8 Summer Picnic Must Haves!

Summer is in full swing here. Sun is out, well except the past few days. Like a lot of people, we spend a lot of time at the beach in the summer. Sometimes the hubby and I just grab some food and a bottle of wine and have a little romantic dinner to ourselves. Sometime’s it’s with everybody and their dog. We go so much that this year we’ve just left the major picnic gear in our car. Mainly because our storage locker a.k.a the “leaning tower of pisa” is a hazard to my safety and sanity. Seriously, last time I was in there, a suitcase fell on my head while I was holding up another suitcase with my head. Oh….to have a house.

I always have a list of stuff to bring when it’s the usual group. I make lists/spreadsheets for EVERYTHING. You should see my spreadsheets for when we’ve moved….. Or maybe you shouldn’t, you might think I’m a little nuts. Don’t judge.

So, here are 8 of my summer picnic must haves!

Paper & Birch - 8 Picnic Must-Haves www.paperandbirch1. Graphite Grey Turkish Cotton Beach Towel  // 2.  Coca-Cola 1940′s Replica Cooler // 3. Light Blue Chevron Plates // 4. How Does She Do It Beach Tote // 5. iHome Portable Bluetooth Stereo Speaker // 6. Monaco Red Beach Chair // 7. Poppytalk Charcoal Camp Stove // 8. Frankford Beach Umbrella

Oh, and speaking of awesome picnic stuff, have you seen the “Coolest Cooler” yet? I’m obsessed with this. Ryan Grepper had a goal of reaching $50,000 for his kickstarter campaign and at today’s mark, he’s now grossed $7,118,666. Yes that’s right SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS!! And he still has 35 days left on his campaign. My husband turns to me and says, “See sweetie, you just need to come up with an idea like that and then I can retire rich!”. That’s love people.


~Natalie  :-)

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Pomegranate Guacamole

Paper & Birch - Pomegranate Guacamole


First off I gotta know – are any of you watching Orange Is The New Black? I’m obsessed with that show. Last year when my husband was at his guy’s weekend and I wasn’t feeling well, I binge watched the entire first season. It’s that good. Of course when I found out that there was going to be a second season, I decided that the husband needed to watch it too. I mean for a guy, what’s not to like? The writers definitely knew how to get the guys on board with this show.

If you watch it, who’s your favourite character? Like most people, I think one of my favourite characters is Suzanne aka Crazy Eyes. She’s so much fun to watch. Uzo Adubo is an incredible actress. However, if you haven’t watched the show yet - stop what you’re doing, turn on netflix and watch it now. Seriously, getta move on. You’ll thank me for it later.

Ok, now back to the guacamole. We have guacamole a LOT. Most guacamole recipes seem to be different configurations of pretty much the same ingredients. It’s also one of the easiest and healthiest dips you can make. The ironic thing about guacamole is although I love guacamole – hate avocados. Seriously. Can’t stand ‘em. But you mix them with a few ingredients, bada boom bada bing and I love it. Weird, I know. My husband thinks so too. But he likes beets and I think that’s weird.

Pomegranate Guacamole

Total Time: 20 minutes

1 1/2 cups


  • 2 Avocados
  • 1 large jalapeño - seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion (approx 1/3cup), finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • A small handful of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate


  1. 1. Halve and pit the avocados. Scoop the flesh into a bowl.
  2. 2. Add the red onion, lemon & lime juice, jalapeño, cilantro and garlic. Mash with a fork.
  3. 3. Lightly mix in pomegranate.
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Have a great week everyone!

xo Natalie  :-D



3 Responses to “Pomegranate Guacamole”

  1. Never thought of using pomegranates in guacamole!! Genius!

  2. This is such a cool and unique dish! Wow :)

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Summer Reading List!

Some people that know me, know that I’m a little bit of a book hoarder. I’ll admit it, I ain’t ashamed. And no matter how many times I clean house and get rid of things, books are the one thing that I just can’t part with.

If you saw our apartment you would see books literally everywhere. No joke. I have tubs filled with them, they’re in crates, on shelves, in drawers, in closets and under the bed. My husband is always bugging me to get rid of them, but I call it my retirement investment. I’ll have soooo many books that when I’m old and wobbly, I won’t need to go the bookstore or the library (if there are any left!). I’ll have my own library.

I used to be able to start and finish a book within days. But the last couple of years I find that we’re so much busier. Plus, when we’re not, there is always so much “stuff” to get done. And thanks to Steve Jobs and his brilliant invention of that pesky iPhone thing, I spend way too much time “online”. So this summer, I’ve made a pact with myself to put the gadgets down and try to read every single day. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, it’s something. Plus, it’s nice to just turn off the noise for a bit. I may have to get my husband to hide my iPhone.

Here’s my summer reading list, which looking at it now, might take me a bit longer than summer to get through. Oh, and if you have any recommendations on any books, let me know in the comment section! There’s always room to stash a few more books. Just don’t tell my husband. ;)

Paper & Birch - Summer Read List www.paperandbirch.com
1. Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner City Funeral Home – Sheri Booker // 2. Entombed in Alcatraz – Robert Luke // 3. The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson // 4. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana – Gayle T. Lemmon // 5. A Heartbreakign Work of Staggering Genius – Dave Eggers // 6. I Feel Bad About My Neck – Nora Ephron // 7. One Moment, One Morning – Sarah Rayner // 8. A House in the Sky – Amanda Lindhout & Sara Corbett // 9. The Fault in Our Stars – John Green // 10. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson // 11. Take This Man – Brando Skyhorse // 12. My Mother Was Nuts – Penny Marshall

Happy Friday!

xo Natalie

Don’t forget to say hi and let me know you stopped by! :) :) 

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Salted Chocolate Chip Pecan Blondies


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This weekend was a rainy blur. All of my plans I had on Friday were thrown out the window by errands after errands. Also taking a cat (from a rescue group I volunteer with) to and from the vet so she could get spayed. And prepping for a party we were going to on Saturday. And still get some work done too. By 8 o’clock on Friday night, I was ready for bed. Oh yeah I know, nothin’ but a party animal here.

