I am excited to share that I am a featured sponsor for Jessica Guthrie’s blog, Mia Ma Miah’s Diaries, for blog Fest 2010! What is Blog Fest, you ask? Blog Fest is a blog “hop” of sorts, an event set this year from Sept. 10-12, where readers visit or hop from one blog to another. This event is designed to grow readership for each of the participating blogs.

The exciting part of Blog Fest 2010 is the giveaways. Yes, giveaways! Each participating blog hosts giveaways for readers to enter for the duration of the event. Mia Ma Miah’s Diaries is giving away $250 worth of prizes this year!

Here is the prize you can win from me, the Antiqued Entertaining Bucket and Tray from Willow House.

Jessica was ever so kind to do a feature sponsor spotlight of me, which you can find here.

You can find a list of participating blogs and rules for participating in Blog Fest 2010 here.

Enjoy and good luck! The best part is that you may even stumble upon, and become enamoured with, a blog you never knew existed. Cool.

Homemade Ginger Ale Recipe

Ginger water
1 cup peeled, finely chopped ginger
2 cups water

Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Club soda
Lime juice
Lime wedges

Method

1 Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add ginger. Reduce heat to medium low and let ginger sit in the simmering water for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 20 minutes. Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer. Discard ginger pieces.

2 In a separate saucepan, make the Simple Syrup by dissolving 1 cup granulated sugar into 1 cup of boiling water. Set aside.

3 Make individual (tall) glasses of ginger ale by mixing 1/2 cup of ginger water with 1/3 cup of Simple Syrup and 1/2 cup of club soda. Add a few drops of fresh lime juice and a lime wedge to each glass.

Makes four servings.

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Best Party Sangria

This Sangria recipe is perfect for big summer parties – always a favorite, you may consider doubling the recipe.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Rioja, Zinfandel, Shiraz)
  • 1 Lemon cut into wedges
  • 1 Orange cut into wedges
  • 1 Lime cut into wedges
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • Splash of orange juice or lemonade
  • 2 Shots of gin or triple sec (optional)
  • 1 Cup of raspberries or strawberries (may use thawed or frozen)
  • 1 Small can of diced pineapples (with juice)
  • 4 Cups ginger ale

Preparation:

Pour wine into a large pitcher and squeeze the juice wedges from the lemon, orange and lime into the wine. Toss in the fruit wedges (leaving out seeds if possible) and pineapple then add sugar, orange juice and gin. Chill overnight. Add ginger ale, berries and ice just before serving. If you’d like to serve right away, use chilled red wine and serve over lots of ice. However, remember that the best Sangrias are chilled around 24 hours in the frig. – allowing the flavors to really marinate into each other.
 

In the past few years there has been a trend of moving living spaces from the inside out. People are integrating outdoor living into their daily lives and are creating fully functional and furnished outdoor living rooms. This time spent outdoors has contributed to the increase the creation of outdoor kitchens with all of the bells and whistles found in interior gourmet kitchens are now present outside. Pizza ovens, ice makers, grilling stations, Viking appliances and wine refrigerators are just some of the things you are bound to find outdoors as part of this new trend. 

You can’t forget to have your outdoor spaced staged if you are in the market to sell. It surprises me how many homeowners will remodel a kitchen or bathroom, only to completely neglect the outdoor space. According to realtor.org, 90% of homebuyers used the internet as an information source in their home search compared with 87% who utilized a real estate agent and 40% who found a home for sale from a newsapaper ad. Those are some compelling statistics! Make sure the listing of your home show clearly defined and appealing pictures, including the outdoor space.

Not every home will have top of the line outdoor kitchen or living room, but it is essential to make sure the area is neat, well maintained and appealing.

I am actually in the process of redoing the outdoor space in my home and have come across some great spaces as inspiration.

This is a restaurant patio in Austin, TX, but I love the use of the lights strung across from the trees across the dining area. It provides an intimate setting at night as well as defines the space.

I love, love, love the use of canopies in this outdoor space.  Living in the desert, any opportunity to incorporate shade into an outdoor space is taken.

Who doesn’t want an outdoor fireplace? I love this space because of the incorporation of an outdoor seating area, right in front of the fire, perfect for end of summer get togethers.

Do you have a favorite feature of your outdoor living space? Share them here!

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