Porch Swings and Sunshine

by Mindy Lockard on July 28, 2014

Over the weekend at an annual family event my sweet niece, Kait, asked me to take her on an adventure to “Starbucks” or “walk in the sand” while neither was possible in that moment, we did find a porch swing and a cookie to share.

Sometimes life seems too busy or we reserve adventures for vacations or holidays. But there are adventures in our everyday. Adventures that don’t cost a dime or require travel. These adventures are more of a mindset about hitting the pause button on life, letting the breeze hit our faces and even sing a little tune with one of the cutest two-year-olds we know.

Here’s to sharing adventures and making memories, even from your own front porch!


One of our favorite ways to bring our friends to the table in the summertime is with a southern inspired shrimp boil!

Warm up those fingers its time to dig in... just don't lick them.

Warm up those fingers its time to dig in… just don’t lick them.

Sometimes when we entertain it’s easy to get caught up in the idea, the menu and the decor. But the heart of entertaining is about people first. Bringing them together. Giving them an experience and then of course serving great food. And this boil does just that!

Shopping list (quantity is determined by the number of your guests)

  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Sea Salt
  • 6 onions quartered
  • 1 dozen lemons (8 halved / 4 quartered)
  • Shrimp
  • Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Andouille Sausage
  • Artichokes (steamed on the stove and added at the table)
  • Butter warmers
  • Warm white towels

Step by Step

Start with a Bayou Classic Stock Pot

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Next fill the pot with water and put it on a stainless steel single burner outdoor patio stove / range connected to propane/gas.

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  • Add seasoning, salt, halved lemons and onion.
  • Add potatoes and cook for 15 to 20 minutes
  • Add sausage and cook for 5 more minutes
  • Add corn and cook for 5 more minutes
  • Add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes

Just after the corn goes in light the butter warmers.

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Once the shrimp is cooked ladle out the food onto large cookie sheets and with an oven mitt and tongs transfer the food straight to a paper lined table. This is a great time to ask your guests to help you. You’ll want to move quickly as not to cool the food. Invite your guests around the table to dive in with their fingers and enjoy good food and amazing fellowship.

So good you’ll want to lick your fingers. But we always provide a warm towel and lemon for that.


For video step-by-step visit my The Design Network Channel!



DIY | The Real Side of Summer

by Mindy Lockard on July 16, 2014

Summer is such a wonderful time with our children. Isn’t it?

I love it, I really do. But I’d be lying if I painted it to be ALL sunshine and unicorns.

because there’s the…

“I’ve said no ten times. Asking while using a British accent might be charming but it isn’t going to change my mind.”


“Ladies, you may not both get into the sleeping bag and slide down the stairs… it will not end well.”

then there is…

“You’ve had breakfast, a snack and the kitchen is now closed until lunch.”

and in the spirit of complete honesty…

“I need ten minutes of not being touched. Please.”

But these moments are few and but when they do arise, I know we need to get busy with our hands. Here a few of our favorite summertime DIYs that keep them from touching each other, engaged in family life and give them ownership! Our King 5 New Day NW segment with step by step is below.

The Summer Chart that keeps on giving…

Summer Chart


this summer chart is super simple and something super easy for your kids to create!

This is what you need:

DIY What you need for Summer Chart

1. Magnet / Dry Erase Board (from Michael’s)

2. Dry Erase Markers

3. Magnets

4. Household miniature items (seriously, the cutest)

5. Cool Glue Gun

6. A short list of activities (a better word than chore don’t you think) that your child likes or feels they are good at.

The Making of a Summer Bucket List…


How many times do we say “This summer we should…”  This is what you’ll need to DIY  your “should” into a “did”


1. Metal bucket

2. Chalkboard paint

3. Index cards

4. Sheaffer Pen

5. Chalk

DIY your Piles of School Work Treasures 

How many times have I heard “Mom did you know my painting was in the recycle bin?”


This DIY gives your kids the power to pick the precious art, tests and projects they want to keep and look at their work for years to come.



1. Photo album

2. Ribbon and other decoration

3. Glue gun

4. Piles and piles of school work treasures


4th of July DIY

by Mindy Lockard on July 3, 2014

My favorite part about 4th of July is the traditions we have made as a family. The early morning pancake breakfast, decorating bikes for our small town parade, swimming in the lake followed by dinner and fireworks with friends. When it comes to bringing people together we have a few tricks up our sleeve to help your children get involved in the preparation and your guests to feel at home. The more prep, the less the stress…

DIY Drinks allow your guests to get involved right away and let’s be honest… nothing puts a guest at ease like a little something in their hand.


