Pop Up Sweet Treats

When the weather is warm and it’s time for a sweet treat, look for seasonal goodies that complement summertime fun. For example, reach for an option like whole-grain, fluffy and crisp popcorn which can be an easy, DIY snack.

Combine sweet and salty flavors to create something delicious to devour like Coconut Popcorn Crunch Pie or delightful Down Home Apple Pie Popcorn.

To better serve a crowd, try these Perfect Picnic Popcorn Squares, Popcorn S’mores or Key Lime Popcorn Clusters at your next family pool party or summertime barbecue with friends.

For more creative, DIY popcorn recipe ideas, visit popcorn.org.

Down Home Apple Pie Popcorn

Yield: 10 cups

  • 3          tablespoons melted butter
  • 1          teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2          tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1          teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8       teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8       teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 8          cups popped popcorn
  • 1          cup dried apple chips, broken into large pieces
  • 1/4       cup toffee bits


  1. Heat oven to 300° F. Whisk melted butter with vanilla. Toss brown sugar with cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.
  2. Toss popcorn with butter mixture. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar mixture. Stir. Transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Sprinkle apple chips and toffee bits over top. Bake 15 minutes, or until toffee bits start to melt. Cool before serving.

Tip: Add chopped pecans for extra crunch.

Key Lime Popcorn Clusters

Yield: about 32 clusters

  • 8          cups popped popcorn
  • 4          whole graham crackers, finely chopped, divided
  • 1          jar (7 1/2 ounces) marshmallow creme
  • 1/4       cup butter or margarine
  • 2          tablespoons grated lime peel
  • 1          tablespoon key lime juice
  1. Line 9-inch square pan with foil.
  2. In large bowl, combine popcorn and all but 2 tablespoons graham cracker pieces.
  3. In large glass bowl, microwave marshmallow creme and butter on high 1 minute. Stir until butter is melted. Stir in lime peel and lime juice.
  4. Pour marshmallow mixture over popcorn, mixing thoroughly.
  5. Using damp hand, firmly press mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle with reserved graham cracker pieces. Refrigerate 2 hours until firm.
  6. Lift foil from pan. Break popcorn mixture into clusters.

Coconut-Popcorn Crunch Pie

Yield: 12 servings

  • 2          quarts popped popcorn, unsalted
  • 1          can (4 ounces) flaked coconut, toasted
  • 1          cup sugar
  • 1          cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2       cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4       cup water
  • 2          teaspoons salt
  • 1          teaspoon vanilla
  • 1          quart vanilla, spumoni or butter pecan ice cream
  • fresh fruit, for topping (optional)
  • chocolate sauce, for topping (optional)
  1. In large, buttered bowl, mix popcorn and coconut. In saucepan, combine sugar, syrup, butter, water and salt. Bring to boil over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue cooking until syrup reaches hard crack stage (290-295 F).
  2. Stir in vanilla. Pour syrup in fine stream over popcorn mixture; stir until particles are evenly coated with syrup.
  3. On buttered, 12-inch pizza pan, spread half of popcorn mixture in thin layer, covering bottom of pan. Mark off into wedge-shaped servings; set aside. Repeat using remaining popcorn mixture; cool.
  4. Cover one layer with ice cream; top with second popcorn layer. Store in freezer. To serve, cut in wedges. Serve with fruit or chocolate sauce, if desired.

Perfect Picnic Popcorn Squares

Yield: 12 squares

  • 1          cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2       cup sugar
  • 1/2       cup brown sugar
  • 1          cup reduced-fat peanut butter
  • 3/4       cup raisins
  • 8          cups air-popped popcorn
  • nonstick cooking spray
  1. In large saucepan, combine corn syrup, sugar, brown sugar and peanut butter.
  2. Bring to boil over low heat, stirring constantly; boil 2-3 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat.
  3. In large bowl, combine raisins and popcorn; pour hot mixture over popcorn and toss carefully with wooden spoons until well-coated.
  4. Spray 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray; press popcorn mixture into pan and cool completely.
  5. Cut into squares and serve.

