Colorful Fun Food

Making food look appetizing is always a goal, but making it beautiful, fun, and interesting adds an extra element of enjoyment! It is actually easy, too! I was so happy to discover fruit powders (I order from Suncore Foods) and to learn more about their superfood status and health benefits. It takes smoothies and parfaits to another level! I have made gorgeous yogurt parfaits for adults and adorable unicorn parfaits for kids- read on to see those and more!

My absolute favorite (so far) is the Pitaya Powder. Pitaya is pink dragon fruit- and so the bright, pink color comes naturally. Pitaya powder is full of vitamin C, protein, fiber, and essential amino fatty acids- along with several of the B vitamins.

For this parfait, I layered Greek yogurt mixed with blueberry fruit powder, plain Greek yogurt, yogurt mixed with hibiscus powder, and then the top is yogurt mixed with pitaya fruit powder. I used 3 different medium sized bowls to mix the yogurt with the 3 different powders. Blueberry was my second favorite choice, and hibiscus was my third favorite. Hibiscus is very tart and so be sure to use a smaller amount. I would suggest starting with 1/4 teaspoon of a fruit powder mixed with 1/4 cup yogurt. Add more or less according to your taste preferences. I always end up adding a little more pitaya. You can see the layers in the photo below…

I also love to garnish desserts with edible rose petals, and I find those at Suncore Foods, too. You can see them scattered here and on top of the parfait beside the blackberry. What you can’t see is the fruit that is in the parfait- but it is there! I love berries and chopped apples in between the layers of yogurt.

Another way to use fruit powder is to make a colorful fruit dip. Here I filled a platter with a rainbow of fruit and added small ramekins filled with fruit dip. The dip is a simple combination of whipping cream and lemon curd- and then I added a 1/4 teaspoon of different fruit powders to make each one have a different flavor…

To make the different flavored dips, I ordered a bundle pack that included 4 choices. I chose Butterfly Pea, Pitaya, Blueberry, and Hibiscus (clockwise from top in the photo above). You can see more of the choices in the photo below…

EASY LEMON FRUIT DIP

Ingredients~

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup lemon curd (you can find in grocery store pre-made or make your own)

1/4 teaspoon of fruit powders separated

Directions~

  1. Pour whipping cream into a bowl (cold, metal bowl works best if you have it)
  2. Beat until cream is thickened and then add lemon curd
  3. Whip until soft peaks form
  4. Separate dip into 4 bowls and add desired amount of fruit powder and stir.
  5. Refrigerate and serve with your favorite fruits.



UNICORN PARFAITS

My third suggestion for how to get creative using food powders is to surprise your favorite littles with a Unicorn Parfait! The parfait part is made in the same way as described at the top of this post. Simply mix your favorite yogurt with 1/4 teaspoon of fruit powder (each flavor in a different bowl). Layer each flavor of the parfait in a small clear glass or bowl so that the colors show, adding blueberries and/or strawberries between each layer.

For a little extra fun, I added a layer of sprinkles between the white and pink layers. The fresh fruit is also in there between the layers of yogurt. The marshmallow unicorn face is easy to make using edible markers and premade sugar flowers found at Michael’s. I used a toothpick dipped in frosting and then rolled in sprinkles to make the unicorn horn. Attach the horn by pushing it into the top of the marshmallow. The ears are snips of marshmallow made by cutting the top of a marshmallow horizontally and then cutting that piece in half. You can use frosting to attach the ears. Simply draw on the eyes, nose, and cheeks using an edible marker.

And then, the easiest part of all is to place the marshmallow unicorn on top of the layers of fruit and yogurt. Serve and watch those eyes light up with excitement!

If you want the unicorns to stand tall, just put the marshmallow on a tall wooden skewer or straw (or a wooden skewer covered with a straw). These are really fun to serve for a special breakfast or birthday treat. I hope you enjoy all of these ideas!

