DIY Backyard Movie Night

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Add this to your 2018 Summer Bucket List stat: Backyard Movie Night. It's so much easier than it seems - all you need are a few key items and you're well on your way to popcorn under the stars. P.S. Any movie would've been extra charming in this setting, but "oldies" are especially fun on an outdoor screen.

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#1 - Homemade Movie Screen
If you own a white sheet or white shower curtain liner, you're already halfway there! I hung a clothesline between two trees in our backyard, and clipped a king size white sheet to the line. Things got a little breezy, so I tethered the bottom with two more clothespins, two wooden stakes, and a little twine. I wouldn't recommend keeping it up for days at a time, especially if you live in windy Kansas, but if you leave the line tied up, it's easy to re-clip the sheet again another night. I've set up two clotheslines for future movie nights - one on our covered deck (literally for a rainy day!) and one in the backyard!

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#2 - Projector
We used the CINEMOOD for our movie projector, and it was the perfect tool for the job. I downloaded the movie from Amazon Prime right to the device, so we didn't have to deal with buffering, wifi connections, etc. The graphics were awesome, and the sound was also plenty loud enough. It was really nice not to have to deal with cords, as well! I'm so obsessed with it, and am basically planning on using it for outdoor movie nights until the first snowfall in Kansas ;) 

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#3 - Snacks!
I mean, obviously, snacks are a huge part of any movie night's success. I splurged on some retro-looking soda bottles, and made individual snack containers - mason jars for candy and craft bags for popcorn. B loved having her own little bag for popcorn! Another fun idea is to get everyone's favorite boxed candy just like at the theater. Most local pharmacies carry boxes of Mike & Ikes, Reese's Pieces, etc.

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#4 - Cozy Seating
The easiest way to make this happen? Use what you got! I use a little of everything we had from throw pillows to plastic outdoor chairs to quilts. Obviously, don't use anything that can't get a little dirt on it, but if it's cozy and durable, it's a winner. For cooler nights in the Fall, bring a few extra quilts and blankets to stay warm under. (I linked a few throws at the end of the post that I use outside - they're a little more durable, but so cozy!)

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Lastly, make sure you utilize the bug spray, and light a few citronella candles! I'm dying to do this again for a girl's night or date night. Just swap out candy and popcorn for wine and pizza, and you've got yourself another Summer Bucket List item to do! 

B's Jammies: Bow & Ivory
Letterboard: Felt Like Sharing
Pillows: Homemade by me! Similar here - Stitched by Grace
Quilts & wooden boxes: Vintage finds
Outdoor throws: Pink/Mint Falsa + Blue Herringbone
Projector: CINEMOOD

CINEMOOD was gifted to me for an honest review. Affiliate links are included in this post.

Baked Chicken Meatballs

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I'm always looking for something that freezes well, that B likes, and fits within our healthier attempts at family dinners. Chicken meatballs are a winner in all three of those categories! These are also really yummy with ground turkey, and I love that they're baked instead of fried. You can also sneak in a little spinach when you blend the onion, egg, etc. for an added green factor! 

Ingredients:

1/2 breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic
1/4 onion
1 egg
1 lb chicken sausage
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil

Instructions:

Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray with a light layer of cooking non-stick spray. Pre-heat oven to 400*.

In a blender, "chop" onion, egg, garlic, and cheese until it reaches a finely minced consistency. In a mixing bowl combine breadcrumbs with salt, pepper, and spices. Add in blender mixture and chicken sausage. Mix with your hands until completely combined.

Make 1-1.5” sized meatballs and place on baking sheet. Bake at 400* for 20 min.

Serve over pasta - we love it with penne pasta and vodka sauce, but it would also be great with marinara and veggie noodles (zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash)!

All About Mali

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It's about time our first child had her own post! Mali (sounds like "Molly") is our fur baby, and fancies her role in the family as the Nana dog of the Darling children in Peter Pan. In reality, she's more like a sibling to B since they get into quite a bit of trouble together ;). 

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We got Mali the morning after we came home from our honeymoon! We committed to getting her before we left for the wedding in Sonoma, but didn't get to bring her home until after our trip. We named her after the placed we stayed in Fiji, and changed the spelling a little to help with confusion of pronunciation (although we still get a lot of questions about her name - I'm just laughing now and glad we did this weird name spelling thing to a dog and not a human!)

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The number one question we get is "What kind of dog is she?" Mali is a Goldendoodle! She's a second generation Goldendoodle, actually. She sheds like crazy, has the nose and legs of a Poodle, and the goofy, sweet personality of a Golden Retriever. She's insanely smart, and was essentially potty trained when we brought her home (thanks to her breeders who had her a week and a half longer than normal thanks to our honeymoon!) 

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A few other funny facts about Mali:

  • She's a big, big dog. Not only is she tall, thanks to her Poodle legs, but she's also 70 lbs.
  • Mali is our living vacuum cleaner. I rely on her way too often to help clear the floor after mealtimes - also the reason for those new 5 lbs at the last vet visit.
  • Mali will bark at anyone who walks by the house, so we've gotten in the habit of putting her "to bed" before nap to avoid any barking episodes while I'm putting B down. B loves to tuck Mali in to her bed in our room every afternoon, kisses and all.

Below are some of our favorite Mali things, including a fancy bandana! Also, totally recommend the Chuckit! launcher for avoiding slobber hands when playing fetch with your own pup.

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