Celebrate with Lavender Lemonade & Florals

Summer entertaining ideas that are as pretty as a pitcher of ice cold lemonade.

romantic homes lavander lemonade recipe
A silver tray and a crystal pitcher mingle in this table setting with mason jar tumblers and a vintage hand-made yo-yo table tablecloth for a country-chic blend of high and low.

With the temperature rising and gardens coming to life, the summer sunshine beckons us to come outdoors.

Quality time with family and friends moves from the living room to the backyard for barbecues, water balloon fights and all manner of outdoor fun that can only be had in the warmer months.

An icy drink is essential to beat the heat and stay cool while enjoying the weather and what better way to hydrate than a glass of fresh made lemonade?

Here’s a recipe for a lemonade with a pretty floral twist, plus three ideas for decorating with flowers as you prepare to entertain this summer!

Sourced from: The Cookie Rookie




  • 6 cups water, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 Tbsp dried lavender
  • 2 cups lemon juice
  • Lemon slices and lavender sprigs for garnish
  • Blue or purple food coloring (optional)


  1. Over medium heat, combine two cups of water and sugar, bringing to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Turn off of the heat and stir in agave nectar and lavender.
  2. Allow mixture to steep for 2 hours (less if you want less of a lavender taste). Strain the liquid, pressing the lavender down to make sure you get all of those juices into your mixture!
  3. In a large pitcher, combine freshly squeezed lemon juice, lavender mixture and water.
  4. Feel free to add a couple drops of blue or purple food coloring if you want more color than the lavender provides. Serve over ice.

Now that you’ve made a pretty beverage for your guests, read on to learn how to create an inviting setting to go along with it.

romantic homes lavender lemonade floral napkins

Decorate napkins with twine and flowers

Give your table a rustic look using twine to wrap napkins and small sprigs of fresh flowers.

Twine like this can be found at craft stores while the flowers can be gathered from the wild, your own garden or picked up at the grocery store.

For extra floral flair, create a small bouquet to adorn the back of each chair.

romantic homes lavender lemonade edible flowers

Use edible flowers to garnish sweets

Make your favorite sweet treats or simply grab pre-made baked goodies from your local grocery store.

Most grocers have some selection of edible flowers in stock, but for a wider variety, check health food or speciality stores like Whole Foods, or order from online retailers such as Gourmet Sweet Botanicals.


romantic homes lavender lemonade tablescape centerpiecen sunflower

Tie it all together with a grand sunflower centerpiece

Sunflowers are at their peak in beauty during summer and every table needs an eye-catching centerpiece to anchor the look.

Place your sunflowers in a pretty pitcher to accent the rustic feel created by the napkin holders and flowers.

If it’s just too hot outside, the party can be easily relocated indoors.






Icy, Creamy, Healthy, Sweet

Your ultimate guide to healthy frozen treats.

Last week, we posted a couple ice cream recipes to help you beat the summer heat. We’ve got a few more icy treats for you today, from Christine Chitnis’ new book, Icy, Creamy, Healthy, Sweet. Not only are Christine’s recipes delicious and refreshing, but they use healthy ingredients too. “What I’ve found is that there’s simply no reason that desserts cannot be healthy and nutritious,” she writes. “Once you begin playing in the kitchen, experimenting with making sweets that are as healthy as they are delicious, there is no limit to where your creativity can take you.”

Here are a couple for you to try.

Frozen Yogurt Bark

Makes 10–15 pieces of bark

Icy, Creamy, Healthy Sweet: Frozen Yogurt Bark
Yogurt and berries make this bark a healthy treat for keeping cool

This bark is a take on traditional chocolate bark, and it works perfectly as a fun-size frozen treat. The yogurt base is simple—plain whole milk yogurt sweetened with a bit of honey and a dash of vanilla extract—and from there this recipe is open for experimentation.

You can simply throw in a couple cups of berries or chopped peaches, or you can get fancy, combining fruits, even adding nuts, chocolate chips, or seeds for crunch. Just be sure the mixture is spreadable—that’s the key!


