Monthly Archives: June 2010

How to Throw a Great & Less Stressful 4th of July Party

Guest post by: Sarah Kolbasowski

Want to throw a great party this Fourth of July? Here are five tips to help you in your quest.

1. Prepare!

We all know how it is: You wake up the day of your 4th of July party and you feel as if nothing is done, nothing is ready and nothing is going to be ready by the time your guests start arriving. This is why the Boy Scouts know the best tip of all – be prepared! There are many things that can be done before the actual day of the party. If you have any food prep, do it the day before and refridgerate. Marinate your meats and chickens overnight for a great taste and less stress in the morning. If you’re getting a keg, order it ahead of time so it’s waiting for you when you get to the store. Pick up any other alcohol and do any other shopping (plates, bowls, snacks, etc) in the days leading up to the party. If you have a pool, keep up with the maintenance so you’re not stuck vacuuming it at 9:00am on the day of. You may be the one throwing the party, but you don’t have to miss it!

2. Throw yourself into the theme.

Hey, this is America, right? Land of the free? So free yourself! You don’t have to have the same old party bowls for your chips – how about making it into a fun project and painting them red, white and blue ahead of time? Give your games up to theme too. You can give away sparklers to the kids who do well playing volleyball or you can make special drinks for the adults playing horseshoes. (For more on my signature special drink for the 4th, see #4) You can even pick songs like “America” by John Cougar, “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen or “Kids in America” by Kim Wilde and make mix cds or playlists to play throughout your 4th of July party.

3. Get a good chef!

Chances are, you’re probably grilling at this 4th of July party. And if that’s true, you’re going to want to get someone to help out who knows his/her way around the grill. This is something else you can take care of ahead of time – ask your friends and family for volunteers and then narrow it down to someone you think can multitask but who also will not get frustrated standing at the grill for long periods of time. You can also pick a few different people, if they’re available, and have them take shifts so that everyone gets to enjoy your fabulous 4th of July party. Also, on the same note, if you think you’ll need a bartender, get one! Many college students with experience are looking for summer work and will offer reasonable rates. Craig’s List is often a good resource for this kind of search.

4. Have recipes that are different but still American and 4th of July ready.

Hey, you might really like a dirty martini, but how many of those do you think you’ll be serving on the 4th of July? Make it fun! Below, find three full proof, 4th of July recipes – one for dinner, one for dessert and one for drinks!

The Red, White and Blue Margarita
Sugar the rim of a glass or a cup with red sugar. (You can do this by dipping the rim in lime juice and then in the sugar to make it stick). Make frozen margaritas – 2 oz tequila, 1/2 oz triple sec for each one, fill with sour mix and ice and blend. Split the frozen margarita into three cups. Blend one third with strawberries to make red. Pour it into the bottom of the glass. Layer another third (plain, white margarita) on top of the red. Then blend the final third with blueberries or just color with 1/2 oz of Blue Curacao and layer the blue on top. You now have a red, white and blue margarita! (This one is my own personal recipe).

The Brew Burger
1-1/2 lb ground beef
4 slices sweet onion
4 slices Swiss cheese
4 crusty white or whole wheat rolls, split lettuce

Brew Sauce:
1/4 C beer
1/4 C prepared steak sauce

Serves 4

In 1-cup glass measure, combine sauce ingredients. Cover and microwave on HIGH 1 to 1-1/2 minutes or until bubbly; set aside (you could alternately heat ingredients on a stove top).

Lightly shape ground Beef into four 3/4″-thick patties. Place patties and onion on grill over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, uncovered, 13 to 15 minutes or until centers of patties are no longer pink and onions are tender, turning occasionally. Season burgers with salt if desired, after turning.

Approximately 2 minutes before burgers are done, brush generously with sauce and top with cheese.

Easy Flag Cake
2 pints of strawberries
1 recipe of your favorite white or yellow cake (mix or from scratch, your choice)
1 1/3 C of blueberries
1 tub of whipped topping

Serves 12

ix up and bake your favorite cake mix or recipe. Let cool.

Slice 1 cup of strawberries, set aside. Halve remaining strawberries, set aside.

Top cake (in pan) with 1 cup sliced strawberries, 1 cup blueberries and all of the whipped topping. Arrange remaining strawberry halves and blueberries on whipped topping to create a flag design. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

5. Finally, find some good fireworks!
It can’t be that hard to find fireworks on the 4th of July – they’re pretty much everywhere. If there are 4th of July fireworks in your local area, consider moving the party to the site and giving everyone a great ending to their 4th. If you live in a state where fireworks are legal for residents, try getting a few friends to help you stage a show of your own. And if you don’t want to leave and fireworks are illegal in your state, use technology! Shows the Macy’s fireworks display on a big screen TV or the Disney fireworks on a projection screen in your backyard.

Hopefully, these tips will help you to enjoy your own 4th of July while helping others to as well. Remember, the most important part is to celebrate America, have fun on a day off from work, and enjoy a lovely summer day!