Sweets To-Go! This fun make ahead treat will ensure that as a host you aren’t busy in the kitchen while the fireworks are bursting overhead! These little desserts can be assembled the morning of, refrigerated and ready for your guest to just grab and go! Or easy to pack-up and take to your favorite firework location!


  • small canning jars
  • favorite shortcake
  • organic berries
  • whipped cream
  • ribbon
  • cupcake wrapper
  • labels


Tightly layer the shortcake, berries and whipped cream in the jars. Next, seal the jar with the canning lid and center the cupcake wrapper over the top. Screw on the canning ring over the top and tie with a ribbon. We also love to add a chalkboard sticker to let our guests know what they are enjoying!

Table Setting & Conversation Starter wrapped into one! My girls love making these and I love having them ready when guests arrive. Simple and festive.


  • bandana
  • utensils
  • ribbon
  • gold star
  • pen
  • Google fun US history facts for Q&A

For step-by-step visit The Gracious Girl’s The Design Network channel!

Or watch our recent KING 5 New Day segment!


Join me in a little exercise!

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Visualize yourself standing on the edge of a cliff. It’s high. VERY high. You are getting ready to jump, and look down at a net. The net that is going to catch you.

What does that net look like?

Small, weak, and with a large hole in the middle?

I didn’t think so.

I assume that net is large, made of strong material, and tightly woven.

Because we want to survive. Right?

The same is true for our NETwork! The professional net we build has the potential to drastically improve our professional survival rate. Keeping in mind that a net isn’t a magic cape that turns all of our dreams into a reality with one swoop, building a strong net takes—you guessed it… WORK!

So here are a few of my favorite tips from The Gracious Girl’s Guide to NETworking, to help you understand how to put in the WORK to build a large and strong NET!

“W” What do you want to get out of networking? And we’re not talking free cocktails and pot stickers. The question concerns your long-term professional goals, and your answer will determine the strength and size of your net. Are you willing and wanting to put in the WORK necessary to create future success? Unfortunately, it’s not called NetFUN because the commitment to networking is about setting goals that will make you uncomfortable and challenge you out of your comfort zone. If your goals and the people you want to connect with make you nervous, you are in the right spot. So ask yourself…

- What are my long term goals?

- What do I need to do to connect with people who can advise me or speak wisdom as to how I can achieve those goals?

- What amount of time on a weekly/monthly basis am I willing to commit to make my net strong?

“O” Open yourself up to learning. Some of the best networking happens because we ask others to teach us. So often we think that by networking, we have to sell ourselves as the experts. But let’s be honest, there is very little humility in that. People are more apt to join our network and entrust their network to us if they feel we are humble and trustworthy. I learned early on that networking is about connecting with people and learning from them. It’s okay to say, “Tell me more about that…,” or “I’m researching XYZ and wondering if I might take 15 minutes of your time to ask you a few questions.” You will build a tight net if you genuinely reach out to connect with people and leave yourself open to learning, rather than try to “sell” them on you.

“R” Respect others. Showing up and on time is key, as nothing says your time isn’t as important as my time like running late. Even if that isn’t your intention. Another way to show a lack of respect is to be inattentive. Make sure that while you are with others, your non-verbal behavior communicates that you are engaged. Eliminate all distractions (cell phones, clocks, looking over their shoulder) so that you are totally free to connect with a firm handshake, eye contact, and active listening. Even if you are engaged in the most boring conversation EVER, find ways to stay engaged. Commit to learning about others. Less about you, more about others.

“K” Keep good records. Maintain a system for keeping up your network and always follow up. When you have the correct information, you are able to stay connected—from email to thank-you notes. Yes, thank-you notes are a very strong player in building a strong network. Although you may meet someone and feel your paths don’t necessarily fit in at that moment, you never know when his/her path might be one you are interested in following. Having him/her in your network will prove to be helpful. Not being able to find the contact information, is, well…not so helpful.

There you have it! The WORK in networking. Drop a note below or on Facebook (from 6/24 to 6/27), telling me about the best networking advice you’ve received, and enter to win this beautiful Sheaffer Sagaris Brushed Chrome Featuring Gold Tone Trim Rollerball. Retail value is $60.00.



May the networking force be with you. And for more on our #WisdomforGrads series, visit…

Monday: Crane & Co

Tuesday: Me

Wednesday: Today’s Nest

Thursday: Letters from Lauren

Friday: Meredith Heron -Sashay Design Blog