  •  2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fruit of your choice (such as blueberries, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, chopped peaches)


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, honey, vanilla, and salt.
  2. If the fruit you’re using is large and has pits or stems (such as strawberries, cherries, or peaches), prepare the fruit by pitting/hulling/peeling and roughly chopping it. Raspberries and blueberries can be used whole. Gently stir the fruit into the yogurt mixture until just combined.
  3. Pour the yogurt onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using a spatula to spread it out smoothly and evenly. Give the fruit a bit of a press with the spatula to even out the surface. Freeze the baking sheet overnight and, when ready to serve, cut or break the sheet of yogurt into pieces. Store the yogurt bark in a lidded freezer-safe glass container with the layers of bark separated by parchment paper in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Icy, Creamy, Healthy Sweet: Green Monster Pops

Green Monster Pops

Makes 10 pops

When it comes to getting my daily greens, I’ll try just about anything. While I love big, crunchy, straight-from-the-garden salads, I also love blending my greens into smoothies. Sweet, creamy, and refreshing, it only makes sense that a blended green smoothie would work perfectly in pop form. Feel free to experiment with the greens: I prefer spinach because the taste is very subtle, but Swiss chard and kale also work well, though their flavors are a bit more distinct. I love the sweetness of freshly made pineapple juice, though you can feel free to substitute ready-made juice. If you’re serving these to kids, play up the cool green color, and before long, they’ll be slurping up their daily serving of health-infusing greens!


  • 1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored, and chopped (or substitute 1 cup pineapple juice)
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup peeled, cored, and chopped mango
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk (from one 13.5-ounce can)
  • 11/2 cups baby spinach


  1. Put the roughly chopped pineapple chunks through a juicer. Measure 1 cup of pineapple juice (or use store-bought pineapple juice) and add it to a blender with the bananas, mango, coconut milk, and baby spinach. Blend until smooth.
  2. Carefully pour the smoothie mix into pop molds, insert sticks, and freeze for at least 3 to 4 hours, until hardened.

Icy, Creamy, Healthy Sweet

Icy, Creamy, Healthy, Sweet by Christine Chitnis, Published by Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc., © 2016; www.roostbooks.com.

Tips to Heat Up Your Elegant Summer Dining

Bring the party outside and enjoy the season. Here's how to create a little elegance outdoors.


Weather permitting, elegance can be accomplished no matter the surroundings. On the patio or in that curious little corner of the backyard, you can create an entertaining space fit for family, friends or simply enjoying coffee amongst the critters. There is always a way to make it pretty. Roll up your sleeves. Here comes your inspiration.


Select an easily accessible and safe location. Summer brings a plethora of insects to your backyard, which must be managed for any outdoor gathering. You don’t want to be known for sending your guests away with mosquito-bite-filled ankles as parting gifts. Surround your space with citronella candles or torches. Individualized insect-control options are available.





Every set of outdoor furniture needs a clean and pretty canvas to get the party started. Choose a basic white, colored or print tablecloth; and don’t be afraid to layer one on top of the other. Welcome a little more elegance into the space by using cloth napkins and decorative rings. Yes, you and your guests are worth bringing out the good stuff.





You don’t have to be a prize-winning table-setter to create an elegant setting. Colored glass dishes are a great choice, especially if you have a beautiful tablecloth underneath. This provides a fun peek-a-boo at every glance. Choose coffee cups that fit your décor, and size should be considered if space is limited. Shining and placing your utensils provides the final balance to your arrangement.





Keep in mind that your food will be exposed to the elements, which may melt your perfect butter sculpture or crumble the moistest baked items. Setting your butter plate in a bowl of ice will sustain a proper temperature. Serve your food in covered containers when possible to ensure freshness throughout your event. Urging others to take seconds, quickly, will eliminate any concerns you have about optimal culinary conditions. Pour beverages with prestige straight from the bottle, or use a sterling coffee carafe or water pitcher. Feel free to clip a few flowers from around the yard for your centerpiece. This will meld your special area with the beautiful surroundings.





