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Saturday, June 26, 2010

4th of July decorations...

Make sure you check out you local Targets and Walmarts.  They usually have the $1 bins near the front and right now they are full of patriotic items...go out and buy some for today's World Cup Match against Ghana, and then you can reuse them for you 4th of July BBQs!  Let us know what you find!

Savvy Ideas to decorate with what you have (or easily get):
  • You know you all have them...unused vases.  Fill them with all the super yummy summer fruits, that also, conveniently, are patriotic colors:  blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Guests can scoop the berries out and add whipped cream or Cool Whip (for those who are allergic to dairy) for a truly red, white, and blue treat!
  • Use different-shaped vases to hold dips and chips as well. These make great centerpieces as well as unique serving dishes.
  • Mix and match red, white, and blue solid paper products and plastic ware.
  • Roll butcher paper out onto your party table. Scatter red, white, and blue crayons across the table for the kids to color with while eating.
  • Sprinkle red, white, and blue confetti and candies around the table.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

All American Barbeque Menu

This is the menu for my 4th of July BBQ.  It is a lot of food. The key to a good BBQ is good food and I aim to please. It is enough to keep people fed from lunch time through midnight. It even accommodates our vegetarian friends.

I would like to say that there is some magic formula for deciding on a menu. The truth is that Shelley and I LOVE to eat. And now three cheers for denial: hip, hip, hooray. Thanks to all the clothing manufacturer’s new size charts an 8 is now a 6 and a 10 is now an 8. So even though my waist is bigger, the label still says 8 and that is all that matters. (Seriously, I am trying to decide whether to use my real size or my internet profile size in the preceding sentence and I might just break out in hives before I post this.) Anyway, I selfishly plan every menu around what I want to eat. Then, I add my friend’s favorites—the corn and herb butter is for Bubba, my son requested the cookies and the Mac and Cheese is for my Darling Husband who insists on eating it for every occasion, even Christmas Dinner.

To minimize the hassle of shopping and to spread out the expense, I prepare my menu early and break up the shopping trips. OK, the truth is that I have a 2 year old and trips to the grocery store are no longer my friend. I have to get in and get out fast. This week I purchased things from the local warehouse club—plates, napkins, citronella candles, soda, bottled water, etc. Next week I will hit the grocery store to purchase the non-perishables. The week of the 4th I will get the rest.

I make extra sure to maintain proper holding temperatures throughout the day. Do not make food and leave it out at room temperature all day. Hot foods should be held above 140 degrees and cold food should be held below 41 degrees.
Hot Dogs

Corn on the Cob with herb butter
Baked Beans
Macaroni and Cheese
Louisiana Garlic Bread

Potato Salad
Broccoli Salad
Fruit Salad

Chips and Salsa
Veggie Tray and Dip

Sweet Tea

Pie Alamode
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happing eating!

Games to play during your BBQ

Water Relay
This is especially fun on those hot summer days!

Items needed:
Bucket of water-1 per team
Large sponges-1per team
Empty 1 gallon plastic milk jug 1 per team
  • Split players into two or more teams.
  • Set the buckets of water on one side of the course with the sponges in the bucket. 
  • Place the milk jug at the opposite end of the course.
  • The players then squeezes the water into the jug and then runs back to pass the sponge to the next player. This continues until the first jug is full. 
The object is to be the first team to fill the milk jug with water using only the sponge. Players take turns soaking the sponge with water and then running to the milk jug.

Savvy Tip: Adding a little food coloring in the jug will help the racers see the water line.

Old Fashioned Sack Race
These are great fun. My sons actually had one of these during their field day this year, and was a huge hit with kids, parents and teachers.

Items needed:
Burlap sacks
Savvy Tip:  If you have a feed supply store near by, burlap sacks can be purchased inexpensively.
If all else fails, old pillow cases will work.

Each player steps into his/her sack with both feet.
Pull the sack high enough to hold the edges.

Savvy Tip:  Give your guests a heads up that there will be a sack race. Have the sacks out and ready and let them practice hopping.
Identify the start and finish lines.
Blow the whistle and go!

Three Legged Race

Items needed:
Old stockings

Savvy Tip:  We use old stockings because they are soft and have some give to them. Pair up into partners and stand side by side.

Tie one persons left leg to the other players right, or vise versa. Practice walking together.  Once you get the hang of walking try hopping or running.

Blow the whistle and go!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.

Nothing sets the mood at a party better than music. Here are some songs that would be great to download to your mp3 player for the 4th of July. Burn them to a CD and add a custom label that says “Smith Family 4th of July Party 2010” and you have an instant party favor.