XO,

Lydia

Lydia Loves… ~ Edition 3

Hello, Friends! One of the things I love most is hearing from you! This edition of Lydia Loves starts with a useful and fun find sent to me from my friend Lee Ann who lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Feel free to share ideas with me when you find something that you think we would all enjoy knowing about- just like Lee Ann did! And, as always, let me know what you find on these lists that are new to you and that you have found useful for yourself or for others! It is fun to swap ideas and help us all live our best creative lives! 🙂

  1. Paper Placemats from Hester and Cook

These placemats are perfect for indoor and outdoor entertaining! They dress up a table with beautiful patterns and colors, and they come in a large variety of themes! From sophisticated looks to whimsical children’s patterns, you will find one suited to your tablescape.

I really like that I can accent a particular look without investing in 12 placemats that I may only need a few times- and I can get the look I want without having to find a way to store them. You can use them and then recycle!

I love this placemat set for a twist on red, white, and blue for July.

Both of these patterns would be great for summer. You can get colorful with the pattern shown above, or use a more conservative placemat like the one shown below and dress it up with tableware and patriotic decorations. I like the red, Swiss dot for many occasions- from Independence Day to Christmas to Valentine’s Day to family birthdays!

2. Reinvented Shower Cap by SHHHOWERCAP

Ah, a shower cap makes me think of images of olden days and perfectly coiffed hair stiff with hairspray. But, it is time for me to think again. Have you seen these newly-designed shower caps that pretty much negate everything you ever thought a shower cap was? Meet SHHHOWERCAP! First of all, they have tons more style, but even better they have such better functionality!

In a nutshell, this new design keeps humidity from completely ruining your hairstyle. It dries right away because water is repelled rather than soaked into the cap. The elastic band is redesigned so that it keeps water out, and it doesn’t leave an indention around your head when you remove it. And so, to recap (lol), there is now a shower cap made modern with cool fabrics and function like no other! As a bonus, Shhhowercap will replace your cap if you have a problem- I love that!

3. Earrings by Mae Wearable Art

Mae Wearable Art is a collection of jewelry handmade by Margaret Mewborn. I had the pleasure of meeting Margaret and having dinner with her at The Southern C Summit in February. I was immediately drawn to her happy disposition, enthusiasm for creating, and appreciation for life. Mae Wearable Art has a big variety of styles and collections to suit many tastes- and I was especially touched by her collection that was created in memory of her best friend. Here I am highlighting the blue cross earrings in medium, but be sure to see all of the colors and sizes… I love these for gift giving, and I also love the price range!

Margaret lets her spunk shine through in so many of her designs. Each one is extra-special because of its handmade nature. Supporting an art is one of my favorites because you truly receive a thoughtful, one-of-a-kind item that is created just for you. I am loving one of her newest designs. These earrings would be perfect for all summer …

4. Beach Towels and Beach Bags by Taylor Beach Design

Vivid, spirited, and fun is how Taylor Beach Design is best described- which also happens to be her tagline! I couldn’t agree more- and I couldn’t love her entire newly-designed online store more, either! You should definitely take a look at all of the fresh designs waiting on all of us to enjoy! I first discovered Taylor’s talent when she hand-painted Christmas ornaments for our Christmas trees. I love seeing what is new each time she expands her line, and now there is so much to see all at once. It was hard to choose what to share, but I decided on beach towels and totes…

Many of the beach towels can be personalized…and there are many beautiful and fun designs!

I love all of the beach bags/totes- they make us look pulled together and ready for the day when we pack our towels, sunscreens, and snacks. You can coordinate the tote and towel if you like- but I wanted to show you some of the variety that you will find!

5. Superfood Super Color Fruit Powder from Suncore Foods, Inc.

One of my favorite food discoveries- Super color powders from Suncore are naturally beautiful fruit powders that are healthy, organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO. My favorite way to use the fruit powders is with Greek yogurt and fruit- but there are so many creative ways to add a dose of pretty (and healthy) to your food! The fruit powder is also great to add to juice, smoothies, dips, and so much more. The natural colors will wow you! My very favorite is the Pitaya Powder, but I love ordering a set of 4 flavors at a time to try the different tastes…

I literally use pitaya powder each day with yogurt and fruit- and here is another way I have used the powders for my family…a fruit platter with a variety of fruit dip flavors. I will share a few more of my favorite ways to enjoy the fruit powders soon!

