A Patriotic Pergola Picnic!

This post is all about the ol’ Red, White and Blue and with July 4th around the corner, I hope it inspires you with its patriotic spirit… enjoy!

Feel free to click on any photo for a larger view and if you have any questions (or comments… I “heart” those! 🙂 ), please feel free to share them.

During the year, so many celebrations and holidays call for a “Patriotic” theme (Military Homecoming, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day… even the Olympics!), so here’s some creative ideas to inspire you when it’s time to wave your own flag…  on a budget, as usual! 😉

The FOOD!  Keeping it light…

For your celebration, you might want to consider challenging yourself to come up with a slightly healthier menu, starting with a lighter hotdog.  Then, some unique twists on old favorites like corn on the cob.  I call this recipe “Crunchy Corn on the Cob”.  Instead of rolling it in butter,  sprinkle it with crushed blue corn chips (blue) and a touch of chunky sea salt (white) and paprika (red).  Do this right after the corn leaves the pan, using the hot water (instead of butter) to help the crushed chips stick to the corn.  You won’t believe how incredibly tasty this is and how well the two flavors & textures go together!  Accenting the corn with the flavor of fresh cilantro was yummy too!   And check out how cute Patriotic Skewers work as holders for the corn.

Create a “bite-size” salad with Caprese’ Skewers.  Add another “patriotic twist” with a single blueberry at the end of the fresh basil leaf, mozzarella ball and cherry tomato lineup.  Place the ingredients on Patriotic Pinwheel Skewers (Pier One) for some patriotic pizzazz!  Finally, drizzle a Balsamic Glaze and sprinkle fresh herbs to keep taste high and calories low.

The dessert’s main ingredient is an old family recipe – Amoretto Fruit Cream.  It’s very similar to the one featured court-side at England’s famous Wimbledon Tennis matches, which take place around the U.S.A.’s Independence Day.  So, why not let the fruit cream pull double-duty for you by having a Wimbledon party & serving strawberries & cream?  Check out the RECIPE section of my blog for the super, simple details and directions.  You’ll never serve the old marshmallow-y stuff again! LOL   To drive your theme home even more, add the unexpected – a little, sugary sweet in the center.  I used a patriotic flag cupcake accent (found in the boxed cake section of most grocery chains) and served it all over a slice of Angel Food Loaf Cake (check the bakery dept. of your local grocery store).  

The BEVERAGES!

Keep things simple & low-cal by serving water and iced tea.  I found cute patriotic straws (also at Pier 1) and created a hole in the center of a strawberry, to push a straw through, for another decorative touch.  To add some patriotic flair to a dispenser of iced tea, use a shape mold to create “star” ice cubes, in red and blue [note:  juices melt, so if you’re going to use them in clear water, stick to 1 color because mixing colors can give it a murky look].  You’ll find this star mold at most craft stores.  I used a 50% off coupon so my cost was only $5.00.  And since I LOVE two-fers, wouldn’t this be perfect to use during Christmas too?  🙂

PARTY FAVORS!  

A party favor is extra fun & easy when you follow the lead of a theme (enlarge photo to see note card).  The note card sets up the idea behind this favor: “SNAP”  represents small fireworks, “CRACKLE” – is represented by 2 different kinds of sparklers and “POP” – a blue, over-sized blow pop.  Also, knowing how hot it can be, at outdoor parties, a hand “FAN” is a great item to include for your guest’s (individual) comfort.  To create one, cut out the flat, center circle of a sturdy, patriotic theme, paper plate.  When done, glue a wooden tongue depressor to the back.  P.S.  Don’t throw away the leftover paper plate’s outer ring… I have a fun idea for that too!

All of these goodies fit perfectly into a tall, plastic, patriotic container (Wal-Mart Party Dept. – 97 cents) and there’s no need to fill it all the way – just pop a small, red potato in the bottom of each to weight it down.   Wrap the finished favor in clear plastic, add a bow and the “theme” note card (click HERE for a printable version of the theme note card I created for mine).  For apx. $3.00 each, you have a festive party favor that’s not only colorful, but also completely “interactive”!

Time to DECORATE!

Check party stores and the Dollar Tree for inexpensive decorations.  I found these paper lanterns and pinwheels at PARTY CITY, for $14 (total).  For the price, they really add a punch of color to a picnic setting.  Be sure to check out my up-cycled thrift store chandelier idea because it looks great in this setting!

Consider a 2nd (side) table to hold and display your dessert, drinks, plastic-ware, etc.  This is also a great place to use your party favors to help you decorate (double-duty!)  More decorating ideas:  a rustic Uncle Sam (made from a fence post) and flag.  The flag is made by wrapping a large piece of foam core board with inexpensive muslin fabric, which is pulled to the back and stapled in place.  For the stripes, untwist lengths of red “twist paper ribbon”.  To create the star, glue white buttons onto a piece of dark blue construction paper.  Once everything is glued into place and dry, spray paint a light coat of “Wood Tone” by Design Master (a thinned-down brown paint), over the entire project, to give it an aged look.

