(4th of July sign designed by tomkat studio)
Living in Canada for the past 16 years has not diminished my desire to celebrate certain American holidays...namely American Thanksgiving and the 4th of July! Something about the tride and true Red, White and Blue still gets me excited to celebrate.
This year was no exception, and it was a chance to do something I have been wanting to do for many years. I grew up in the United States with an appreciation for the men and women that serve the country. I had friends and relatives who were in the military and at these times I was reminded of the importance of their selfless contributions. Upon moving to Canada in 1995, I realized the many benefits of living in another free country.
Since working on Forty 4 Change I am even more aware of individuals or organizations that need help, recognition, appreciation, encouragement and support. Service men and women are no exception. I love throwing a little 4th of July celebration each year.....a few red, white and blue decorations, a BBQ, some star spangled music, and themed desserts! On a whim I decided that this year's BBQ should have a bit more purpose.
Through a quick brainstorm with friends we thought about showing our support to U.S. and Canadian soldiers by writing letters of thanks. So I quickly invited a few families to share in some 4th of July festivities and asked that each family make a card, write a letter of thanks, or draw a picture and bring it to the BBQ. I would then mail these letters and cards to two organizations I found online: Anysoldier.com and Canadian Forces Morale Mail.
The only rule of the day.....
wear RED, WHITE, and BLUE!
Even though this was a fairly impromptu gathering, I wanted to make it fun and special and memorable for everyone. The red, white and blue overload was fantastic! Bare with me on the number of photos but it was just too fun to leave out any of the details....
These homemade pinwheels (find the printable file here) were a breeze to make! My daughter, Fleur, helped me put them together and they spun like crazy in the wind. I put brown kraft paper on the tables along with red, white and blue crayons and colored pencils so the kids could draw and be creative!
The weather was beautiful and a perfect setting for a little festive fun.
A friend provided me with the name of the fabulous new Little Red Kitsch'n! Jenna Durling has a stand at the market on Saturdays and Sundays and my friend was raving about her food! So I decided to test her out for the BBQ. She made incredible brisket, that disappeared in minutes and she was extremely accommodating with my request for cupcakes to match my color scheme. Not only were they beautiful but they tasted amazing! Red velvet cupcakes and lemon with blueberry icing....yum yum!
What's a 4th of July BBQ without desserts? I got a bit carried away with all the themed goodies, but I just couldn't help it!
I know to head over to my favorite party stylist for inspiration when trying to tie up the details of any party, and with the last minute nature of this "little" gathering I knew that Kim of The Tomkat Studio would not fail me. The cute cupcake toppers were part of her 4th of July collection.
Martha Stewart was the inspiration for these fireworks cookies. This seemingly simple white frosted cake had a hidden treasure inside! Check out the "how to" at Glorious Treats.
White chocolate cake bark! Need I say more? This was an accidental creation that turned out fabulous.
Red, white and blue fruit parfaits in little mason jars made us all feel we were choosing the healthy dessert....
Getting this shot of all the kids around the table was a miracle...all they wanted to do was dig in eagerly to all the treats!
The sweet cupcake liners came from my favorite online cupcakery store, Shop Sweet Lulu.
After everyone had enjoyed firsts and seconds from the overload of goodies I suddenly remembered my flag cake in the refrigerator! It is a childhood favorite (my mom made this simple creation for us all the time!) that I have turned into a 4th of July tradition.
My daughter, Blythe, entertained the kids with a little face (hand) painting...
....friends wrapped themselves in a little patriotism...
....the evening was complete with the lighting of sparklers!
It was a really wonderful celebration and when everything was cleaned up and I had a moment to sit and look through all the drawings and cards and special notes, I knew the true meaning of our gathering.....
We were able to mail two large brown envelopes of cards and special notes to U.S. soldiers and Canadian soldiers using AnySoldier and Canadian Morale Mail. The AnySoldier website provides addresses for specific soldiers who have signed on to receive support. Letters are the most treasured form of support but packages are also welcome. Most of these service men and women are lacking the regular, daily products we take for granted each day.
The day after our 4th of July celebration I received an email from my mother with the link to a short video made by a 15 year old girl titled, Remember Me. It was a beautiful reminder of the importance of remembering....
Watch for postings on the Alzheimer's Gala we attended, my recent blood donation, and the upcoming Forty 4 Change Blood Drive on September 15th! If you are local, mark your calendars.