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Star-Shaped Foods for 4th of July

Hey friends, I received an overwhelming response to my White Wine Sangria with Star-Shaped Pineapple recipe so I decided to give you a few more playful ways to let your STAR shine in your foods. All these ideas add that personal twist to your 4th of July festivities and a unique touch that leaves yours guests thinking your the next Martha Stewart :)

Do you remember the star-shaped tortilla chips I talked about for your Oscar party? They also work great for 4th of July.

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Festive Fruit Ice Cubes! I am all about the cocktail, so spark it up and add a little kick to your spirits this season. It’s simple, pick up an ice cube tray in the shape of stars, I got mine at Cost Plus, then get creative. Different fruit juices add the color and fresh fruit and herbs accent clear water for an infused taste. Also looks festive in a jug of water or in a non-alcoholic drink. My FAVE is mint stars in my mojito. Yum.

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Star-Shaped Watermelon on a Stick. It’s so simple, but adds that extra creative touch. Use a star-shaped cookie cutter and cut out the stars out of watermelon. Pick up popsicle sticks from any grocery store and  attach to the watermelon.

Fun Tip: Display in a watermelon that has been cut in half!

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Display in a bowl of fruit

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or use to garnish a cocktail

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What’s more American than Jello? See it wiggle, see it jiggle…Here’s a fun idea the kids will love.

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Please remember to…

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How to Personalize your 4th of July

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I love to personalize a party and 4th of July is around the corner, so what better way to get your party started then to put your own magic touch on your festivities, right? It’s all in the details and the sparkly touches that makes a party unique and memorable. Here are a few tips I shared this morning on Action News Now and taught Alex Backus how to get her party on. Thanks Alex for your continued support, you know I think you are DARLING!

1.  Flag Pallet- This is a super easy and fun project to do with the family, a great way to personalize your party. My daughter, Makenzi and I worked on this project together. Shipping pallets are imperfect, so there is no such thing as perfection.  In fact, the more imperfect it is, the more vintage it feels. Shipping pallets are readily available at any company that regularly receives large shipments, they are often advertised for free on places like Craig’s List. Here’s how we did it.

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First, we measured with a ruler the area we wanted to be blue.

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We sprayed the penciled area in navy blue, then rotated the rest of the pallets in red and white to create the look of the American flag,

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After we let the paint dry, we downloaded a star stencil online and began stenciling the stars on the navy blue.

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Viola! The finished product!

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2. 4th of July White Wine Sangria. TO DIE FOR! I love that it is made from my fave, white wine! It’s mine kind of patriotic punch.  Accent with fun items from both The Summer and Stars & Stripes Trunk.

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Here’s how to make it: Best White Wine Sangria you’ll ever have!

Combine Strawberries, blueberries and cookie cutter star-shaped pineapple, 2 bottles of white wine, 1/2 cup triple-sec, 1/2 cup of berry flavored vodka, 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, and 1/2 cup of simple syrup in a 3 Qt. pitcher, stir, chill and serve!

3.  Be creative with the Kid Toys! These fun windmills have a patriotic touch when placed in a nautical vase and a scoop of sand. Like I said, It’s all in the details my friends.

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4. Personalize with the Chalkboard. Everyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE my chalkboard. It’s the best way to make your party SHINE with your personality. Here’s a little of me shining on my chalkboard!

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5.  If you are feeling a little crunched for time, pick up The Stars & Stripes Trunk and everything will ship to your door ready to celebrate a festive holiday.

For more fun tips, be sure to watch “How to Personalize your 4th of July” on Action News Now.

HAPPY. HAPPY to all my friends. Much love to a safe and UNIQUE 4th of July.

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How to Hang a Starfish on a Wall

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Starfish make me SMILE! They are a great way to bring the relaxing vibe of the beach into your home. It makes for a fun summer time accent, but how the heck do you hang them on the wall? Well, Here’s my quick tutorial on how to easily hang starfish.

1.  Pick up some starfish, any size or shape works. I  like Hobby Lobby or Michael’s, they usually carry this time of year as starfish is a  trendy summer accent.  You can also find them in the Summer Trunk, which is starfish inspired! Think odd numbers, I like to hang things in 3 or 5’s.

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2  Next, you’ll need a picture frame hanger.  They are around $2 a pack and can be picked up at a craft or hardware store. Here’s what they look like.

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3. Next pull out your handy dandy glue gun

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4.  Decide which direction you would like to hang your starfish and flip it over to the backside to attach the picture hanger.