Photo by Lydia Menzies

6. Blue and White Striped Tray with Ginger Jar Pattern from Parker Kennedy Living- The Cellar

Having a tray handy for serving appetizers or snacks is always a nice touch- and this blue and white tray is an exceptional find from Parker Kennedy Living- The Cellar. It makes your presentation feel and look pulled together and polished- even if it only took a few minutes to assemble! I love it on a kitchen countertop or a bar cart. I also think it is a beautiful addition to a bathroom vanity to boost your design. The tray is a perfect accessory- and I love the combination of the stripes and the ginger jar patterns!

7. Southern Lady Magazine

My mom began subscribing to Southern Lady magazine when the magazine first was published. I would tease her about it because my mom was (and still is) the epitome of a Southern Lady herself. It was as though they had created a magazine about her! When I would get the magazine out of the mailbox and bring it to her, I would use my best Southern drawl to let her know that her “Suthin Laydee” had arrived. Fast forward a few years and I was asking to “borrow” her Southern Lady magazines so much that mom decided it was time she sent my own to be delivered to my door. She gave me a subscription as a gift, I have loved it ever since!

Imagine how surprised and excited I was (and still am) when I opened the latest edition and found a photo that I had taken featured as part of a summer inspiration page. The photo is one that I took on Nantucket and it sums up this Southern girl’s summer fun in a quick click. I am grateful for the feature and so excited to be included in a fabulous publication like Southern Lady. The magazine is always an inspiration to me – I read it for the entertaining ideas, recipes, and business features that are always useful and gorgeous. Thank you, Southern Lady for the feature! I appreciate it so much!

And so, those are my loves for this week! I hope you have found something that you love, too. I would really enjoy hearing what you find helpful and useful- or if you have something you think I would love to know about, please share! We can help each other discover all of the fabulousness that is out there for us to enjoy! Have a great week!

XO,

Lydia

Refreshing Drinks for Summer

The summer heat always makes an ice cold drink taste so much better- and I want to share some ways to amp up your regular liquid refreshment. From mixing up an easy cocktail to getting creative with a glass of water, these drink ideas will put a little spark in your normal routine. Try one or try them all- and tell me below which one you think you will enjoy the most!

If you follow me on Instagram (and if you don’t, you can click here to follow!), you may have seen the live video that I did with my fun friend Ellen. Ellen and I created this drink for Mother’s Day and it turned out so great!! We were pretty impressed with ourselves with the finished product. Ellen figured out the proportions that we needed while I worked away at squeezing all of the lemons in the house!

As you can see from Ellen’s notes above, we started with 4 ingredients- but then decided to add a fifth ingredient. We added a lemon-flavored sparkling water to top it off. We really loved the flavor that the sparkling water added, but you may prefer it without. It is totally up to your preference, but I think it complements the flavors nicely and ties it all together! Ellen also wanted to use a flowery flavor and so she chose St. Germain to mix with lemon juice, a simple syrup, and vodka. It’s a perfect combo!

Ellen’s Elderberry Lemonade Cocktail

Makes 2 drinks

INGREDIENTS

8 oz. of fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 6-8 lemons)

2 oz. of Vodka (we used Tito’s)

2 oz. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

2 oz. Simple Syrup* (sugar and water)

Lemon-flavored Sparkling Water to top off

Shaker with ice

DIRECTIONS

*Make simple syrup (it really is simple!) by heating 1 cup water with 1 cup sugar and stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool before using in your drink.

Juice the lemons and pour the juice into cocktail shaker.

Add vodka, St. Germain, and simple syrup

Close shaker and shake.

Pour liquid into glasses filled with ice.

Top with desired amount of lemon sparkling water.