What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong
God Bless America, LeAnn Rimes
Born in the USA, Bruce Springsteen
I hope you Dance, Lee Ann Womack
God Bless the USA, Lee Greenwood
I’m Already There, Lonestar
Have You Forgotten, Darrel Worley
Rocky IV:Living in America, The Studio Sound Ensemble
ROCK in the USA, John Mellencamp
Rockin’ in the Free World, Bon Jovi
Surfin’ USA, Beach Boys
My Country ‘tis of Thee, Aretha Franklin
Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue, 4Troops
United We Stand, Elton John
Georgia on My Mind, Ray Charles
American Pie, Don McLean
We are the Champions, Queen
Where the Stars and Stripes and The Eagle Fly, Aaron Tippin
Citizen Soldier, 3 Doors Down
Proud to be an American, Lee Greenwood

Monday, June 14, 2010

Savvy Outdoor Entertaining tips!

I thought I would just give some quick tips...

If you are short on serving bowls try hollowing out half a watermelon.

Don't attempt to serve food that has to be prepared at the last minute. It's less stressful and more convenient to have most everything prepared beforehand.

Choose foods that won't spoil fast, especially if you are blessed with a warm day.  Foods with mayonnaise will spoil if not kept at a proper temperature.  If you have a potato salad or macaroni salad with mayonnaise, keep it in an ice bowl bath.

As much as possible have food that guests can serve themselves. Also, keep in mind, people do a lot of standing during BBQs (ample seating or not).  Try and limit the amount of foods that require a fork and knife.  Make everything small and manageable.

Have plates stacked at the start of the buffet area and then cutlery and napkins at the end.

Use citronella candles to keep insects away and have some insect lotion or spray available for guests to use.

Provide garbage cans/bags.  This will save yourself some cleanup work after your guests have gone home.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Free Bullseye BBQ Sauce at Safeway

Stock up now for your 4th of July BBQ on this great deal. Safeway’s “Buy 8, Save $4 Promo” runs through June 15th. The following printable coupons make the sauce totally free! To get the $0.99 price on the BBQ sauce, you have to purchase at least 8 bottles of these Bullseye BBQ Sauces in the 17.5-18 oz sizes. This coupon for $1 off makes it free:  Bullseye BBQ Sauce, Carolina, Texas, Memphis, Kansas City – (

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How do you celebrate the 4th?

I’m back from our summer vacation to Disney World. We had a great time and I want to go back. I returned to 200+ email messages, phone messages, bills, a mountain of laundry, swimming lessons, piano lessons, Cub Scout Day Camp, Vacation Bible School, the summer reading list and Accelerated Reader tests, and somewhere under the couch pillows is an unconscious teenage boy in his boxer shorts who only comes out to eat, usually at night, leaving me with empty cupboards in the morning, which means a trip to the grocery store. . . ahhhhhh. I’m ready for some fun.

Thankfully, it’s time to send out invitations for the 4th of July. I used Evite and sent mine out Sunday. Take a look at “A party is only as good as its guests” (4/11/10) for help making the guest list.

Before sending out the invites, you will need to decide on what kind of party to have. For July 4th I recommend a BBQ. The weather is great and summer has just started. The kids are still happy to be outdoors rolling in the grass, listening to the songs of the crickets, and catching fireflies. It will still be a few more weeks before the mosquitoes and sunburns chase them inside and you are listening to the latest hit songs: “I’m hot” and “What do we have to eat?” Make time to enjoy it now. This time of year life is at a slower pace and what could be better than food, friends, and fun. We make a whole day of it. We all meet downtown for the parade and then return to my house for a BBQ lunch. Then, we head off to watch the fireworks and return to our house for some of our own backyard fireworks (which are legal here). Some other ideas:

• Picnic in the park (where everyone brings their own food)*
• Pot Luck dinner inside where it’s cool. (unless you are a total germaphobe like me)* See post on pot luck tips
• A group trip to your local amusement park/laser show.*
• Make and enter a float in the local parade, followed by a trip for ice cream*
• Neighborhood Chili-Cook Off contest/ block party
• Pool Party
• Old fashioned 4th where families compete in potato sack relays and other games (make sure to include a pie baking contest)
• A homemade carnival with games and prizes
* These are great choices if you hate to cook.

If this is your first 4th of July party, don’t try to put together an entire day. It takes a lot of food and games to keep people busy for that long. Shoot for 2-3 hours. Early evening is a cooler time of day for an outside party and you can all end the evening by going to the fireworks.

When picking the time and day, don’t just assume that the 4th is celebrated on the 4th in your community. This year the 4th falls on a Sunday. In the south we spend this day at church. Our parades and fireworks shows will be on Saturday, so that is when I am having my party. On many military bases, the big fireworks shows are on Thursday so that soldiers may travel to see family over the four day weekend. If you live overseas your local American expat community is a great place to reach out to other Americans. If there isn’t already an event planned, plan your own-- everyone is looking for some piece of America on July 4th.

You don’t need to have everything worked out just yet, but you do need to know:

• Date
• Start Time
• End Time
• Location
• Attire: should they dress for inside, outside, pool, relay races, mud wrestling, etc.
• What to bring: just yourself, a pot luck dish, a picnic lunch, dessert, a board game to share, etc.
• RSVP information

Take it one step at a time. We will be here to walk you through it. Good Luck!

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