Popcorn S’mores

Yield: 20 pieces

  • 1          cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2       cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
  • 1/2       cup corn syrup
  • 1/2       teaspoon baking soda
  • 10        cups freshly popped popcorn
  • 1          package (10 1/2 ounces) miniature marshmallows
  • 2          cups mini graham cookies
  • 1          cup chocolate chips
  1. In medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter and corn syrup.
  2. Cook over high heat 5 minutes; remove from heat and stir in baking soda.
  3. In large bowl, combine popcorn and marshmallows.
  4. Pour sugar mixture over popcorn to coat.
  5. Gently stir in graham cookies and chocolate chips.
  6. Spread mixture evenly into greased 15-by-10-inch pan.
  7. Let cool completely. Break into pieces. (Family Features)

Popcorn Board

Where to Catch Your Favorite Stars this Summer

New and classic shows and movies available in June

Many of your favorite shows are airing season finales, and soon many will start searching for ways to fill the entertainment void this summer. With a plan in mind, you won’t have to wait for the next big blockbuster to hit theaters or stay glued to reruns on TV to spend some quality time watching your favorite stars.

Some of the biggest names in entertainment can be found on streaming services like Netflix, and one of the best parts is there is no offseason. Everything is available on-demand, so you can watch on your schedule without disrupting your summer fun.

The classics are in full force this month, including some on-ice action that celebrates the United States Men’s National Ice Hockey Team’s classic 1980 Olympic victory with Kurt Russell in Miracle; searching the globe for lost treasure hidden by the United States’ forefathers with Nicholas Cage and Jon Voight in National Treasure; or even King George VI, played by Colin Firth, overcoming his struggles with a stutter to deliver one of the most iconic addresses in history in the award-winning film The King’s Speech.

These are just a sample of the titles you can find that are new to Netflix this June. New shows and movies are added to the service every day, so whether you’re into comedy, suspense, drama or anything in-between, you can find those genres and more on your smartphone, tablet or TV. Sign-up is easy; simply visit Netflix.com, choose a plan and provide payment information and your zip code.

Here’s a look at other shows and movies coming this month:

Explained: Season 1

This docuseries spotlights a wide range of topical and timely issues that impact lives on a daily basis, such as the gender wage gap, geopolitical politics, the rise of cryptocurrency and why diets fail. (Episodes available June 6, 13, 20 and 27)

The Staircase

This documentary series offers an inside look at the high-profile murder case of author Michael Peterson, accused of killing his wife in 2001. (Available June 6)

The Ranch: Part 5

Being a pro athlete didn’t pan out for Colt (Ashton Kutcher). Now he’s helping his dad (Sam Elliott) and brother keep the ranch afloat while figuring out how he fits into the family. (Available June 15)

Set It Up

In this romantic comedy, two overworked and underpaid assistants concoct a plan to get their insufferable bosses off their backs by setting them up with each other. (Available June 22)

Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle with the First Order. (Available June 26) (Family Features)


5 Tips for Healthy Summer Hydration

Summer provides countless opportunities to get outside for hiking, biking and running around with friends and family. However, having fun in the sun also requires proper hydration.

While staying hydrated may seem easy, healthy hydration is not always a given. For example, the water coming out of your faucet can travel through miles of aging pipes before it reaches your home, potentially picking up unwanted contaminants such as lead, pesticides and industrial pollutants along the way.

These tips can assist in achieving healthy hydration throughout the summer months:

Drink Plenty of Water. It may seem simple, but consuming an appropriate amount of water can be especially important when temperatures reach sweltering levels. Since the human body is 60 percent water, it’s a vital step for your health to make sure you’re getting enough of it, which is why Healthline recommends 6-8 glasses (8 ounces each) of water per day.

Make Sure It’s Pure. In addition to drinking the right amount of water, it’s also important to drink the right kind of water. Consider installing an in-home filtered water solution like the PUR Advanced Faucet Filtration system. It’s certified to reduce more than 70 contaminants, including 99 percent of lead – more than any other brand, according to NSF. Filtered water can be used to refill water bottles and ice cube trays, prepare infant formula, cook and make beverages like coffee, tea and even smoothies.

“Staying hydrated is especially important during the hot, summer months,” said Deb Mudway, PUR marketing vice president. “Our lead-reducing faucet filtration systems make it easy to enjoy cleaner, better-tasting water at home or on-the-go.”

Take It To-Go. Keeping a bottle of water with you when you’re out and about is a convenient way to stay hydrated. Rather than disposable plastic water bottles, consider using a refillable, BPA-free bottle, which is a more environmentally friendly choice and typically more affordable.

Add a Little Flavor. Quench your thirst and add some refreshing flavor and nutrients to your water by infusing it with strawberries, kiwi, orange, mint or melon slices.

Eat Water-Rich Foods. An overlooked option for maintaining proper hydration is eating fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, cucumbers and celery that naturally contain water. For the freshest results, wash your fruits and vegetables with filtered water prior to eating them.