5.  Use your hot glue gun to drop a dot of glue on one of the fingers of the starfish (make sure this is the direction you would like to hang your starfish) Walk away to let the glue dry, only takes a few minutes. Go pour yourself a Mai Tai  while you are waiting to get ready for your ocean oasis.

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6.  You are now ready to hang your starfish. Position the starfish where you would like on the wall, hammer in a little tack nail and hang from the picture hook. Voila, instant vacation!

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I’ve been inspired by the starfish this week, so here’s a little of my weekly “Happy Talk.”

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Style Your Home with Beach Decor

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The Summer Trunk has just been released from Season in a Trunk.  This summer I was inspired by starfish and the nautical color of navy. I love the playfulness of starfish and the feeling of casual living on the beach. If you can’t visit the beach this summer, you might as well bring it to you! I am all about outdoor living that is comfy and has some unique touches. The pieces have to be versatile to fit into my everyday life, so I designed something that can be used indoors, outdoors, on a covered porch, poolside, or anywhere you need a little summer time accent.

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First up the inspiration behind the whole trunk, the starfish pillow. 18 inches of soft feather down, this pillow is 100% cotton and adds the touch of the beach indoors or on a covered porch. I put mine on my front porch to welcome my guests and immediately make them feel the causal vibe of summer.

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I had to include some actual starfish, these are so fun!   They hang great on a wall, nestled into your decor or placed on a tray.  3 8-10″ starfish come in each trunk.

I love how the starfish are packaged in netting, a great gift.

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Hang on a wall

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An outdoor pitcher is a must for summer time entertaining. This one is unique and is great quality.  I like to fill mine up with orange infused water for hot summer days. Tie the fringed navy napkin around the handle of the pitcher for a nautical accent.

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The metal serving tray is the most versatile piece in the summer trunk. Obviously it makes a great serving tray, but check out all my ideas on how else you can use the scallop-edged accent.

As a table charger

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As a planter for succulents

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Wanna learn more ways to decorate with beach decor? Check out my video and learn how.

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The Summer Trunk can be purchased at Season in a Trunk.  It comes artfully packaged and delivered to your door for $85, plus I would like to gift you FREE SHIPPING, your welcome :)  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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Grad Parties that GLOW

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Who doesn’t love a glow in the dark party? I think this is such a fun idea for a graduation party. It is great for all age groups and adds a bit of playful excitement to your graduation festivities.  From party favors to getting your guests to interact, here are a few crafty ideas to get your party started.

1. PARTY FAVORS-  You are headed for a bright future! Pick up a light bulb container at a local crafts store, Michael’s is my favorite. Fill up the light bulb with some neon skittles or M&M’s, any neon candy will do.  Make a fun sign with neon ink and attach to the light bulb with baker’s twine.  A festive and easy party favor for your graduation party.

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2. CENTERPIECES-Neon Vases- Head to the Dollar Store and pick up some inexpensive clear vases.  Fill them up with water and add a few drops of neon acrylic paint.  You could use either silk or real flowers. I prefer live flowers, a big white dahlia might be fun, it would help make the neon colors pop!

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3. CAKE TABLE- Make the cake table SPARKLE! Super Simple. Use an old Patron bottle  ( depending on the age of the graduate :) ) or any interesting shaped vase.   Light the sparklers and watch the cake table glow. This easy craft adds a celebratory vibe that is so magical.

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4. BALLOONS- Get your neon on!  I love these balloons, so festive and super easy! All you need is neon tape and stickers from any office supply store, attach to white helium balloons. Pick up some variegated neon string from any craft store, again I like Michael’s, attach to the balloon for your glow in the dark fun.

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5. FUN ACTIVITY- Glow in the Dark Hula Hoops!!! What grad would not love this? Have a hula hoop contest to get the guests into the theme and interacting with each other. Again, it’s pretty simple, all you have to do is get neon tape from any craft store and tape around the hula hoop. BOOM… instant fun!

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Light up your party and have a NEON GRAD DAY!

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Top 10 Graduation Ideas

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We are in the season of Graduation, it does not matter if it is college, high school or even preschool, it is always a special time to celebrate the achievements of hardworking individuals. This year I have two graduates, my daughter from junior high and my son from preschool. I am getting very familiar with graduation parties as last year my oldest son graduated from high school and my other daughter from junior high. So, I thought I’d share a few ideas to help make your graduation festivities a little more memorable.

