Summer Food Prep

Be prepared for handling all things food this summer with these twelve handy tools.  Whether you are cleaning and cutting fruits and vegetables, cooking outdoors, or entertaining, these tools will help you be fast and efficient giving you more time to enjoy the season.

The summer season, more than any other, is when people tend to eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables thanks to backyard gardens and farmer's markets with fresh produce.  There is nothing better than slicing into a a fresh-from-the-garden tomato for a BLT or biting into a juicy, ripe peach as an afternoon treat.

These warm months are also when we do a lot of outdoor cooking whether it be on the grill or over an open campfire.  Why warm up the house turning on the oven when you can just as easily prepare dinner outdoors?

I'm not typically a fan of kitchen gadgets because they tend to turn into clutter rather than be helpful tools.  But.....I've actually found a few over the years that have made all the summer food prep quick and easy whether it be preparing those fruits and vegetables for eating, entertaining friends, or cooking your meal outside.  And best of all, they can help you create a special treat or meal to enjoy in less time and with less stress.

Do you have any favorite kitchen tools that help you be more efficient in your food prep?

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8 Things You Can Do to Make This Summer Special

Take some time away from all the things that "must be done" this summer and try a few of these ideas for enjoying the season and what is really important.

June is a month much like January and September.  It can be seen as a time to start over.  You've got three months ahead of  you to move life in a completely different direction or get caught up on the things you've been putting off.

There are so many possibilities in summer....it's a season of being able to enjoy all the little things in life like tweeting birds, the warm sunshine, sweet smelling flowers, and great tasting fruits.

How many of us really take the time to enjoy these things, though?  Are we more concerned with mowing the yard, painting the porch, and trimming the trees?  I'm not saying that these aren't important things to do in the summer (your neighbors wouldn't be too happy with the grass in your yard being six inches tall, I'm sure).  But I think we all need to take time from worrying about the important "jobs" we have to do, and spend some of it enjoying everything the season has to offer.

Best Macaroni Salad for Your Summer Picnics

A few special ingredients in this macaroni salad give the traditional summer picnic food a unique flavor everyone will love.

Macaroni Salad Recipe

With Memorial Day just a few days away, I have no doubt you are putting the final touches on your holiday picnic plans with friends and family.  Monday officially kicks off the summer season and I couldn't be more thrilled.

Chances are that many of you will be putting together some summertime salads to accompany the hot dogs and hamburgers likely be eaten across the country.  One recipe I turn to again and again throughout the year is for macaroni salad with eggs, mayonnaise, carrots, and celery.  (Another is Supreme Pasta Salad.)

An Anniversary and Some Exciting News

Hi friend!  Today is a very special day because.....it is my blog's fifth anniversary!

It still amazes me that although I am a person who normally gives up quickly on things that don't go perfectly the first time around (character flaw I'm attempting to work on, by the way), there is something about this space and blogging that keeps me coming back.

Sure, there have been plenty of extended "breaks" and a long list exists of things I could and should be doing to make my blog more successful.  And yes, many times the thought has popped into my head that it would be so easy to walk away from it all.  But......I'm still here.

Blogging is tough.  There is so much behind the scenes work that readers can never fully understand unless they are a blogger themselves.  You are a one woman (or man) show and must learn to be a creator, photographer and photo editor, writer, proofreader, promotion team, and business owner all tied up into one.  And as the industry grows, it changes, especially when it comes to social media and getting your blog out there into the world.  You've got to constantly be learning and experimenting to see what works.

Those many hats a blogger wears is part of the reason why I love what I'm doing, though.  I've enjoyed seeing things through the lens of a camera as far back as I can remember.  Creative writing became something I enjoyed my senior year of high school and continued after graduation.  And during college, the show Trading Spaces opened my eyes to realizing that I had passion and talent for decorating and designing rooms, while Martha Stewart has always been my role model in terms of homemaking and creating a thriving multi-faceted business.  Suffice it to say everything I love is rolled up into one exciting occupation with blogging.