Celebrating the Coastal Lifestyle

Let There Be Light!

Lighting in our homes is a very important element, both decor-wise and practicality-wise. I’m constantly on the lookout for lighting ideas for my entryway and master bedroom and I found these two great projects.

A newly discovered blog, Flea Market Trixie, blew me away with this chandelier.  She found this old brass chandelier for 5.00 at a garage sale. A bit of acrylic paint and crystals turned it into FABULOUS!  Visit her site for full details of this transformation.

$5.00 Garage Sale Chandelier
From garage sale purchase to elegant chandelier! What a lovely bedroom.

Inspired by Pottery Barn is what first caught me eye about this project! The Hand Me Down House  purchased a hanging lamp for $15.00 from a Craigslist ad and transformed it into a Pottery Barn look-alike which retails for $269.00 in their catalog. Well done!!  The before photo looks so much like my ugly entry light, which I’ve been yearning to replace, that this project is now on our official to-do list. Full project details:

The Craigslist “before” lighting fixture


Transformation complete! Isn’t it wonderful?

Join us at these Blog PARTIES!

Celebrating the Coastal Lifestyle

Vintage Shutter equals Wall Art!?

We just love this project from Better Homes & Gardens. Think outside the frame when you need your next piece of artwork.

Here a refinished vintage shutter was transformed into a savvy place to display photos, postcards, and clippings.  Cottage style and old shutters are naturals together. Try hanging shutters horizontally for displaying photographs, postcards, letters, and clippings.

If years of paint and weathering prevent your louvers from closing tightly enough to hold the papers, use a small piece of double-stick tape to keep items in place.

Celebrating the Coastal Lifestyle

Time for some Fun in the Sun

Now that Summer has officially arrived, are you looking for a little fun in the sun? Take a break from your hectic schedule and spend a day at the beach where you can rest, relax and energize your spirit. All you need are a few beach essentials that will help you wile away the time lounging under the sun. Half the battle is making sure you have everything you need in your beach bag. Once you pack up your gear, you are ready to enjoy the ocean breezes and sounds of the surf.

If you’re like us, you have a large ‘beach bag’ (or several) that you love to use each summer. We recently found this handmade Sailboat Tote at Lemon Tree Lane’s store. This bag has a large inside pocket to hold all of your summer supplies. It’s fun, has a vintage feel and is just splendid!

A must-have for trips to the Beach or around town!

While searching for new and adorable beach totes we stumbled upon these Shell Bags by Suzy Q’s! These are perfect for kids…or grand kids (oh, heck – we want one!). These mesh bottom shell collecting bags with cotton material on top are perfect for picking up those little treasures on the beach and leaving the sand behind. You can see all the fun things that you have collected.  You get to choose to have the word “Shells”, a name or other beachy word embroidered on each bag.  We think they’re Fabulous!

Collect seashells in style!

Why not liven up your summer with a personalized beach towel from The Laughing Giraffe?! These towels are much larger than most standard beach towels. They completely cover the length and width of a standard lounge chair!! Each towel is personalized so there’s no more having fights over whose towel is whose. These are a Must-Have!!

Large, lush & personalized Beach Towels by The Laughing Giraffe!

Now that you’ve got your Beach Tote, Shell Collecting Bag and Beach Towel you’re just about set to head to the beach. Here’s a handy checklist for all those little items that may slip your mind.
Beach Survival Checklist

•___ sunscreen & lip balm(at least 15 SPF)
•___ first aid kit
•___ flip flops
•___ good book
•___ sun hat and sunglasses
•___ beach umbrella
•___ chairs and/or blanket
•___ pail & shovel
•___ Nerf© type ball and/or lightweight nylon Frisbee disc
•___ sand digger and sifter
•___ goggles or masks
•___ plastic jar for collecting shells
•___ life jackets
•___ towels (and extras)
•___ bottled water
•___ snacks (if allowable)
•___ extra clothing and footwear
•___ water/swim shoes
•___ camera
•___ long-sleeved shirt & thin pair of pants. When the sun goes down, the beach tends to cool off considerably.

Important Reminders:

**Leave valuables at home. Sun and sand can wreak havoc on expensive jewelry, clothes and electronics.

**Always wear sunscreen at the beach, reapplying it generously every two to three hours and after swimming.

**Be aware of potential dangers associated with swimming in the ocean. Be sure to discuss water safety with your kids before going.

**Preserving Nature: remember, if you find live snails, crabs, fish, starfish, or other underwater lifeforms, observe them, then put them back. Only take home empty shells, fossilized starfish, and rocks. Enjoy your trip to the beach.

Have a wonderful day at the beach and a great weekend!

Celebrating the Coastal Lifestyle

What’s on your Head?