The intent of creating an outdoor entertaining space is to enjoy your natural surrounds with friends and loved ones. Whether you desire a relaxing, romantic vibe or a more ruckus affair, the time you spend and the care you take to make things pretty will be time well spent. You deserve to experience summer at its best. So get outside, find your special spot and get busy.





Garden in Miniature

Bring the romance outside with miniature fairies and charming vintage finds.

A romantic garden usually contains roses, beds of wildflowers and a shady place to sit. But what if you added an unexpected surprise with tiny vintage gardens for fairies? Visitors will be delighted, and you’ll be able to use your garden as another canvas to feature beautiful antiques. Here’s how to do it.

Find the right piece.

Almost any vintage item you find at a flea market or estate sale can become a garden container. From a wood hutch or old animal trough to a chipped teapot or gilded frame, add vintage items that are large or small to your garden. Just make sure the piece has enough room for soil and plant roots. Even an item as small as a teacup can transform into a miniature garden if you don’t crowd it with too many plants.

Prep your piece.

Before you add plants to your container, make sure it’s ready for outdoor weather. For wood or painted pieces, add a protective stain or spray to prevent fading and rot. Metal pieces may gain a little rust, but this will only add charm to the piece. You’ll also need to waterproof the container, so line it with plastic or a rubber waterproofing material. You won’t want your antique wood crate to rot when you water the strawberries you’ve planted inside.

Bring the romance outside with miniature fairies and charming vintage finds.

Plant the flowers.

First, make sure the piece has good drainage. If it doesn’t, or the drainage would cause rot, place a layer of pebbles or pea gravel before you add soil. The rocks will act as a water filter and keep the water from sitting in the soil too long, which can damage the plants. Then add your soil and flowers.

Create a sanctuary for fairies.

Tiny creatures need small spaces with miniature accessories. Plant a low ground cover to act as a grassy meadow or lawn; then add small plants and flowers. Finish it off with the accents. Decorate with a fairy-sized table and chair set, or a bench on which the fairies can relax. Don’t forget to add the fairies too!


Grow Your Own Bouquet

Learn how to keep your home filled with fresh flowers without spending a fortune.


Learn how to grow your own bouquets with a cutting garden.

A bouquet of fresh flowers can do so much to brighten up your home. The scent, the bright colors and the reminder of the world outside will add a breath of fresh air to the room. The downside of fresh bouquets is the cost—the flowers will last for about a week (if you’re lucky), and if you want to keep fresh flowers in your home on a regular basis, the costs will add up to a pretty penny.

Luckily, there’s a solution—grow your own bouquets! “You can fill your house with flowers without spending a fortune,” writes Alex Mitchell in her new book, Gardening on a Shoestring. The book is a helpful gardening resource full of tips and tricks for making the most of your outdoor space without breaking the bank. Here are her instructions for how to create a cutting garden in your own backyard.

Learn how to grow your own bouquets with a cutting garden.

What You’ll Need:

  • An area of ground 6 x 9 feet, cleared of weeds and stones and raked into a fine tilth
  • Tape measure
  • Garden twine
  • Twigs or sticks
  • Scissors
  • 6 packets of seed: Bupleurum griffithli, Rudbeckia hirta ‘Marmalade,’ Cosmos ‘Sensation Mix,’ Cornflower ‘Blue Ball,’ Ammi majus, Agrostemma githago (Corncockle), or seeds suited to your planting region
  • Rake
  • Watering can with rose attachment/garden hose

When To Start:

Mid- to late spring

How to Do it:

Divide your growing area into six equal squares, staking out the grid with twine tied to sticks pushed into the soil. Then sow each square with a different variety of seed. Rake over the soil gently to cover the seeds and water well. Keep the patch weeded and protect the young shoots from slugs until established. Sowing each variety of seed in a different square makes harvesting and weeding easier.

