Embracing the Great Outdoors

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The idea of being deep in the wilderness without the essentials, including a shower, sends chills up my spine. I’m a city girl through and through, so going on a camping trip with the family does not sound like a fun adventure to me.

When I was invited to take on the Ziploc® Fresh 180˚ challenge, “Embracing the Great Outdoors,” I had to dig deep. After giving the challenge due consideration, I decided to shake up our usual Friday night routine with a romantic backyard overnight for my husband and me under the stars, only steps from indoor plumbing.

For extra drama, I kept the plans a secret from everyone except my neighbors, who were kind enough to take my kids and give us a pop-up tent for the evening.

To make setup easy for the surprise overnight, I put a Ziploc® brand Flexible Tote in my laundry room. As I gathered supplies throughout the week, I popped them in the tote.

Set the Stage
As the idea developed and the “camping trip” approached, I noticed that I was really getting excited: this was going to be super fun. Friday finally arrived and when my husband left for the office, I flew into action getting everything set for our romantic night in the backyard. The best part? No bags to pack!

To keep from spoiling the surprise, I picked a spot for the tent that you couldn’t see from the house. My husband is a creature of comfort, so I inflated the air mattress and made up the bed with our good sheets, blankets and pillows, all the luxurious essentials.

I wanted the evening to be festive and special so I turned my attention to the tent surroundings. I strung Christmas lights on an extension cord around the tent entrance to give everything a nice glow. I set up some comfortable chairs and a small table with a white tablecloth because there’s something just so elegant about a simple white tablecloth. Candlelight was a must, along with a portable speaker so we could listen to our favorite music.

Plan a Simple Menu
I decided on a picnic similar to one we shared years ago in a Paris hotel room: French bread, cheese, olives, nuts and fruit – just perfect. All these food items are easy to pack up in Ziploc® brand Storage Containers.

As a nod to our camping adventure, I settled on s’mores cupcakes for dessert. I knew the marshmallow cream frosting would keep well in a Ziploc® brand Sandwich Bag – and I thought it might be fun to frost and toast the tops right at our outdoor table, so I packed up the kitchen torch, too.

I put everything we needed for our outdoor picnic, including a bottle of good champagne, into a Ziploc® brand Flexible Tote and put it in the fridge so at picnic time; all I had to do was carry the tote outside.

To keep the champagne cold, I made an ice bucket using a gallon-size Ziploc® brand Storage Bag. I just added ice and a bottle — voila!

When my husband came home, he was so surprised. I think he was secretly thrilled that I put so much effort into a backyard evening. We enjoyed our picnic and reminisced for hours under the stars before sliding into the tent for a great night’s sleep.

S’mores Cupcakes

7 graham crackers, crushed
1 chocolate cake mix, prepared to batter stage
1 large jar marshmallow cream
24 chunks of chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place paper cupcake liners into a cupcake tin. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of graham cracker crumbs into the bottom of each liner. Fill each cup two-thirds full and bake for 19 to 23 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool completely. Place the marshmallow cream into a Ziploc® brand Sandwich Bag. Cut the tip of the bag with scissors, and pipe marshmallow cream onto each cupcake. Toast the tops of the cupcakes with a kitchen torch, and garnish with a chunk of chocolate just prior to serving.

Disclaimer: I was paid to develop this post and to provide related images for Ziploc®. As always, all opinions are my own.


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