1. My absolute favorite book! It does not matter what age you are, this book will be a tear to your eye.

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2.  A brilliant photo idea. Attach photos to balloons to create the story of the graduates journey to success.

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3.  Flowers are a necessity at any party. This is a simple and fun idea. Use a clear vase, I prefer the hobnail jars, but these work great too. Tie a chalkboard tag to the vase and label the graduating year.

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4.  Chalkboard banner. I use mine all the time.  Write a special saying, I’ve used…We LOVE THE GRAD.

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5.  Diploma Cookies. Thank you Oh Sugar Events for this great idea. I also love the Cinnamon Honor Rolls. Getting creative with food.

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6. Surprise the grad with breakfast in bed with the brunch trunk.  Write special notes to the grad  in chalk on the slate serving tray, loaded up with their favorite pastries. Fill the hobnail jars up with juice and maybe flowers in the white bucket. The chalkboard tags attach to just about anything and gives you the opportunity to leave them sweet little notes.

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7.  Who doesn’t love candy rings? What a a fun idea to load up candy rings in a big dish and label them “Class Rings”

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8. Love this idea for a graduation party – You can then sit around a table and play Jenga, and each time you pull a memory out, you can have the guest explain the memory and why it is so meaningful.

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9.  We all know our kids are totally into Instagram. So why not be part of their world with this idea.

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10. I am all about the photo booth. This is a playful way to get people to connect and create lasting memories. Fun props are a must!

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Happy Graduation to all your loved ones! Make the most out of their special day.

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Your Memorial Day Menu

I want to make things a little easier for you this Memorial Day, so I went ahead and planned your menu for you. I compiled my favorite recipes that are Memorial Day festive and a great kick off to summer living.

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Cocktail of Choice: 

Star Spangled Sangria- Sangria makes me smile. This is a great cocktail to kick off your party and light some fireworks.  I especially love that this Sangria recipe is made with white wine instead of red.

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Ingredients

pineapple- cut into star shapes.

strawberries

blueberries

4 oz vodka

2 oz triple sec

1 bottle of white wine

2 oz of simply syrup

Appetizer

Tortellini Kabobs- The bright red tomatoes accent your red, white and blue theme.

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Ingredients
Cheese Tri-color Tortellini-Cooked
Grape tomatoes
Fresh Mozzarella balls marinaded in oil and herbs.
Wood Skewers
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh chopped parsley (optional)
Main Dish
Fancy Hot Dogs. It would not be American without a hot dog, but if you are anything like me, you have to gourmet it up a bit. Thank you Bon Appetit for these fun recipes.
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The Dogs

Garlic Mojo Hot Dogs

Muffuletta Hot Dogs

Hot Dogs with Poblanos, Pepper Jack, and Tomatillo

Hot Dogs with Dal and Red-Onion Raita

Beer-Braised Hot Dogs with Braised Sauerkraut

Grilled Hot Dogs with Mango Chutney and Red Onion Relish

Manchego Cheese and Garlic Dogs

Harissa-Onion Dogs with Preserved-Lemon Relish

Cheddar Dogs with Cider-Braised Leeks and Apples

The Toppings

Tricolor Pepper Relish

Pickled Baby Squash

Cauliflower Chowchow

Pickled Peppers

Quick-Pickled Onions

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Dessert
Stars and Stripes Cheesecake Shots- Serious YUM!
Recipe by Carrie Sellman
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Ingredients:

4 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup + 1T sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tub (8 oz.) Cool Whip, thawed
8 to 10 graham cracker sheets, finely crushed
Fresh Berries

Instructions:

  1. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until smooth.  Gently stir in cool whip until well blended.
  2. Fill individual glasses half way with cream cheese mixture, either using a spoon or a piping bag fitted with a large round tip for a more polished presentation.  Top with 1 tsp graham cracker crumbs.  Shake glass to level crumbs.  Fill to the top with more of the cream cheese mixture.
  3. Lightly sprinkle with additional graham cracker crumbs and top with berries.  Add a star pastry for an extra fun little touch.
  4. Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm.  Serve chilled.  Makes roughly 16 mini servings, depending on the size of your serving glass.
I hope this made your day a little easier. Have a delicious and indulgent Memorial Day!

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The Memorial Day Party Guide

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We are gearing up for Memorial Day weekend, also known as the kick off weekend to summer living! So it’s time to dust off the patio furniture, pull out the red, white and blue and pay our respects to the men and women who have fought for our country.  So, as most Americans do, let’s throw a party!  Here’s my quick guide to making your memorial weekend extra special, let the 3 day weekend begin.

