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Saturday, June 28, 2014

4th of July Party Ideas

Celebrate the 4th of July in style by adorning your home (indoors and out) with all things red, white, and blue. Grilling and fireworks are a given, but it's all the little extras that make it special.From easy DIY crafts to delicious recipes, bring this classic color trio to your celebration! Try a themed dinner party with an over-the-top display or simply update a sofa with patriotic-inspired pillows, like stars and stripes. Check out these tips below and get full instructions for some DIY projects!

Begin decorating by scouring your house for red, white, and blue items. Don't be picky on the shades of color because a little variation in hues will make your decor more dynamic.​ For a picture-perfect table, include these foolproof accessories: bottled soda, striped party straws, fresh flowers, and a flag, of course!

Summer is berry season, and you cannot get enough of these sweet fruits. With a little time, this recipe is easy to whip up, is a guilt-free treat but does require a few extra steps to achieve the fun layered look. And these popsicles will be delicious even if they don't turn out with symmetrical lines. Ingredients: 2 cups berries, red * 2 cups berries, blue * 1 1/2 cup milk * 4 tablespoon honey * 1 1/2 cup ice cubes
We used a mix of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries but feel free to use various combinations of these four berries or your own variety. A simple alternative is two cups of strawberries and two cups of blueberries. You will also need: Large bowls * Blender * ​Colander * Popsicle sticks * Popsicle mold or mason jars * Makes 10-12 popsicles (depending on the size of your mold)
Step 1: Rinse the red berries. Hull the strawberries, and discard the greens. In the blender, mix all red berries, 1/4 cup milk, 1 tablespoon honey, and 1/2 cup ice. Pour red mixture a third of the way full in popsicle molds or mason jars. Immediately place in the freezer. Depending on how many molds you have, this may take a few rounds of filling and freezing. Refrigerate any extra mixture in a large bowl. Step 2: Wash the blender, and wait 30 minutes while the red mixture is freezing. Then, prepare the white mixture. Add 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup ice, and 2 tablespoon honey to the blender and mix. Remove the popsicle molds from the freezer and check to see if red mixture is almost frozen. As long as it is slushy, you can slowly pour the white mixture in each mold. Fill to two-thirds of the way full. Insert popsicle sticks through the white mixture down into the red mixture. Once again, immediately place in the freezer. Refrigerate any extra mixture in a large bowl. ​ Step 3: After white mixture has been in the freezer for about 30 minutes, prepare blue mixture. Rinse blackberries and blueberries, then add to the blender with 1/4 cup milk, 1 tablespoon honey, and 1/2 cup ice. Blend until mixed. Remove popsicle molds from the freezer, and slowly pour blue mixture into the remainder of the mold. Immediately place in the freezer, and let freeze completely (about 4 hours). Repeat steps with additional mixture for more popsicles. When it is time to serve popsicles, remove molds from freezer and let sit for two to three minutes before removing popsicles from the mold.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer Fun Recipes for Watermelon

Blend into Margaritas ~ Icy-cool margaritas are the emblem of any fabulous fiesta. Refresh your next pitcher with crisp cubes of watermelon! The pretty-in-pink fruit sweetly tames the punchy flavor of face-scrunching lime. Deck your glass rims in sugar for a sweet-as-candy finish. Tip: Leftover watermelon? Use remaining round slices for cute and creative coasters!
Ingredients:
Watermelon cubes, (if desired)
Kosher salt
10 lime wedges
3 cups Triple Sec or other orange liqueur
2 cups tequila
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lime juice
1 cup superfine sugar or powdered sugar
5 cups seedless watermelon, chopped
If desired, freeze cubes of watermelon on a waxed paper-lined tray for 1 to 2 hours or until firm. Place salt on a small plate. Rub rims of eight glasses with one of the lime wedges. Dip rims of glasses in salt to coat; set aside. In a pitcher combine Triple Sec, tequila, lime juice, and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour 1/4 cup of tequila mixture into blender or food processor with chopped watermelon (working in batches if necessary). Cover and blend or process until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Combine watermelon juice with remaining tequila mixture. Stir. Chill until ready to serve. Place frozen watermelon cubes, if using, in salt-rimmed glasses. Pour tequila mixture over watermelon cubes. Garnish with remaining lime wedges.