Sunshine….we all love it; however there are some well known drawbacks to being in it.  Aside from the heat, doctors tell us that excessive exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays can lead to skin cancer as well as premature aging. What’s the solution? How about some fun, funky and stylish sun hats?

*According to Gian Fiero, “Women can create a stylish alter ego with the use of hats to showcase spunk, playfulness, attitude, flair, or sophistication.  When coordinated properly, hats can bring both personality and distinction to any ensemble while creating a new look for you. People who are slim with oval faces, tend to look best in what’s known as “skinny” brims, while those with more corpulent bodies, can wear wider brims with greater appeal.”

We’ve compiled some fun styles for your perusal and with all of these great options, there’s no reason to get a sunburn this season.

Sun Grubbies – Offers a complete line of UV protected hats, clothing, gloves and more.

Two of the hot designer accessory trends for this year are metallic and buckles. The Metallica Sun Hat is made with metallic threads that give a subtle shine to this trendy woman’s hat.

Metallica Sun Hat

The Tiffany hat is a maximum UV protection women’s hat that is sturdy enough for a walk along the beach or working in the garden, yet stylish enough to wear to a garden tea party. This sun hat has a straw-like look and we just love it!

Tiffany Sun Hat

Oooo la la, you won’t be missed in this outfit-making sun hat with an amazing 7 1/2″ brim. The wide, floppy brim is soooooo wide it actually shades your shoulders.

Samantha Travel Hat – Available in Bright or Pastel Coloration

Is it a hat? or is it a sun visor? The Zip Off Crown Sun Visor is both! This unique sun visor hat has a zip off crown to give you either option. Soft wide brim wraps around the head to shade the face and ears.

The company, Coolibar, also offers Sun Protective Clothing for the entire family! Their sun hats, UPF clothing and sun protection swimwear were the first garments recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation.

A stylish wide brim hat in not-so-basic black. The Horizon Sun Hat is cut from cool cotton canvas, then dressed up with overlapping metallic embroidered rings. You’ll love this sun hat for its dramatic look—and its feather-light feel.

Horizon Sun Hat

Like your women’s sun hats on the snazzy side? The Linen Daisy Hat offers the same silhouette as the popular Everyday Hat, plus elegant tonal embroidery that gives it a more dressed-up look.

Linen Daisy Hat

Go ahead—take sides! The Reversible Sun Hat offers two looks in one: solid with a pretty print band, or an all-over floral print. This is our favorite hat of them all!

Reversible Sun Hat

Searching for a beach hat that’ll work with anything in your wardrobe? The Sedona Hat is a natural choice, made from a durable weave that lends a dash of texture to your look.

The Sedona

Searching for a shapeable wide brim hat that can safely take you from pool deck to patio party—and everywhere in between? The Shapeable Poolside Sun Hat offers the largest canopy of shade in their hat lineup. The wired brim allows you to customize your coverage according to the position of the sun.

Shapeable Poolside Sun Hat

A sun visor is a smart choice for golf or any outdoor activity. The big brim in front shades your face, then tapers at the sides so you have a clear view. This adorable visor is available in ten colors!

Classic Sun Visor

Talk about fun in the sun. The printed canvas Tiki Sun Hat has an over sized brim to shade your skin, plus protective features galore. Like all Coolibar sun hats, it’s designed to provide superior UV coverage—and style to spare.

Tiki Sun Hat

Just for fun we stopped by the Jessica Simpson Collection and Old Navy…although they aren’t UV protected fabrics they will still provide some shade for your face and you’ll be very stylish while doing so. 


Oversize Floppy Hat from the Jessica Simpson Collection

Meet the crowning achievement of your summer wardrobe! Old Navy offers this colorful ombré-hued straw and a beaded raffia-string tie create a hat that’s perfect for the beach or your own backyard.

Beaded Ombre Straw Hat – Available in two colors

Here I am wearing one of my favorite hats. This pink hat with wide brim works great while I’m gardening and its made out of a light weave so it stays cool. Best of all, it was a birthday gift from my dearly departed Mom.

So, what’s on your head this summer? 

Celebrating the Coastal Lifestyle

**Read more about wearing hats from Gian Fiero

Protect the Ocean

“Protect the ocean and you protect yourself”
Jean-Michel Cousteau

Jean-Michel Cousteau describes a colorful dive off the Pacific Northwest where cold, nutrient rich water helps support a rich ecosystem with an abundance of sealife. He describes encounters with giant Pacific octopus, wolf eels, sunflower sea stars, a rat fish, pink scallops. a cockle, a strawberry anemone, a matridium anemone, shiner surf perch, bull kelp, and a hermit crab. Jean-Michel says he loves diving in cold water environments because he loves the amount of colorful sea life that can be seen there.

The mission of Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society is to explore our global ocean, inspiring and educating people throughout the world to act responsibly for its protection, documenting the critical connection between humanity and nature, and celebrating the ocean’s vital importance to the survival of all life on our planet.

Celebrating the Coastal Lifestyle