Here’s my Checklist:

Party Prep

  • Plan your guest list. Send out the Evite. Online invitations are a quick way to get the job done.  I especially love how easy it is to send out last minute reminders and track RSVP’s.
  • Check the weather forecast to plan for bad (or amazing) weather.
  • Plan the location. Make sure there is plenty of room to house all your guests.  I prefer to party outdoors for Memorial Day as it lends to outdoor BBQ’s and all American fun.

Decorations

  • Think red, white and blue!  Red napkins and red Solo cups are a perfect pop of color.  Use navy blue paper plates and plastic utensils tied up with a navy stripe ribbon  to accent your decor.  Place in a bright white bucket to keep everything together and uniquely organized.
  • American flags, hanging lights, tiki torches, floating candles, and paper lanterns are great for setting the mood of the party.
  • Running out of time? Get the Stars & Stripes trunk, everything you need to host an all American party.
  • Use simple flowers like daisies, cut them short, and place them in mason jars for a little southern feel.
  • Balloons, streamers and pinatas add decoration and double as party activities for the kids.

Pillows are a great way to add texture and a pop of color to your event!

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Food

  • Party rule #1: Ice, ice, and more ice
  • Typical BBQ always does the trick (hamburgers, hotdogs) is always delicious, but you can also try ribs, pork tenderloin, chicken, and a grilled vegetable assortment.
  • I love supplying the main dish and having my guests bring their favorite red, white and blue dish!  A fun idea is skewering blueberries,strawberries and mini chocolate brownies on a shish kabob stick.
  • Stock the cooler and beverage station with plenty to drink: ice cold water, lemonade, soda and adult beverages keep the partiers happy and refreshed!
  • When setting the menu, plan to have food for vegetarians as well.
  • Sides like veggies, fruits, salads, chips, dips, and desserts like cookies, brownies, and cupcakes are convenient. Be mindful of the weather – you don’t want anything sitting out in the hot sun that could spoil or melt.
  • If possible, place food under a covering such as an umbrella or overhang.
  • Set up food buffet-style and arrange plates and utensils at the start of the line to keep it moving quickly.
  • Have separate seasoning and beverage stations with condiments and such to avoid delays in the buffet line.
  • Stock plenty of napkins at the drink station, along with stirrers and straws.

Festive Party Straws tie the look together!

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Set up

  • Move indoor furniture outside for additional surface space and seating. Benches, chairs, stools, and side tables are versatile.
  • Have clearly labeled trash and recycle cans.
  • Leave sunscreen and bug spray out for guests to use.
  • Have plenty of umbrellas or canopy tents for shade.
  • Lay rugs or outdoor pillows on the ground for additional seating.
  • I love having a basket of throws available in case it gets a little chilly.
  • Be eco-friendly with reusable plates.  I love Susty party, they have festive colors!
  • Make sure to have outdoor activities for kids, Stencil Stars is one of my favorites.
Now get to it! It’s time to plan a party and pay tribute to our American heroes.

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Last minute Cinco de Mayo fiesta tips

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Happy Cinco de Mayo! A week of preparation and the day is finally here, we are ready to fiesta like there is no manana!

Normally, I have my whole party planned but I always find myself scrambling for just a few last minute details I discover on Pinterest the morning of my party.

Here are some of my absolute favorites that I could not throw a fiesta without:

Sombrero Sugar Cookies

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As if the dessert table wasn’t festive enough, I had to add these cute cookies into the mix. Have a sombrero cookie decorating contest or prep them before to scatter throughout the table with the oreo tacos! 

Chalkboard Art

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Who knew a simple chalkboard could add so much to a party?! No matter the occasion we are thanking the home decor gods for this accent piece. Use it as a sign in your yard or to label the food.

Glass Bottle Sodas + Sombreros= OLE!

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I love the look and taste of glass bottle soda. I’m not sure what it is but soda out of a glass bottle tastes 110% better to me. Pair with mini sombrero toppers for a festive accent that is sure to pop!

Perfect Place Settings

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With all this talk about food and party decor it is easy to over look the table settings. I’m adding spice to my table by labeling each seat with a hot pepper! The green pepper accents pair perfectly with the bright colors on the table!

Pinata Napkins

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Never underestimate the power of a clever napkin. This one is HILARIOUS and perfect to pair with a tequila bar.

I would LOVE to see how your fiesta turns out so please share images with me!

Taco bout a party! Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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