Since the weather hasn’t been so great here the past few days, it’s made it easier not being able to have some fun outside. So yesterday I decided to be a baking machine. I was originally going to make a batch of Raspberry Fudge Brownies for the party on Saturday - which is my usual go-to brownie recipe, but I thought I’d try something new this time.

First, I made two different batches of peanut butter fudge. Neither of them turned out as I wanted. The first was too moist. And the second one was a little too rich (not my words – nothing’s too rich for this gal!) I was trying to develop a recipe that was a little drier and not so rich. So, I’ll have to attempt that one again. If any of you have a go to butterscotch fudge recipe, please share it below!

Then I made these Salted Chocolate Chip Pecan Blondies.  Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!  When I brought them to the party and opened the container, they were gone in a flash. So, since I only got a bite of one…Of course I had to make another batch today. Rough life I know.

Salted Chocolate Chip Pecan Blondies

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 12


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, chopped
  • additional sea salt to top bars


  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x9 baking pan with non-stick foil (or use regular foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray).
  2. 2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. 3. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment combine the brown sugar and the melted butter. Add the egg and the vanilla, mixing until it's smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and the pecan pieces.
  4. 4. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Lightly sprinkle the bars with additional sea salt (approx 1/4 teaspoon). Bake in the preheated oven until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, approximately 20-25 minutes.


Once cool, store in an airtight container.

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Adapted from My Baking Addiction

Now, go make them. Run. No seriously – get goin’.

xo Natalie

Don’t forget to say hi in the comment section below! :) :) 

One Response to “Salted Chocolate Chip Pecan Blondies”

  1. belll121@msn.com'/ Lee says:

    yum these look delish! :)

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14 Cute Weekender Bags

Summer is my favourite time of the year. Well early summer when the temperature is perfect, and not too hot & humid.  The sun is out more, and stays out longer. It’s up a little earlier than I’d like though!

Then there’s vacations. So far this year we’ve gone on a couple little trips – San Francisco & Edmonton. The husband has his annual guy’s trip this summer and we’re going to try and get away for a couple of weekends here and there if we can. But our luggage is pathetic. Hanging on by threads. These are suitcases that I’ve had for over 10 years. They’ve moved me across the country and back. One rolls but the handle is broken. The other one’s handle’s fine, but doesn’t roll.  And we only have one sized suitcase – SUPER LARGE.

When we were in San Francisco, we had to buy towels to fill up our suitcase just so some things we bought didn’t break. And I usually over-pack with “just-in-case” items, so how that happened is flabbergasting! Either way these oversized suitcases aren’t cutting it anymore. So this year I’m definitely in the market for some more suitable luggage. When we were at either LAX or San Francisco Airport,  there was this girl who had a really cute weekender bag. It’s the perfect solution for those short trips, or as a carry-on bag.  So, I decided that our next luggage is going to be fun, not boring like our plain red or plain navy blue ones. Plus, do you know how many people have at airports have a large red suitcase? Exactly.



 Paper & Birch - 14 Cute Weekender Bags - Treillage Weekender www.paperandbirch.comTreilage Weekender – Anthropologie



Paper & Birch - 14 Cute Weekender Bags - Stella & Dot Elephant Print Weekender Bag www.paperandbirch.comOrange & Purple Elephant Print Weekender – Stella & Dot 



Paper & Birch - 14 Cute Weekender Bags - John D'Aponte Swiss Post Satchel www.paperandbirch.comSwiss Post Satchel – John D’Aponte



Paper & Birch - 14 Cute Weekender Bags - Mark & Graham Weekender Bag www.paperandbirch.comCanvas & Leather Weekender – Mark and Graham



Paper & Birch - 14 Cute Weekender Bags - Riviera Weekender Bag www.paperandbirch.comRiviera Weekender Bag – Accessorize.com



Paper & Birch - 14 Cute Weekender Bags - Banana Republic Stella Canvas Weekender www.paperandbirch.comStella Canvas Weekender – Banana Republic



Paper & Birch - 14 Cute Weekender Bags - Free People Distressed Leather Weekender www.paperandbirch.com.jpgDistressed Leather Weekender – Free People



Paper & Birch - 14 Cute Weekender Bags - Deux Lux Blue Baha Weekender www.paperandbirch.comBaha Weekender – Deux Lux



Paper & Birch - 14 Cute Weekender Bags - Calvin Klein Signature Weekender www.paperandbirch.comSignature Weekender – Calvin Klein



Paper & Birch - 14 Cute Weekender Bags - J.Crew Rail & Wharf 48 Hour Duffel Bag www.paperandbirch.comRail & Wharf Duffel Bag – J. Crew



Paper & Birch - 14 Cute Weekender Bags - Billykirk No. 166 Carryall Ash Waxed www.paperandbirch.comNo. 166 Carryall Bag – Billykirk



Paper & Birch - 14 Cute Weekender Bags - Banana Republic Ines Weekender www.paperandbirch.comInes Weekender – Banana Republic



Paper & Birch - 14 Cute Weekender Bags - The Catalina Canvas Tote & Weekender www.paperandbirch.comThe Catalina – Lo & Sons



Paper & Birch - 14 Cute Weekender Bags - Lindock (Etsy) Recycled Military Canvas Recycled Weekender Bag www.paperandbirch.comRecycled Military Canvas Weekender Bag – Lindock (Etsy)



xo Natalie

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