Garnish with lemon slice and a flower and enjoy!

INFUSED WATER

For another simple but delicious way to add a little oomph to your summertime drinks, try infusing water with some of your favorite fruits or veggies. There is a reason a spa always adds a little cucumber or lemon to the water that they make available- it is refreshing and healthy! I love this method for adding flavor to water while also adding nutrients!

For my family, I first tried 3 different variations in 3 different pitchers. These were our favorites in order of our favorites. 🙂

  1. Celery and Cucumber (adult favorite)
  2. Apple Grape (kid favorite)
  3. Kiwi Pear

To infuse water, all you have to do is chop the desired fruits and/or vegetables. Place the fruits and veggies in a pitcher of drinking water and let set for 2-8 hours. I usually make it at night and then it is fully infused in the morning.

After the water is infused, remove the fruits and veggies as they will have absorbed water and will not be so great to eat. My kids didn’t believe me and wanted to taste the water-logged fruit- they are believers now. 🙂 I did add freshly cut fruit and veggies to the glasses just before pouring to serve. A striped straw adds an extra fun touch and some extra color!

There are so many options of what to add to water to infuse it- from herbs to berries. I would love to hear some of your favorite choices! Leave me a comment and tell me what sounds good to you!

PITAYA SPARKLING WATER

Mmmmm…just typing that heading makes me wish for a glass of pitaya sparkling water right now! I have been so happy to discover pitaya powder to add to my drinks and recipes. The color is fabulous and all-natural- it kind of just makes you feel happy when you make it and drink it! This is truly as simple as it gets- and the return on time spent making this is almost foolproof- it always seems to be a hit! It is as easy as adding a pinch or a 1/4 teaspoon to a glass of sparkling water. Pitaya powder has a sweet flavor and so you can start there and add more as you like to discover just how much you like to add.

Another option is to make ice cubes using water with pitaya powder. Simply mix pitaya powder (1 teaspoon to start and add more if you like) in a small pitcher of water and stir well. Taste and add more pitaya powder if you would like. Pour the water mixture into ice cube trays and freeze. When the ice cubes are ready to be used, place them in a glass and pour sparkling water over the cubes and watch the color magic happen. Add a paper straw in a pretty design, and sip away!

What is pitaya powder you ask? And, where do you find it?

Pitaya is also known as dragonfruit. It has a bright pink natural color and is full of nutritional goodness. It is as healthy as it is beautiful! Pitaya is full of Vitamin C, Vitamin B proteins, fiber, and essential acids. It is known as a “super fruit” and helps with digestion, the immune system, and with metabolism. I buy mine at Suncore Foods. The ladies that run the company are wonderful to work with and really love what they do! If you would like more examples of how I use pitaya powder, I will share more soon.

I hope these ideas inspire you to perk up a plain drink or serve something creative and fun at your next get-together! I always love greeting guests with something fun to sip – and I enjoy making something special for my family on a regular night at home, too! Variety is definitely a spice of life and so I encourage you to spice it up with a simple tricks that turn ordinary into extraordinary! You know I love to hear what you think! Leave me a comment below and share any feedback or ideas that you have!

Happy Sipping!

xo,

Lydia

Lydia Loves

I am so excited to start this section of my website! Lydia Loves is intended to share products that I find that I think you will love! I hope you find it useful, and I would love to hear what you think! My intention is to share items in a range of needs/wants and price points. If you are ever trying to find “just the thing” and need help, let me know. I will do my best to help you find it! I hope this guide becomes a resource for everything from gift giving to everyday help around the house to celebrations and all things in between. Cheers to the very first edition of Lydia Loves…

  1. Pagoda Lanterns from PKL- The Cellar These make such a pretty statement on display in your home. I have a set and love them! They add so much to a coffee table, bookshelf, or bedside table.

2. Gorgeous (and Washable) Dog or Cat Beds from Taylor Beach Design

I am always looking for a good-looking dog bed (x 2) for our home, and I love what Taylor has designed! The covers zip off and can be washed which is also exactly what I need! Which one is your favorite pattern?