Utilize cake plates, everyday plates and vases from around the house to create varying height on your table… a great technique that caterers use.  It creates visual interest and saves space!

Check discount stores for inexpensive tablecloths.  I found these at Big Lots ($3.25).  The color POP is fantastic and they coordinated perfectly with my hanging decorations.

And doesn’t it seem like every patriotic table-scape you come across features a geranium?  I love how they look also, but they have gotten expensive, so check out all of the other red, summer, flowering plants in the garden shop.  I found this Lantana for 1/3 the cost!

As promised… the reason you saved the outer rings of the paper plates is because nothing goes to waste in The Seasonal Home!  Overlap the ends and staple or tape it back together, to create a circle/ring.  It makes a fun, patriotic hat.

Imagine some of your party-goers wearing these hats while holding their sparklers… turning themselves into the famous MISS LIBERTY herself!

Enjoy the Creativity!

Eileen

http://www.TheSeasonalHome.com


Advertisements

Ideas for your Summer Yard

During the summer, flowers are the “star” of the show.  And it’s so much fun to explore new flowers (hybrids on the market) as well as display ideas, so here are a few suggestions, from The Seasonal Home, for you to try…

First of all, because there are 4 Patriotic holidays surrounding summertime (Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Labor Day), it’s nice to have something (on display) in patriotic colors.  Here is a display of Plumbago (blue flower) and the new red shade of Vinca together.  Both are pretty heat/sun tolerant, so they are a perfect pairing for the summer.

I also love geraniums during the summer, and here they are potted on The Seasonal Home’s front porch…

Finally, here is a fun way to display flowers inside inexpensive aluminum pails, available at most DIY stores (the most reasonable I found were at Lowes) –

CLICK on photo to visit website

The creative part is using wrought iron hangers, in multiples, to display several of them in a row.

It’s CONTEST TIME again!

On my Facebook Community Page, I run contests (almost every season)  to thank everyone who “LIKES” my page.  And it’s that time again!   To enter…  simply head over to “The Seasonal Home Facebook Community Page” (see right hand column of this blog site for the link) and leave a comment on one of this week’s posts (June 12 – 17, 2011).

The prize this time is a FUN set of Patriotic Picnic Goodies!  Everything is non-breakable, so they’re safe for outdoor use.  The set includes:  a large, wavy-edge serving bowl, 4 star-shaped dessert/salad dishes, 24 WILTON Patriotic wavy-edge Cupcake Baking Cups, 12 WILTON Fun Pix Patriotic Cupcake or Food Metallic Sprays, 24 PIER ONE Metallic Patriotic Cupcake or Food Pinwheels, a Patriotic Kitchen/Grill Hand Towel with an adorable pin-striped cotton trim.  This Contest ends at midnight (EST) on June 17, 2011.  No purchase necessary and as always, I cover the postage to ship it to our lucky winner.

Good Luck and I’d like to “WELCOME” all of our new Facebook Community Page Members, in advance!

CLICK on Photo, for a larger view

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!

On this reflective holiday, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our protectors, past and present, and wish all of my readers a wonderful weekend and a…. 

A Patriotic Picnic Challenge!

[CLICK on any photo to ENLARGE]

I not only love to decorate, but also entertain on a budget.    So, I decided to challenge myself to see if I could purchase everything I needed to create a Patriotic Table-scape AND a picnic for 4, including drinks and dessert for…. are you ready… only $25!!!!

Decorations first!  I knew if I could find a source for inexpensive table linens, napkins, plates, cups, plastic silverware and decorations, this “dinner impossible” mission would be half-way there.  No problem – I purchased 98% of the items, that make up this table-scape, at the Dollar Tree, for a  total cost of only $10.00!!

All I had to add in was a cake plate, 2 candle sconces (to use in between) and a plain, white plate to create the centerpiece tower

and bring out my apothecary beverage dispenser (filled with fresh strawberries, water & ice).

Here’s what I purchased:

  • 1 White tablecloth (3/4th used for picnic table; 1/4th used for drink table)
  • 1 Pkg. Red plastic Plates
  • 1 Pkg. White Plastic Silverware
  • 1 Pkg. Red Plastic Cups
  • 2 Pkgs. coordinated napkins
  • 1 Patriotic Bunting Banner (cut apart & split between both tables edges & surfaces)
  • 1 Pkg. American Mini Flags
  • 1 pkg Pipe Cleaners
  • 1 Blue metallic mylar weight with star sprays

To create the centerpiece details, cut a 3″ star out of cardboard, coat in Elmer’s glue and red glitter and place it on a wooden (kabob) skewer.  To create the shooting sparkler look with the pipe cleaners, simply wind each one (individually) around a 1/2″ pen or marker & slide off.  Use hot glue to attach the end of these and the flags into the Blue Mylar weight. 