Find more ways to ensure cleaner water consumption for proper summer hydration at PUR.com. (Family Features)


Simplify Your Lifestyle this Summer

From backyard barbecues and trips to the beach to baseball games and swim meets, summer is all about family fun. It’s also an ideal time to slow down and incorporate a more mindful routine at home.

This season, prioritize a “less-is-more” lifestyle by making smart swaps, like using products with better ingredients, to simplify your life and create an even healthier home for your family. With these easy, helpful tips, you can arm yourself with the tools to spend more time focusing on family and fun.

Pick Produce, Not Processed. What you feed your family often fuels summer fun, but favorite treats like ice cream and hot dogs can be full of unwanted ingredients and added sugars.Skip prepackaged items and look for fresh, seasonal produce that can be incorporated into multiple meals throughout the day, which can also lead to a shorter grocery list and less waste. For example, you can add nutrient- and antioxidant-rich stone fruit to Greek yogurt for breakfast, mix into salsa for a snack and throw on the grill then top with whipped cream for dessert.

Focus on the RightIngredients. Warmer temperatures and fun, outdoor activities can lead to extra stains and more laundry. It’s important to keep summer items dirt-free and smelling fresh with products you can feel good about bringing into your home. For a powerful clean without harshness to keep your summer wardrobe clean and fresh, try all fresh clean Essentials, which is formulated without sulfates and contains effective ingredients for deep cleaning the toughest stains.

Minimize Your Regimen. Take advantage of the seasonal climate to shorten your beauty routine and save time, energy and products. There’s no need to blow dry hair with warm weather – sleep in two twisted braids for beachy waves, air-dry after the shower or throw on a wide-brimmed sun hat to hide bed head. Also focus on products that do double duty: replace sticky lipsticks and gloss with tinted chapsticks that include SPF or mix in a drop of sunscreen to liquid foundation.

Simplify Cleanup. It’s easy to let the myriad rotating summer activities turn your space into an unexpected mess, so proactively prepare for the chaos by creating a cleanup kit. A clean towel, water bottle, sunscreen, change of clothes and snack in a small tote or plastic container can be left in the trunk of the car or in the garage to keep you from running around searching for supplies. This way, you’re prepared for whatever summer brings, be it spilled ketchup, an unexpected shower or even a care-free run through the backyard sprinkler.

Visit allsulfatefree.com to learn more and watch videos featuring wellness expert and mom Hilaria Baldwin that focus on smart tips for living cleanly. (Family Features)

Top Tips For Healthy Hydration: You’re Probably Missing This Key Ingredient

This summer, most of the United States experienced a heat wave that kept many people indoors or in the shade. Very high temperatures, especially for a prolonged period of time, can be extremely dangerous — and not just for the elderly or other vulnerable individuals. Participating in any outdoor activity, especially sports or physical labor, can be risky even for the healthiest among us. The key to staying healthy is staying hydrated.

As our bodies try to cool off, we sweat and lose not just the water we need, but something just as important — electrolytes. Electrolytes are made up of sodium and potassium among other elements which need to be replaced. Experienced athletes and runners know the importance of electrolytes, and drink sports drinks like Gatorade rather than just water. Replacing water without sufficient sodium can quickly produce hyponatremia, a potentially fatal condition caused by too little sodium in the blood stream.

Hyponatremia: A real threat

Hyponatremia symptoms are similar to those of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and are often overlooked. Sometimes people drink more water when they start having these symptoms and end up making their condition worse. Symptoms range from mild to severe and can include nausea, muscle cramps, disorientation, confusion, seizures, coma and death. To avoid this condition, medical experts advise marathon runners to consume extra salt. This advice should also be considered by anyone exposed to excessive heat.

There have been several documented cases of illness and even death from hyponatremia over the past several years. According to the British Medical Journal, 16 runners died as a result of too little sodium and over-hydration, while another 1,600 became seriously ill. It is true that water intoxication is more commonly seen among extreme athletes, but older individuals are also at high risk for several reasons.

An increased risk

As we age, our kidneys become less efficient at conserving the salt we need when the body is stressed, such as from dehydration and high temperatures. When combined with common medications such as diuretics, which are commonly prescribed to treat hypertension, the result is a greater risk for hyponatremia.

The key lies in finding the proper balance of electrolytes essential for normal function of the cells and organs. Electrolytes help to regulate cardiovascular and neurological functions, fluid balance and oxygen delivery.

