Backyard Barbecue | Perpetually Chic for Channeling Contessa

Ahhh, summer. That season of abundant sunshine, meals prepared on the grill, and weekend evenings sitting outdoors watching the sun set. It’s simply my favorite…isn’t it yours? Lauren here, and with summer barbecue season kicking into high gear, I thought I’d drop in to show you how to dress the part. A backyard barbecue is inherently a casual affair—invite friends over, grill up some delicious food, play a few lawn games while you wait, and hang around outside until the sun goes down. But casual doesn’t mean short on style!

Backyard Barbecue | Perpetually Chic for Channeling Contessa

Casual does mean comfortable, which is why I lean toward sundresses or shorts paired with cute tops. You can’t go wrong with a goes-with-anything pair of white shorts, and I love the floral pattern of this boxy Madewell tee. Gosh, the last time I had a pair of white sandals, I must’ve been in preschool. In fact, that pair had straps across the toes and around the ankles just like my grown-up version! I love that these have a little block heel for some height, yet still strike that casual summer feel (and won’t get stuck in the grass).

Backyard Barbecue | Perpetually Chic for Channeling Contessa

Backyard Barbecue | Perpetually Chic for Channeling Contessa

Burgers and BBQ are great for backyard get-togethers, but I honestly start to get a little bit sick of those old standbys. That’s where grilled pizzas come in! From this Peach & Gorgonzola Chicken Pizza to the Smoked Chicken Pizza with Poblano Pepper Sauce we made this past weekend, I love getting creative with the toppings. Another favorite: pesto with shrimp, feta and pine nuts. Serve up a few options on cutting boards, and let guests try different slices. Another approach is to make personal-sized pizzas, and let each guest choose from various toppings.

Backyard Barbecue | Perpetually Chic for Channeling Contessa Backyard Barbecue | Perpetually Chic for Channeling Contessa

This tee has a bonus—a peekaboo back to let in the breeze.

Backyard Barbecue | Perpetually Chic for Channeling Contessa

For dessert? Keep it simple and grill fresh peaches and plums, sprinkle with a little cinnamon and brown sugar, and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The perfect ending to a stress-free night!

Get the Look: Madewell top and shorts, Loeffler Randall sandals (on sale here and here!), Ray-Ban sunglasses

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What comes to mind when you think of summer essentials? I think of sunglasses, a great pair of flat brown leather sandals, and maybe a pair of distressed jeans. (See also: the perfectly accessorized ice cream cone.) However, I’ve recently realized that I need to add a versatile white dress to that list. They make for the perfect day-to-night outfit, and can be as dressy or as casual as you like.

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I went shopping over Memorial Day weekend, and found this lovely number. It happily came home with me after I realized it was on sale. It’s since sold out, unfortunately, but as soon as I tried it on, I knew it was a piece my closet was missing. For a more casual option — which I would likely live in — I’ll be adding that Emerson Fry t-shirt dress to my wish list! It’s perfection.

Channeling Contessa dress

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Inspiration: 1, 2, 3, 4

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Flats. They are one hundred percent my thing. Sometimes I have visions of myself rocking a great pair of heels but it’s totally just… a vision. I like a wedge here or there but when you’re 5′ 9″, I much prefer a flat. And I pretty much want every single one J.Crew has right now. How gorgeous are these guys? I’ve currently got a rewards card burning a hole in my pocket and it’s no doubt going to number four, though I have a sneaking suspicion number five… and one… ok and maybe six is going to make its way into my cart, too! Which ones are you guys loving? Any other must have flats?

Like many of you, I just can’t get enough of summer tomatoes. Luckily enough, they like to stick around for a while. I get so excited when I first see them early in the season, that I only eat them raw. A sliced tomato is close to perfection, after all. Now that it’s getting cooler though, I love to start cooking with them. This Three Cheese Tomato Tart is definitely on my list. I love the idea of an end-of-summer meal celebrating my favorite summer vegetable, and the hardest part about planning a menu will be narrowing down the dishes! What is your favorite thing to do with tomatoes?

1. chair, 2. dish, 3. olive oil bottle, 4. tomato knife, 5. board

Image Credits: table, silverware, tart, tomatoes

Before I left for the beach, I was feeling really guilty for taking a vacation. I felt like there was work on my business that I should have already completed, and that I really didn’t deserve the time away. But at the same time, I was also feeling pretty meh about work. I wasn’t  as clear about the direction of things or what I wanted, and the thought of figuring it all out just made me want to take a big nap.

But we’d booked a house and had to go. And I mean, I was excited. I wasn’t exactly kicking and screaming at the thought of spending the week at the beach. Once we were there, my thoughts about work started to subside, but I couldn’t shake this feeling that there was something I was supposed to be doing.

One day, after only a day or two away, I noticed something. I was picking up ice cream for my mom and I, and as we sat in the car eating I was overcome with this wave of anxiety. It was so intense- I could feel a lump forming in my throat and knots in my stomach. I had no idea where it was coming from. I ran through my laundry list of concerns. Work, clients, deadlines, bills, blog- everything was in check. Ok…but the feeling didn’t fade. Was it something in my personal life? This was getting ridiculous. I was healthy, had a loving and healthy family, was in a wonderful relationship, lived in a beautiful apartment…. what was I so anxious about?

Nothing. There was nothing to be anxious about. But I was unconsciously telling myself there was- and I was doing it all the time. I was operating in this constant state of feeling like I was either forgetting something or never doing enough. My inner monologue was something along the lines “You chose to work for yourself, therefore there is always something to do. You should be working all the time to make sure your business is successful- otherwise, you’ll fail.” Yikes. Really?

Once I realized what I was thinking I became kind of enraged. Why was I doing that to myself? What a waste of energy! Talk about unproductive! Then two key thoughts popped into my head: 1) If I was feeling this way on vacation, what havoc was this mental habit reeking on my everyday life? and 2) Everything I was feeling felt like a backwards way for punishing myself- like I wasn’t allowed to have any fun or go away until my business had succeeded. But what did that even mean? I’d set goals and accomplished them. I’d experienced success, but I never really gave myself credit for it. The whole thing had my mind spinning. I didn’t really have a solution but I knew I had to kick this negative habit.

That experience alone allowed me to pretty much shut my mind off completely about work for the rest of the trip. My mind lingered over ways to make improvements or changes to stop these negative feelings, but I didn’t want to dwell on it too much. I wanted to figure it out when I got back after my head had a chance to clear.

So that’s what I did. And boy did the time away make the changes I needed to implement clear as day. I’ll be sharing what I realized and what I’m changing next week. In the mean time, have you ever caught yourself in a negative thought cycle? If so, how’d you get yourself out of it? I’d love to hear any tips you have!

Ps: I’ve put all the Cape photos and photos from our Rooftop Dinner Party in albums on the CC Facebook- makes them super easy to browse!