NEXT, The Food!  I knew that keeping the menu simple, but traditional, would help with my limited budget.  But, I also wanted to be just as creative with the food as I was with the decorations.  Starting with the burgers, I found these very cool disposable, aluminum, star-shaped, baking trays –   As you can see, their intended use is to bake star-shaped cupcakes, but I knew they would also work to make small, star-shaped burgers.  Because the burgers would be baking in their own juices, I purchased a very lean ground beef and added 1/4 of a yellow onion, and a small amount of Montreal Steak Seasoning and Italian Dressing Mix. 

For each star burger, I used 2 aluminum trays and coated them with an Olive Oil spray before adding an apx. 2″ ball of the beef mixture, which I spread into the star container, from the center out.   Next, I placed them on a cookie sheet (with sides), to which I added a little water and baked them in a 350-degree oven for apx. 15-20 minutes.  

Mixing 2 different beans, crispy bacon, BBQ sauce and brown sugar made for a yummy baked bean recipe. 

A healthy salad rounded out my main menu.  

For the beverage, I added a small container of strawberries to icy water… simple, refreshing and low cal!   Finally, I used my smallest star cookie cutter to cut star shapes from 1/2″ slices of watermelon, used a plastic star frosting tip (inserted into a cut corner of a plastic baggy) to add lite cool whip and then topped it off with a single blueberry.  [HINT:  place watermelon stars on a paper towel, after cutting, to absorb excess water until ready to serve]   Last, but not least, I coated strawberries with a small amount of white chocolate and rolled them in blue and red Pop Rocks (candy).  If you’ve never eaten Pop Rocks, they snap, crackle & pop (just like fireworks!) in your mouth, so I thought they would be a fun surprise for my guests and fit my patriotic theme perfectly!  As you can see,  my multi-level centerpiece was the perfect serving tray for both of my fruity, patriotic desserts!  I made that by combining a single cake plate with another square, white plate and I used 2 candle holders I had in between to create a multi-level serving dish.  (HINT: use a low melt hot glue gun to securely attach the risers, cake plate & square plate to each other and thereby, avoid any tipping mishaps).

So, I did it!  I stayed within my $25 budget for a Patriotic Picnic.  I’m sure you can do the same.  Enjoy your celebration!!!!

Enjoy the Creativity!

Eileen

EASY “Americana”!

Happy 4th of July!

Summer is the perfect time to sit back , relax, vacation and display your patriotic spirit!  And here  are a few ideas that will take your simple summer florals from WOW to POW, with a splash of Red, White & Blue!!

During the summer months, decorating your home with hearty red geraniums is very popular.  These flowers also look GREAT with a touch of Americana added in!

In the photos below, you will notice how nice the white door basket, white wicker planter and wrought iron wall planter look, while simply filled with red geraniums.   However, when Veteran’s, Memorial, Labor or Independence Day rolls around, simply placing a few flags in each is a wonderful way to easily add some Americana!

BEFORE - White Door Basket & Wicker Planter


While you’re at it, why not purchase an unfinished bird house (found at many craft stores) to add another quaint touch of “Easy Americana” to your seasonal display (see “AFTER – White Wicker Planter” photo – bottom shelf ). This is a great project to get the kids involved in too! If you have several neighborhood kids over this summer, why not buy small, unfinished bird houses so everyone can paint their own. FUN!

AFTER – © theseasonalhome.com

AFTER © theseasonalhome.com

Don’t forget the yard! A few flags, well placed in your garden bed, will enlarge your patriotic look, for very little cost:

©www.theseasonalhome.com

AFTER – Wrought Iron Wall Planter filled with potted red geraniums

INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION TIPS:

  • Don’t forget to play patriotic music if your party entertainment will include fireworks.  Music always sets the perfect mood.
  • Make sure to place unused, scented fabric softener sheets in ALL of your pockets to keep those pesky summer mosquitoes away.. and you’ll smell pretty darn good too… BONUS! 😉
  • Do you have an Independence Day Birthday in your family or want to bring your hostess a nice gift?  Why not use this patriotic time of year as your inspiration and wrap your gift(s) accordingly…  check out the idea I came up with.

    Patriotic Gift Wrap Idea!

    Patriotic Gift Wrap Idea! ©www.theseasonalhome.com


Design/Image/Idea copyrighted by Creative Family Traditions. All rights reserved.

VACATION TIP:

If you enjoy watching the NASA rocket launches, especially the Space Shuttle program, you may want to check out their website (www.NASA.gov) for information on the remaining launch date and consider planning a trip to the space coast of Florida before the fun is over.  I took this photo (of the Space Shuttle) across the Banana River, many miles away from the launch pad.  But, as you can see, the detail is still good.  Trust me… it is a breathtaking sight and you WILL feel the POWER of the launch!