Freeze for Fruit Pops ~ Swap that old box of store-bought ice pops for a tray of rejuvenating, DIY watermelon pops! The frozen goodies layer slushy watermelon and tropical kiwifruit for the perfect poolside treat.
Ingredients:
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups cubed seedless watermelon
8 -5 ounces paper cups
8 wooden frozen dessert sticks
8 kiwifruits, peeled and cut up
In a small bowl combine the water and sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves. In a blender combine watermelon cubes and 1 tablespoon of the sugar-water mixture. Cover and blend until smooth. Divide mixture among paper cups. Cover tops of paper cups with foil. Cut a slit in the center of the foil on each cup; insert a wooden stick through each slit, about halfway into the mixture. Place cups on a small baking sheet. Freeze for 1 to 2 hours or until thick and slushy. In a blender combine kiwifruits and the remaining sugar-water mixture. Cover and blend until smooth. Remove foil from paper cups. Pour kiwifruit mixture evenly over watermelon layer in cups. Freeze for at least 4 hours or until completely solid. To serve, peel away paper cups.

Make Pickles ~ Watermelon pickles? That's right! Save, slice, and soak the pale green rinds of summer's favorite fruit in white vinegar and homey cinnamon for a snack you can enjoy year-round!
Ingredients:
1-10 pound watermelon
6 cups water
1/3 cup pickling salt
Cold water
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
15 inches stick cinnamon, broken
2 teaspoons whole cloves
Cut rind from watermelon (you should have about 4 1/2 pounds rind). Trim off the pink flesh and the green and pale green outer portions of the watermelon rind; discard those portions. Cut the rind into 1-inch squares or other shapes. Measure 9 cups rind. Place the 9 cups rind in a large nonmetal bowl. In another large bowl, combine the 6 cups water and the pickling salt; pour over rind (add more water, if necessary, to cover). Cover bowl and allow to stand at room temperature overnight. Pour the rind mixture into a colander set in sink. Rinse mixture under cold running water; drain well. Transfer rind to a 4-quart heavy pot. Add enough cold water to cover rind. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until rind is tender; drain. Meanwhile, for syrup, in a 6- to 8-quart stainless-steel, enamel, or nonstick heavy pot, combine sugar, vinegar, the 1 1/2 cups water, the stick cinnamon, and cloves. Bring to boiling, stirring until sugar dissolves; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Strain mixture through a sieve, reserving liquids. Discard solids and return liquids to same pot. Add watermelon rind to syrup in pot. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until rind is translucent. Pack hot rind and syrup into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids. Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (start timing when water returns to boiling). Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

July 4th Party Ideas

Play with Bubbles ~ What's inexpensive and guaranteed fun for kids? Bubbles! Give this cool kids' activity 4th of July style with DIY star-shape wands.

Mix Up Your Reds, Whites, and Blues ~ The classic July 4th look is red, white, and blue, but you can use whatever shades you want. Rather than the traditional cobalt blue, we chose pastel hues of aqua and sky blue for a modern look.

Fruit Salad Sailboat ~ A simple sail is all you need to transform a watermelon fruit salad into a seaworthy centerpiece. Cut a triangle from ticking fabric and fold it in half over a dowel. Hot-glue the fabric along the dowel to secure and along the loose edges for a stiff sail.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My 2014 July 4th All American RED WHITE & BLUE Picks from Williams -Sonoma for decorating, dining, eating, crafting and of course Fireworking!


Striped Straws, Set of 8
Ice cream lovers know how important it is to enjoy frosty treats right down to the last delicious drop—a given with our playful striped straws. Perfect for parties and everyday fun, these sturdy, reusable straws are great for milkshakes, smoothies, sodas and other cool, refreshing beverages.


Giant Star Cookie Cutter
For a star-spangled Independence Day celebration, bake a patriotic constellation of star-shaped cookies using our clever cutter. Designed with petite star cut-outs, the giant cutter turns out a spectacular cookie that's ready for decorating with shimmering sugar or colorful icing. You can also bake the dough cut-outs to create miniature cookies, perfect for enjoying on their own or using as garnishes for ice cream.


Williams-Sonoma Snow Cone Syrup
Chill out with super-cool snow cones drizzled with our sensational syrups. Blended from premium fruit-juice concentrates, they’re bursting with vibrant color and pure, all-natural flavors. Savor them one at a time, or create a rainbow cone by combining them all on a single scoop of shaved ice. You can also mix the syrups with water (1 part syrup to 2 parts water) to make refreshing frozen ice pops.


4th of July Cookie Cutter Set
Hurray for the USA! Kids will love using these classic cookie cutters to bake up sweet celebrations for the Fourth of July and other festive American holidays. Perfect for parties, the cutters come in four iconic shapes, each guaranteed to inspire creative decorating in bakers of all ages. Our American-made cutters are constructed of tin, so they're reminiscent of the antique cookie sets produced before the 1920s.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Just Passing Through To Prosperity

“...let them say continually, ‘Let the Lord be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.’ ” Psalm 35:27

Are you in the land of “Just Enough”? Your needs are supplied and you’re grateful, but there’s nothing extra, nothing to accomplish your dreams. God is saying, “I did not breathe My life into you to live in the land of Barely Enough. I didn’t create you to live in the land of Just Enough.” Those are seasons, tests ~ they are not permanent, we are just passing through! This season is only temporary, just as the natural seasons are.

