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How to prepare a great picnic

As I was scrolling through my Facebook last week, I came across a post on a group page for Reisterstown residents. A member of the group was inquiring about good picnic spots in the area. He explained he wanted to take his wife on a romantic picnic.

After reading this, I was instantly jealous. I adore picnics and cannot think of a better date idea than spending time outside with my husband, eating wonderful finger foods and enjoying the peacefulness of nature.

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I made a mental note to suggest this idea to my husband and continued on to read the replies. There were many wonderful suggestions for neighborhood picnic spots, as well as some great food suggestions.

Picnics are usually a casual, fun and inexpensive way to enjoy the outdoors. The wonderful thing about picnics is they do not require a great deal of advanced planning and can be done alone, with one companion or with a large group of people.

I decided to put together some suggestions for making your next picnic amazing.

• The first thing you will need if you are going somewhere without tables is a picnic blanket. There are all sorts of fancy picnic blankets available for purchase, but I like to bring an old throw or sheet from my closet just in case it gets stained from food or the outdoors. My dad used to pack an old shower curtain liner with our blankets when we were going to be sitting on the grass, and that helped keep the moisture out if the ground was damp.

• Once you have your blanket ready to go, you want to make sure you have all of the eating utensils you need, as it might be difficult to get more if you are in a remote spot. I like to keep my supplies basic. I usually bring plastic forks, knives, spoons and cups.

I usually splurge on some sturdy paper plates, especially if I won't be eating on a table. I also bring a sharp kitchen knife to cut meats, sandwiches and cheeses, as well as a cutting board. The cutting board can be used as a serving tray, as well. If you are planning on bringing wine or bottled beer, be sure to pack a corkscrew/bottle opener, as well.

But be mindful of where you're going if you intend to bring utensils such as knives, as there might be regulations prohibiting them in some areas.

• Along with eating utensils, it is also important to bring supplies for cleanup. Make sure you bring a trash bag, as well as some empty containers or zipper bags for leftovers. Moist towelletes and paper towels or napkins are good for messy hands and eating surfaces.

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• Let's not forget the most important part of the picnic: the food. When I think of picnic foods, I usually tend to steer toward things I can eat with my hands, such as sandwiches or fried chicken. In the summertime, fresh fruits and vegetables can be cut into bite-size pieces and are a wonderful picnic staple. I tend to steer away from salads that have mayonnaise in them because I worry about spoiling in hot weather; instead, I normally bring more high temperature-friendly sides.

If you are planning on packing a sweet treat for your picnic, it might be good to bring something that will not melt easily, such as a fruit dessert instead of chocolate. In order to keep the food cool, I use an insulated bag instead of a heavy cooler. I also make sure to bring plenty of ice and cold beverages. Don't forget condiments and salt and pepper, as well.

• It may be fun to bring some playing cards, a Frisbee or a kite along to add some more fun to your outdoor lunch or dinner. Because you will be outside for a while, you will want to make sure you bring sunscreen to reapply every few hours, as well as a hat to protect your face.

There are many great spots in the area to picnic, such as Soldiers Delight Natural Environmental Area, Irvine Nature Center and Red Run Stream Valley Trail. You could visit one of these or head out to your favorite nature spot or even your own backyard.

As long as you get to enjoy the sunshine and natural surroundings, a picnic can be anywhere.

I hope this inspires you to get out with your family, friends or special someone and enjoy eating and spending time together in nature.

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Kelly Scible is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached via email at kellyscible@gmail.com.

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