One thing that I can say is true with just about every blogger out there is that as the days and months pass, you get better and more proficient at what you do.  When looking at old posts that I've done, I sometimes have to cringe at just how bad the photography was or how off-the-point my writing could be.  The good thing is that those posts were back in the days when few people were reading my blog or even knew it existed.  The bad part was that they were still basically good posts that no one has really seen.  So one thing I'm doing after five years here on anderson + grant is going back to some of those old posts and updating them for you to find and enjoy now - recipes that I continue to make time and time again, DIY projects and furniture before and afters that you can make for your own home, and tips for keeping your home clean and organized.

When my new blog design went live earlier this year, I included the tagline "Learning to Make a Home" in my logo.  After honestly years of trying to come up with an accurate way to describe the direction I wanted to take this blog, this phrase came to me last summer and has been guiding my thoughts from that day forward.

Regardless of your season of life, where you live or who you live with, or the income that you have coming in each month, we all have to make a home somewhere.  We all have space that needs to be decorated in a way that inspires and makes us happy.  And those spaces need to be kept clean and organized for us to thrive.  We all have to eat and feed those we love.  And we all have to find ways to make everything function together well so that we are productive and efficient.

As Emily Ley points out in her book A Simpliflied Life, "The work you do in and for your home - cultivating a space full of order and love - is called homemaking...."  So thinking along those terms, we are all homemakers to some extent and need to understand the basics of what needs done in that role to make the best use of our time, money, and energy.  There is so much we are expected to know and be able to do well whether it be painting a wall, cooking breakfast, or maintaining routines to keep everything running on schedule.  And my hope is that moving forward here we can really dig in together building a foundation of what you'll need to know to feel confident and successful in what you must get accomplished in your own home.

My real struggle all of these years has been with believing in myself and trusting the path that I want to take with my blog.  And not owning my own home has always kept the vision that I have had contained to what I could do where I am.  I haven't been in a position where I could rip down walls, landscape the yard, or take you on an entire house tour.  That has probably been the toughest part of the past five years - knowing what I want to share with you and what could help you in your own homes, but not being able to do it in the way that I would like.

Well, although there are still things to be worked out, I'm excited to say today.....that it looks as though I'm finally going to be buying a house!  My grandma's house, actually.  It is quite the fixer upper, but that is what makes it so fun.  It is literally going to be a blank slate that I can make my own.  The plan is to guide you step by step through the process of transforming any home into a sanctuary for yourself and your family......without spending a fortune and completely gutting the inside of the house to do it.

Don't get me wrong.....I adored watching Fixer Upper and the other shows that go in and basically start from scratch to create a beautiful place.  And over the years so many of my favorite bloggers have had the opportunities to completely update their spaces.  But my guess is that many of you are like me and don't have $100,000 just to spend on renovating your home.  And while new and completely fresh is wonderful, it isn't always possible.  But I don't think that anyone should have to live in a place that doesn't fill them with joy just because they are constrained by a budget.

I don't have a timeline for when all this might be happening yet as we are still trying to get the house emptied out to have an estate sale.  But that doesn't mean that I haven't started thinking through design plans and scouting out light fixtures!  I'll be sure to keep you updated as to when all of this will be happening and I'm also going to soon start posting some foundational posts such as how to renovate on a budget and how to build a cohesive design plan for your house.

I am beyond excited for this opportunity to really take anderson + grant to the next level.  I don't want to just renovate a room and show you the before and after.  My goal is to truly take you behind the scenes and show you exactly what I've done to update each space and give you tutorials on things like how to choose the correct light to hang over your dining room table that you can use in your own home.  I'll also be sharing some posts that include variations of the things I'm shopping for at the moment like furniture or rugs.

And.....I'm planning on starting to incorporate some videos of the process as well.  I am a behind the computer screen kind of gal all the way and do not love the idea of being in front of the camera at all.  But I also know that I love being able to watch as well as read what my favorite bloggers are doing and this seems like the perfect opportunity to start branching out.  So I'm going to attempt to step out of my comfort zone for you all.  We'll see how it goes!

So if you have made it to the end of today's lengthy post, give yourself a pat on the back and pour yourself a cold summer beverage to sit and enjoy as a reward.  From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you for joining me at this space.  Whether you are a new reader, you've been following since the beginning or you fall somewhere in between, I am so grateful for your support and following.  Here's to another five years and beyond!

And by the way, if you aren't currently a subscriber who receives my newsletters in your email inbox, be sure to subscribe in the box just a bit further down in this post so you don't miss a single thing!

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