3. Chicken Pot Pie from Southern Baked Pie Company (they ship!)

This chicken pot pie is the best I’ve ever had! It serves at 8 people and can be stored in the freezer for when you need it! It is a saving grace on those weekends or weeknights when you don’t have time to shop and make anything. They also make great gifts!!

4. Cake Stand that Flips to a Chip & Dip Server by Prissy Plates

If you follow me on Instagram, you have seen this cake stand in use a lot! I love it for many reasons…I can use it as a cake stand or a crackers and dip serving piece. Also, the ribbons are interchangeable and so you can always update the look to make it suit the season or party. AND- the bow arrives tied for you!! I love that! There are many ribbon options on their site and you can choose the ones that best fit your likes!

5. The Makeup Eraser- I buy mine at Plain Jane in Athens, GA

So, I have to admit that I was skeptical when Jane of Plain Jane told me about The Makeup Eraser. And, then Jane gave me a sample to try and now I want to tell you guys about it! Lol!! The Makeup Eraser has been a game changer for me for removing eye make up. I no longer need to buy the expensive remover! This cloth is equal parts fantastic and perplexing- ha! I don’t know how to explain it, but I just know it works! I am planning on gifting it to all the ladies in my life at graduations and Mother’s Day! And, packing just got easier with one less liquid product to take along on trips!

6. Cute kitchen towels from Yum Yum Smile Shop

These kitchen towels definitely add a little fun to an ordinary everyday item! I love the oversized smile that Libbie Summers designed- she is known for making you smile with her humor and immensely creative mind! I think these make perfect unexpected hostess gifts and perfect gifts for graduates and moms! Perk up your kitchen!

So, what do you think? Would you like to have more items listed each time or is this about right? Please let me know if you check out any of these products! I would love to hear your feedback. Have a great weekend!!

XO,

Lydia

the Party Wagon Re-launch Celebration

Wow, you guys! This past week has been a whirlwind of fun and excitement as The Party Wagon officially re-launched! So much was going on in such a short amount of time, and I want to share as much of it as I can with you!! First of all, THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE!! It means so much to me to have you here, and I invite you to put your email in and subscribe! This will be the first time I have had an email list. The first time around, I relied on RSS feed only. But, one of the many things that I learned is that with an email list, we can stay connected no matter what turns Instagram/Facebook/Pinterest/Twitter take. With an email, we can be a team and can interact even more reliably! I want to share with you, and I encourage your feedback! It really wouldn’t be a party without YOU, and so I hope you will sign up for the newsletter to be delivered to your inbox each week! So let’s get this party started with a recap of the ReLaunch Parties!!

Logo Design by Joanna Baker

I was so thrilled to have my logo redesigned by illustrator Joanna Baker. Joanna was a delight to work with, and she captured the feel for what I was hoping to express with a new logo. To create the new look, I styled the cart, photographed it and then sent the photo to Joanna. Because my previous logo was a silhouette of my two children in a wagon- just like the wagon I used to pull them around in our backyard when they were little. I wanted to find a way to still use the sweet, original logo that held meaning for me…and so I asked Joanna to incorporate it as a cake topper on the cake on the bar cart (which I like to think of as my newest party wagon). A bar cart can be used in so many more ways than just for a bar, and I find myself pushing mine all round our house for different uses. It is definitely the most versatile party prop I own, and I highly recommend the bar carts from Society Social for style and function! And, as you can see below…I carried the logo and its colors throughout the party…

Cookies by Bambella Cookies. Styling and Photo by Lydia Menzies

I worked with Tara, from Bambella Cookies, to come up with a way to make cookies that represented my new logo and branding. Rather than make each cookie an exact version of the logo, Tara highlighted each aspect that was represented on the bar cart in the logo. I loved how they turned out and how they shared little pieces of what The Party Wagon is as a whole. From the actual bar cart itself, to the banner, the books, the blue and white vase with flowers, my favorite pink and white compote that I always fill with lemons, to the cake with my original logo as the topper, and the drinks and glasses with straw flags…she covered it all in the most beautiful collection of custom cookies!

