Belated Independence

Where did July go? I know, I know, it’s not over just yet, but I am shockingly behind myself on practically every front, which would be woefully embarrassing if I lacked a reason, but (thankfully?) my excuse is as timeless as a tacky 80s flick. Yessiree, I got mono.

Before you ask, NO, I have not been kissing anyone suspicious OR interesting. Unless you count the highly slobbery kisses I got from my one-year-old niece at a family reunion in early June.

I’ve learned, though, that you can’t let a little mono get you down. . . I mean, HEY, what’s a little four-week fever? Glands are just glands, even when they’re huge. You’ve got to keep living your life, right? At least, that was my reasoning for making the 7 hour ride to New York and hosting an impromptu Fourth of July Party for my parents and co. SO, without further ado, it is with belated excitement that I share my Independence Day Undertakings!

First up on the docket? Some DIY decor! 

These tea lights and bouquets were a cinch to make and looked so sweet scattered about the picnic! I just put some star-shaped stickers on old jam jars and rustled up an old can of white paint. With a few hours to dry in the sunshine and a couple of citronella tea-lights, theses star candle-holders were a perfect accent to the red polka-dot ribbon I found for 50 cents in a discount ribbon box. . . right alongside the navy ric-rac I used on the flowers! With a handful of small flags, a bouquet of baby’s breath and a few more jam jars, we were in business!!!

Done Decorating? No way! As cute as the candles and nosegays might be, we needed a little more clear communication of what exactly was being celebrated. . . armed with cardboard, a paintbrush, a stencil and a few colors of acrylic paint, my mom and I took inspiration from Etsy and did our part to let our Freedom Flag FLY!

Next up? Food Preparation!

Cold Fruit Stars and Stripes made with a star cookie cutter, watermelon, blueberries, frozen grapes and bamboo skewers!

Nothing makes for tastier summer desserts than no-bake treats! Piping cheesecake into these strawberries was quite a bit easier than pie (or at least easier than cheesecake) and then all there was to do was top it all off with fresh blueberries! This dessert presented beautifully . . . with Strawberries and Cheesecake for all!

The next dessert might be my favorite yet! I am an unabashed rice crispie treat addict, but the trick to this stacked Snap Crackle Layer Cake is making them with extra marshmallows, which you should probably do anyway, because it makes them so gooey and delicious! The reason why it is ESPECIALLY important with the cake is due to the servability . . . nobody wants to try to hack apart a brick of rice crispy treat! Extra marshmallows keeps the whole thing gooey and highly cuttable.

Our only baked treat was this luscious vanilla cake, made from scratch and chilled before it was covered with whipped cream and berries for a token representation of Old Glory. . . which is highly fitting considering how glorious it ended up tasting!

Not Shown: Heavenly Chicken Speedies, Enormous Hot Dogs, Deviled Eggs, Red White and Blue Coleslaw and Blue Chips with Salsa! Guests all contributed to the spread and we enjoyed some incredible potato salad, Tasty Quinoa and Flavorful Greens!

The only other true prep remaining was a chilly beverage to cool our guests down in aperitif! In keeping with our colors of the day, I whipped up a blender full of Strawberry Daiquiri, stuck marshmallow halves to the inside of serving cups and handed these lovely drinks out with blue straws to top them off!

Since our Independence Shin-Dig lasted the better part of the day, I kept our final crucial piece on standby for when the gigantic bonfire we had planned died into a manageable blaze for s’mores!

All in all, it was a pretty hot party if I do say so myself, although maybe it was just my steady temp of 101.4!

To tell the truth, the best part was just enjoying the fruit of all preparation with friends and remembering that we were not just celebrating an opportunity for good food and friends, but something of much greater significance. Although the freedom we celebrate is nothing to be made light of, it seems fitting that we make a true celebration of the fourth of July as a tribute to our Great Country and the gift it is to be a citizen living with the degree of Freedom we enjoy. But I digress. Leaving my patriotic soap box behind, I hope you all enjoyed the fourth as much as I did! Any fun traditions out there? What did you do to celebrate?

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