Recipe for hydration

Ideally, anyone engaging in outdoor activity in the heat or even an indoor exercise program should drink eight to 12 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during a session. If exercising exceeds an hour, a beverage that contains salt and an energy carbohydrate is far superior to plain water. The recommended concentration of salt in a fluid replacement beverage is a quarter teaspoon per liter. Most sports drinks contain salt, although the amount is not quite that high. Anyone can make an alternative to commercial fluid replacement beverages easily by adding a quarter to a half teaspoon of salt per liter, or 32 ounces of water.

When you exercise, your body’s metabolism works at a much higher rate, breaking down and regenerating tissues and creating waste metabolites that need to be flushed out of your system. However, regardless of your level of activity, you still need to maintain good hydration. So remember to always drink plenty of water to beat the heat, but also up your intake of electrolytes, particularly sodium and potassium.

7 Gotta Get Summer Gadgets

By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor

I just love summer. Aside from the longer days, jaunts to tropical locales, weekend barbeques and balmy nights out on the town, it’s a season during which my thirst for innovative and utilitarian gadgetry is thoroughly quenched. Indeed, there’s a myriad of totally awesome tech that are particularly well-suited for the summer lifestyle. Here are a few relating to lawn care, skincare, entertainment and edibles that I’ve found to be particularly pleasing.

Photography courtesy of Rachio

Photography courtesy of Rachio

Rachio Smartphone Sprinkler Controller (www.Rachio.com) – $299.99

Take control of your watering this summer with Rachio, the Smart Sprinkler Controller that gives you control of your sprinklers and watering bill right from your smartphone! The Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller changes the way people water since it makes running sprinklers easy and convenient while also saving on water usage and money. Rachio automatically creates a customized watering schedule using local forecasts, soil and plant types, sun exposure, and more while keeping water conservation and landscaping health in mind. It’ll help keep your yard lush and green all summer long. Go ahead, make your neighbors green with envy with Rachio.Photo Ownership/Copyright Credit for Above

VocoPro KaraokeDual System for SmartTVs and Tablets (www.VocoPro.com) – $229

Here’s a way Karaoke singers can sound their best at home using their mobile tablets and SmartTVs. VocoPro’s KaraokeDual system is a powerful digital “boom box” with high-quality effects to provide the best possible sound. Users can connect to the system through Bluetooth and stream karaoke audio tracks wirelessly. Or, connect the KaraokeDual to an Internet-connected Smart TV using the available digital optical input and access thousands of tracks through YouTube, or popular karaoke apps like “Karaoke Channel” or “Red Karaoke.” Even sing duets with the system’s two wireless vocal microphones bundled in the package. Each mic has the controls built right into the handset for maximum convenience. For more than two decades, the VocoPro name has been synonymous with professional karaoke systems, and still holds the number one spot for high-end professional karaoke products. The company prides itself on providing industry-leading customer service. Now that’s music to my ears.

Photography courtesy of Overstock.com

Photography courtesy of Overstock.com

iBasics Tote Bag with Built-in Speaker (www.Overstock.com) – $50.00

Speaking of music, nothing beats a perfect picnic or beach outing like your favorite tunes playing in the background. Now that’s super easy with the fashionable iBasics Tote Bag with Built-in Speaker, which allows you to make your own background music while carrying your favorite outing essentials, including wet towels and bathing suits since the bag is waterproof. In addition to the detachable battery-powered speaker that plugs right into your audio source, the cute clear blue-tinted tote bag also features a large main zippered compartment and a small zippered side compartment for your smartphone and other small electronics.

Photography Courtesy of Silk'n

Photography Courtesy of Silk’n

Silk’n Flash&Go Express Hair Removal Device (www.Silkn.com) – $299

Of course, in preparation for a day at the beach or pool requires some grooming, including dealing with unwanted body hair. Now you can kick old-school razors to the curb and say goodbye to unwanted hair forever with help from the Silk’n Flash&Go Express. The FDA-cleared device uses patented Home Pulsed Light (HPL) technology and a convenient, compact design to permanently remove hair from head to toe with ease. Simply target the treatment area and let the Flash&Go Express do the rest with gentle pulses of light that disable hair growth at the root. In only two-to-four sessions, the company reports that most users experience visually diminished hair that is comparable to results produced by professionally administered procedures. The best part is you never have to deal with ingrown hairs, razor burn or refill cartridges again! Go ahead, be stubble free forever and make shaving a thing of the past with the Silk’n Flash&Go Express.