We can’t let ourselves have a barely-get-by mentality. Jesus came so that we can live an abundant life, that means an abundance of joy, an abundance of peace, an abundance of health, an abundance of finances. We may not see it right now, and maybe we haven’t experienced it in the past, but we can’t get complacent and just settle for where we are, in the land of “Barely Enough”. God desires that we be blessed and prosperous, He desires that we be so blessed that we can turn around and be a blessing everywhere we go! He wants us to have so much peace, so much joy, so much victory that when other people get around us, it spills over onto them!

God has a Promised Land for each of us ~ a place of abundance, of more than enough where it’s flowing with provision. Not just one time, but continual increase, a land flowing with plenty! While our current location may not be ideal, it is just that ~ our location, NOT our identity. We have to keep saying, “God takes pleasure in prospering me. I am the head and never the tail, and God is leading me in the path of blessing in every area of my life!”

We have to get a vision for our future ~ a vision for increase, a vision for abundance! God delights to see us prosperous and successful. When we choose to think God’s thoughts and choose God’s way, we’ll see that increase and victory in every area of our life!

Father, thank You for delighting to see me prosper. Thank You for the blessings You have given me and those You have in store for me. Help me to develop a vision for Your abundant life so that I can be a blessing everywhere I go. I trust that Your ways lead me to the land of abundance and I thank You for provision today and for abundance tomorrow in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Picnic Crafts ~ Tablecloth Bottle Wrap

This quick folding trick helps you get a handle on picnic wines, then yields a place to lay your outdoor feast. Use a print in a seasonal hue and your set for a picnic anytime of year!


1. Start with a square tablecloth that's at least 36 inches. Lay it right side down. Place one bottle on each side of the bottom corner, as pictured. Pull the bottom corner up over the bottles, then roll the bottles forward to opposite corner.

2. Holding the cloth in place, stand up the bottles.

3. Twist ends in opposite directions; knot them to secure.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My 2014 July 4th All American RED WHITE & BLUE Picks from Crate & Barrel for decorating, dining, eating, crafting and of course Fireworking!


Patriotic String Lights ~ Indoor-outdoor lights take a shine to the red, white and blue multicolored mini globes that light up the festive porch or patio.


Patriotic Flag Banner ~ Festive banner flies the colors in red, white and blue stripes and fireworks patterned on 100% cotton flags strung on a band of red. Reusable decoration comes in its own convenient pouch.


Awning Stripe Umbrella Picnic Blanket ~ Fresh awning stripe in red adds a classic, summery look to outdoor gatherings. PVC-coated cotton tablecloth unfurls as a welcome spread for picnics and outdoor concerts with a grommeted hole to accommodate umbrella poles. Rolls up and fastens with velcro tab tie.


Vinca Blue Melamine Plates ~ Vinca vines entwine in tonal blues and red around a single bloom, adding a floral, festive note to the casual tablescape. Layers well with our Lunea melamine dinnerware.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Do-It-Yourself Outdoor Project Ideas

Sprucing up your deck, patio, or yard just got an inspirational boost, thanks to these projects you can do yourself. They range from small and simple to more intricate and involved, and all are worthwhile to make the outdoors more livable and lively come spring.

Wooden pallets are easy to come by on the cheap -- many businesses will even give them away! They are the building blocks of a coffee table so low-maintenance, it can stay outside year-round. Our version stacks two pallets together for height and features a window box-style planter (which we filled with Scotch moss) as a centerpiece.

Conjure up a festive mood with this outdoor fire bowl. Start with a fireproof container, such as this galvanized bowl that we primed and coated with outdoor paint in a cheery hue. Fill the bowl with recycled tempered glass chips, and tuck in a can of alcohol-free gel fuel. With a click of a lighter, the flame will dance and enchant for hours.

Boost the function of a store-bought potting bench, which doubles as an outdoor serving station. Cut sections of lattice to fit the sides and back, paint them to match  and fasten the lattice with screws. Use S-hooks or screw eyes to hang garden tools, gloves, buckets, or other necessities so they’re always within reach.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

My 2014 July 4th All American RED WHITE & BLUE Picks from Pottery Barn for decorating, dining, eating, crafting and of course Fireworking!


Fourth of July Burlap Stars ~ Accented with patriotic stripes, our burlap stars add a casual yet festive accent to outdoor parties. Hang them in doorways or along a walkway.


Painted American Flag ~ This substantial wooden flag is made entirely of recycled pine and then painted for a rustic finish.


Galvanized Metal Star Tiered Stand ~ The countryside style of galvanized metal brings to mind summer picnics and 4th of July fireworks. Featuring star-shaped trays for patriotic appeal, this playful stand is perfect for passing out holiday treats.