Learn how to grow your own bouquets with a cutting garden.


Cut the flowers throughout the spring and summer to keep the plants blooming!

Learn how to garden without breaking the bank.

Gardening on a Shoestring by Alex Mitchel, published by Quarto, © 2016; quartoknows.com.

Message in a Bouquet

Instead of a text, give your loved one a bouquet of flowers to show them you care. Here are the meanings behind popular flowers to help you form your bouquets.

Flowers aren’t just beautiful—they can also send a message. “In the Victorian era and even long before that, flowers served as beautiful messengers that whispered what often could not be spoken aloud,” write Leigh Okies and Lisa McGuinness in their new book, Meaningful Bouquets. From anticipation and affection to forgiveness and friendship, a bouquet of flowers can help you speak to a family member or friend in a new way. “[In the Victorian era], they were the equivalent of clandestine text messages or notes of encouragement,” the authors write. Here are a few flower meanings and how you can combine them to create a beautiful message.


Use traditional Victorian flower meanings to convey a message.


“When you want to commemorate an occasion or a special person, this combination of flowers comes together for a memorable impression,” the authors write. The bouquet doesn’t have to be large—combine the flowers in a vintage coffee or food can for extra effect. Whether the occasion is a birthday, holiday or anniversary, here are some of the flowers you can include and the meaning they convey:

  • Pink carnations: I will never forget you
  • Rosemary: Remembrance
  • Oak leaf hydrangea: Calm
  • Forget me nots: Remembrance
  • Bluebell: Constancy


Use bouquets of flowers to convey meaning.

Crush on You

This bouquet can go to a significant other or another person you admire, such as your mom on Mother’s Day. “This arrangement is a lovely way to express your feelings for someone you find fascinating,” the authors write. “Give it to your crush or a friend to let them know they’ve been on your mind.” Include a “Thinking of You” card to tell them the meanings of the flowers in the bouquet:

  • Orange roses and rosebuds: Fascination
  • Maidenhair fern: Secrecy
  • Rose hips: Love
  • Daffodil: Admiration
  • Honeysuckle: Devotion


Use bouquets of flowers to convey meaning.


Sometimes it’s difficult to know how to give comfort to a friend or loved one when they’re having a hard time. A bouquet of flowers with their Victorian meanings is a steady reassurance of love and support. “Giving comfort and sympathy to others requires sensitivity and quiet reassurances,” the authors write. Here are a few flowers you can use to support others:

  • Scarlet geranium leaves: Sympathy
  • Dahlias: Dignity
  • Glove amaranth: Unchangeable
  • Peony: Bravery
  • Goldenrod: Encouragement

For more ideas, including bouquets for celebration, luck and passionate love, get a copy of Meaningful Bouquets here.

Meaningful Bouquets

Meaningful Bouquets by Leslie Jonath and Lisa McGuinnes, photography by Annabelle Breakey, published by Chronicle Books, © 2016; chroniclebooks.com.

Throw a Literary-Themed Garden Party

Inspired by the scents and sights of old pages, this erudite event pays homage to the romanticism of the famed French novels of the 19th century and beyond.

Book Pages Table Runner
Use pages from no-longer-needed paperback books to create a table runner. You can embellished it further by painting the pages with fun-colored craft paints, or hot-gluing on faux petals for a formal teatime party.

It’s time for a gathering of girlfriends who enjoy the simple pleasures of reading a great book and having good conversation. Inspired by the scents and sights of old pages, this erudite event pays homage to the romanticism of the famed French novels of the 19th century and beyond.

Set the tone with an easy-to-create table runner fashioned from the pages of no-longer-needed paperback books. The covers were removed and the books were soaked in a tub filled with coffee until the pages were stained. The books were laid out in the sun to dry, and then the pages were carefully torn out and hot-glued by the corners in random fashion to create the long table runner.