Photography Courtesy of Silk'n

Photography Courtesy of Silk’n

Silk’n FaceFX Anti-Aging Device (www.Silkn.com) – $149.00

During those sunny summer months, anti-aging skincare should remain top of mind lest those UV rays get the best of you. Luckily I found the Silk’n FaceFX at-home anti-aging device that uses a synergistic combination of red light therapy and deep thermal heating to stimulate collagen production, diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and provide a brighter, clearer, more radiant complexion. Each session takes only 15-20 minutes and is done just three times per week for the first month, and then merely once per month going forward. The company notes that some results can be seen immediately with the most dramatic changes occurring after three to seven weeks. This clinically tested and dermatologist recommended anti-aging tool can be used on crow’s feet, under the eyes, cheeks and virtually any other problem area. This gadget is a true summer savior.

Photography courtesy of Silk'n

Photography courtesy of Silk’n

Silk’n Blue Acne Treatment/Prevention Device (www.Silkn.com) – $149

Another way to save face this season is with a device called Silk’n Blue, which is a revolutionary new way to treat and prevent acne. The clinically proven, dermatologist-recommended and FDA cleared Silk’n Blue at-home device combines the synergistic power of blue light emitting diode (LED) technology and infrared (IR) heat radiation. The device offers a safe, drug-free, non-invasive, gentle and effective way to combat the root causes of both present and future acne. By simply pressing the device down on problem areas, the blue light penetrates the skin to destroy bacteria that lives deep beneath the skin’s surface, while the IR heat initiates deep tissue warming and dehydrates the oil-overproducing sebaceous glands. With regular use, visible results can be seen in as little as three to seven weeks and is a great way to put your best face forward.

Photography courtesy of Overstock.com

Photography courtesy of Overstock.com

Nostalgia Electrics Vintage Collection Old-fashioned 6-quart Wood Bucket Ice Cream Maker (www.Overstock.com) – $93.45
Create your own chocolate ice cream, peach frozen yogurt, vanilla gelato and more with the Nostalgia Electrics ice cream maker. Designed to make up to six quarts of dessert (ice cream, frozen yogurt or gelato) at a time, this adorable Vintage-styled electric ice cream maker features an old-fashioned woodgrain appearance. The aluminum canister is rust-resistant and, with hits large capacity, you can entertain several guests or family members in one go. Use ingredients right from local market for fresh homemade treats this season and beyond!


Merilee Kern

Merilee Kern

“The Luxe List” Executive Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Submissions are accepted at www.TheLuxeList.com. Follow her on Twitter here: www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor and Facebook here: www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided and/or sponsored to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

Enjoy American Born Moonshine Summer Cocktails

Summer is here and there’s no better way to celebrate than with some festive cocktails from American Born Moonshine
Handcrafted in Tennessee, every part of American Born Moonshine is made in the United States. From the lid and label to the jar and the moonshine itself, American Born Moonshine resonates the rebel spirit of American history. American Born is available in three flavors, Original White Lightning Moonshine, Apple Pie Moonshine and a sweet tea infused Dixie Moonshine, and all flavors are smooth tasting and pair well with the simplest of mixers
Original and Lemonade

Original and Lemonade

Original & Lemonade
2oz American Born Moonshine Original, 4oz lemonade. Pour in glass over ice, stir well.
The Watermelon Crawl

The Watermelon Crawl

The Watermelon Crawl
1oz American Born Moonshine Original, 1oz watermelon schnapps, 4oz lemon-lime soda. Fill rocks glass with ice, pour ABM Original, add schnapps, top with lemon-lime soda. 
Dixie Moonshine & Lemonade

Dixie Moonshine & Lemonade

Dixie & Lemonade
2oz American Born Moonshine Dixie, 6oz lemonade. Pour into glass over ice, stir well. 
Apple Pie & Soda

Apple Pie & Soda

Apple Pie & Soda
2oz American Born Moonshine Apple Pie, 4oz soda water. Pour in glass over ice, stir well. 
Chilled Apple Pie Shot

Chilled Apple Pie Shot

Chilled Apple Pie Shot
1oz American Born Moonshine Apple Pie. Serve chilled. 
American Born Moonshine can be purchased at Specs, as well as other various liquor stores. It is also available in the following states: California, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Iowa, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida.


Summer Beauty Must-Haves Under $100


Callie Meuer, Stylist and Make Up Artist with Jose Luis Salon in Austin, Texas

Callie Meuer, Stylist and Make Up Artist with Jose Luis Salon in Austin, Texas

Summer is the season of all things hot and lively. The warm weather and sunny skies encourage you to wear vibrant, loose clothing and try new beauty products to make your skin glow.

Callie Meuer, Stylist and Makeup Artist at Jose Luis Salon shares her Summer Beauty Must-Have Under $100 in our May / June Issue of InFluential Magazine.

Check out the editorial and let us know your thoughts.