Monday, June 17, 2013

A Red, White and Blue Birthday

While so many holidays seem to be becoming over the top extravaganzas, something about the Fourth of July still makes one want to return to more simple pleasures: backyard parties with classic picnic fare, ooohing and aaahing over local fireworks from a grassy field, and of course the summertime children's favorite, catching (and releasing) fireflies. So with a few unfussy and budget friendly supplies, it's easy to create these projects just right for celebrating America's birthday.

Festive Fourth Candy Cones

I love the idea of adapting a simple project to different occasions. Decorative paper cones are inexpensive and easy-to-make accents that can be dressed up for a variety of celebrations. Recently I created some traditional flower filled versions for my May Day post but they are also a classic adornment on Victorian Christmas trees or can be romantically decked out with lace and cupids for Valentine's Day. This year, using some vintage patriotic flare, I thought they would make fun decor for a Fourth of July picnic or perhaps filled with some small goodies and candy treats, sent home with guests as party favors.

You'll Need:
Paper party hats and any assorted "bling"
(I found at the garland, beads and hats at my Dollar Store:)
Vintage Patriotic image printables
Decorative papers
hot glue
Simply cover party hats with colorful decorative paper and patriotic images. 
Top off with garland and fun accents. Anything goes! 
 If you like an exact fit, hats can be "disassembled" and used as templates to trace around.

I found hot glue was the best way to add the tinsel trim. Also using hot glue, I attached ribbon or bead strands for sturdier hanging. The elastic string originally used to hold it on your head won't support it.

vintage images and more muted tones lend an old fashioned air
Before you head to the craft store try digging through odds and ends you might already have in your craft drawer which will work with the theme: sparkly red, gold or silver Christmas stars and tinsel or white faux flowers leftover from a wedding shower also work perfectly for the Fourth.
Fill with simple goodies

 sheet music image http://freepages.military.roots

Aunt Christine's Watermelon Cake

While traditional fruit pies and ice cream are de rigueur for the Fourth, many guests with food sensitivities or dietary restrictions miss out on what I often feel is the best part of a meal: dessert. Taking advantage of perfectly ripe summer melons and berries, this cake is simply an assembly of colorful fruits which can be served with an accompanying sweet sauce or whipped cream. You can find a variety of watermelon cake ideas online but, without bias of course, my Aunt Christine's is one of the best.

Food allergies prompted the invention of this healthy and delicious culinary creation, now a family birthday tradition.
"Cakes" above, by Christine Smith

I adapted one for the Fourth with a star theme
You'll Need:
Seasonal Fruits including melons and berries
Fresh Mint
cookie cutters and sharp knife
decorative toppers if desired
fresh ingredients mean no need to turn on the oven.
I used a smaller watermelon for a modest size "cake" but for a crowd a jumbo one would fit the bill
Trim rind from melons creating "tiers". 
Don't worry about cracks or imperfections they can be camouflaged later.
fruit shapes can be cut with cookie cutters or a small sharp knife.
 Christine recommends assembling cake without toothpicks to avoid any unpleasant trips to the ER
Mine looked a little more "Leaning Tower" than cake, so I had to trim edges to even out.
The opening in the cantaloupe was perfect for filling berries, or if watermelon is the top tier, simply scoop out a shallow "bowl"

Aunt Christine's Pennywise tip:
 Combine the leftover "less than perfect" cuts of fruit and extra berries into a colorful fruit salad to enjoy later
Serve With:
*For healthy options, Christine recommends mixing non-fat yogurt with "Allfruit" or any natural seedless jam or agave nectar.
*For a  splurge use real whipped cream with vanilla and maple syrup added to taste  
*Of course there is always old fashioned ice cream or rice or soy ice creams as well
*For a grown-up kick you can douse with a little vodka or tequila!

Firefly Globes
My fancies are fireflies,
Specks of living light
twinkling in the dark
                                            Rabindranath Tagore

Who doesn't fondly remember chasing fireflies on summer evenings, mason jars in hand, hoping to trap their enchanting glow if even for a few minutes. Of course due to their short life span in captivity we were then forced release them back into the night, avoiding trauma for all involved.
While still a delightful pastime, for a more permanent and firefly-friendly option, or for those in climates not conducive to these unique insects, there is a fun faux version that can be assembled with a few basic supplies. There are several ideas online here's my version.

You'll Need:
Glass globes, Mason jars or other clear container
craft moss
twigs or leaves, if desired 
flameless votives
glow in the dark paints

For extra dazzle, spritz the back of globes with a light mist of Glow in the dark spray paint and let dry. Attach sheer ribbon or fishing line as hanger. Dab globes, moss, leaves and small twigs with dots of glow in the dark paint and allow to dry
Cover votives with small pieces of moss- you may have to poke flame part of votive through moss sheet for visibility. Place in globe and add more moss to camouflage votive.
If desired add twigs, leaves or accents and wait until dark!
*note: when removing votive to turn on and off, moss can get messy. I try to slide it out altogether onto a paper towel and turn it on from the bottom and replace.
 by Day
by night: as you can see they are challenging to photograph well.

For a more traditional look, use the same process substituting a mason jar for the globes. You can add two or three votives depending on size. For authenticity, I replaced the lid liner with breathable burlap (perfect if you plan to add real fireflies to the scene) and topped with red ribbon.

Thanks for featuring this post on 

and as party of the day on

Wishing everyone a Happy fun filled 
Fourth of July!
and to our friends and followers from other countries, 
Happy Summer!