Vintage Books
A simple pairing of vintage books and fresh-cut flowers make for a charming centerpiece.

A lush and breezy bouquet of pink roses and softly muted greenery brightens up the table and adds an almost sculptural beauty. At the end of the party, the hostess will dismantle the flower arrangement and each guest will receive a jar to fill and bring home as a memento of the day.

Literary Soiree Buffet Table
Preparing all of the food ahead of time and setting the table in advance of guests arriving allows plenty of talk time!

The French theme carries through to the food, set out buffet style for guests to serve themselves. French Limoges china with a delicate pattern of roses is party perfect and lends itself to accessorizing with antique glassware, vintage monogrammed napkins and silver flatware.

Croque Madame Sandwich
Made from brioche, Gruyere and ham, and topped with a fried egg, Croque Madame sandwiches are a quintessentially French touch to add to your menu.

For the main course, simple bistro fare includes homemade Croque Madame sandwiches that are filling and easy to make. Pâtisserie including macarons and madeleines have been set out on charming plates atop boxes from trips to an iconic French pastry shop in Paris.


Beach Picnic

A beach picnic can be more than sunblock and surfboards with some inspiration from the past.

Beach Picnic

An old-fashioned beach picnic is once again in vogue. Take a page from history and create a day you will remember forever. When life coasted at a slower pace, such outings were more commonplace. Make a beach picnic as romantic as you would when entertaining at home.

Beach Picnic Table

Here’s to flowing sundresses, large-brimmed straw hats, wet sandy toes, fresh flowers, seashells and sweets at your beach picnic.

Beach Picnic Table Decor

Be Inspired

Start with something vintage as an inspiration piece; we used beach-themed postcards that have an old-fashioned sensibility and set our color theme for our beach picnic.

Fresh flowers

Make a Checklist for Your Beach Picnic

  • Baskets for collecting shells
  • Books
  • Fresh flowers
  • Lanterns and candles
  • Mason jars
  • Painting, coloring or writing supplies and journal
  • Quilts
  • Treats, fruit and lemonade
  • Umbrella
  • Vintage plates, cups and flatware
  • Wagon for toting items

Beach Picnic

Vintage pails and a camera are thoughtful touches for a beach picnic. A flower frog moonlights as a pencil holder, encouraging guests to draw and write. Hunting for seashells is also encouraged with a tin basket and paper umbrellas.

Fourth of July Treats

Be inspired by Fourth of July treats and the colors of the American flag.

Fourth of July Treats

It is a day to celebrate American style. The Fourth of July is a holiday built around nostalgia, and traditions reign. There will always be red, white and blue; parades; fireflies caught in jars and the tastes of summer. We put a sweet spin on our celebration by creating Fourth of July treats: cupcakes donned with sparkly sugars in patriotic colors and star-shaped shortcakes livened up with fresh cream and berries.

For the setting, contributing editor Diane Sedo favors ruby glass on the table, which works with her Wilendur red rose tablecloth. The yard is fully mature by now, so green grass sets off the bright colors perfectly, and nothing says Independence Day better than buntings tied to a white picket fence. The scene beckons golden-haired dogs being chased by children in paper pirate hats.

 Star Shortcake

Star Shortcake

Makes 6

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cold
3/4 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.
3. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
4. Stir in the milk with a fork until the mixture forms a ball.
5. Knead dough several times on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Roll out the dough to about 1/2-inch thickness and cut with a 3-inch star cutter.
6. Place on ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with additional sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

For the fruit filling: 1 cup blueberries and/or 1 cup raspberries mixed with 1 tablespoon sugar.

To assemble: Cut the slightly cooled shortcakes in half. Place some fresh cream (or whipped topping) on the bottom half of the shortcake. Add 1/3 cup of the fruit. Top with remaining shortcake. Garnish with a dollop of cream and fruit.

Holiday cards flowers and ephemera
Holiday cards, flowers and ephemera from the past are elements that add style to the table setting.