The Party Wagon Cookies by Bambella Cookies

I love to fill our house with flowers, but I have to be careful because my son is allergic to several flowers. I have learned along the way which ones to avoid and which ones he can tolerate (he seems to have outgrown a complete flower ban)…and roses and hydrangeas seems to work just fine. I love to temper bright colors with a little bit of pastel or less-saturated color when I decorate, and so I made these arrangements with light pink roses and white hydrangeas.

I used my favorite cache pots from Chelsea House to display the flowers on our tables near the front door of the house. As much as I love flowers in a glass or clear vase, I also love the look of a beautiful decorative vase or pot- it definitely adds interest and depth to a flower arrangement. You can use a floral oasis inside the cache pots or, do like I did here, and drop a vase with water inside the pot and arrange the flowers that way.

To help celebrate the kick-off of the updated website, artist Hannah Betzel joined in on the party and did a live painting at the party. It was so much fun to watch her creative process in action as she started with the blank canvas and painted such a beautiful, lively, playful piece of art! Here she is as the painting is in progress…

Hannah is local to Athens and lives just a few blocks away from us, which made it easy and fun to have her drop in and showcase her talents at the party. I was so happy to have Hannah here! I feel like having an artist paint live adds energy and happiness to a celebration- it gives the artist the chance to share her work and talent with the community and it gives the guests a fun way to interact along with something interesting to watch and chat about. Everyone enjoys watching something come to life, and I was so honored to have Hannah here to celebrate the day!

Speaking of local favorites, I also wanted to highlight some of my favorite restaurants from our town by serving their food for lunch at the party. This also helped me be able to pull off hosting lunch in the afternoon and then hosting my daughter’s Supper Club that same night. Luckily, Athens is quite a foodie lovers town and is full of talented chefs with great restaurants. For this lunch, I served delicious sandwiches from Home.Made along with their famous Suwanee Bites and Pigs in a Blanket. I ordered salads from Maepole- my favorites being their White Bean Salad and the Snow Pea Salad. Plus, I couldn’t resist serving Maepole’s Hibiscus Lemonade along with mini champagne bottles that I got from Five Points Bottle Shop. Each guest was greeted at the door with a little champagne if they wished and then a host of other non-alcoholic options.

WELCOME banner by Loralee Lewis

For dessert, we all enjoyed cupcakes from our local Gigi’s Cupcake franchise and chocolate bunnies from Condor Chocolate- along with the cookies from Bambella Cookies. Oconee Printing Company made buffet signs telling what each dish was and from which local restaurant. We also had a fun giveaway drawing for gifts from some of my favorite local shops.

Because I was hosting Supper Club later that night, I had the table set and ready for the girls early in the day. The colors that we used on the tables were perfect for spring and for the flower theme that was the Supper Club theme this month. The vases also just happened to be the colors of my logo and are from Parker Kennedy Living- The Cellar. The owners, Lance and David, offered to share the vases with me for the party, and I loaded them with ranunculus from Trader Joe’s.

I wish I had taken more photos of the friends at the party, but I truly soaked up the fun in real life and didn’t take photos while the party was going on. I was so happy to have a chance to chat and visit with the friends who came, and I didn’t want to interrupt the enjoyment! It was such a fun day and it meant the world to me to have friends drop in and share in the excitement. As with any party, helping hands make it all run smoothly and I could not have done it without the help of my friends Lance, David, and Carrie and my favorite college helper, Kathryn. And, thank YOU for attending online with me! I am just so glad to be back to blogging and to be back with you all! Please leave comments below or send me a message telling me what you think of the new design! I was fortunate to have a lovely web designer, Nicely Built, migrate my old site and then design a new look while keeping all of the original content. There is still a lot to do as I share more with you, but I so appreciate that you are here!

Come back for more soon!

XO,

Lydia