Great 4th of July Recipes

Happy 4th of July everyone! It 's that wonderful time of the year when we all get the burgers and brats on the grill, have the drinks chilling in the cooler and the sparklers ready for the sun to go down. I have found some recipes you can add to your holiday cook-out this year. The following recipes are sure to add some fun and yum to your 4th of July Celebration.

Patriotic Dessert Recipe
Photo: Taste of Home

Patriotic Dessert Recipe


• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup finely chopped pecans
• 1/2 cup butter, softened
• 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
• 1 cup confectioners' sugar
• 1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided
• 1-1/2 cups cold milk
• 1 package (5.1 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
• 3 cups fresh strawberries, halved
• 1/2 cup fresh blueberries


• In a bowl combine flour, pecans and butter. Press into an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

• In a bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar. Fold in half of the whipped topping; spread over crust. In a bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set.

• Spread over cream cheese layer. Cover with remaining whipped topping. Decorate with strawberries and blueberries to resemble a flag. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Yield: 12-15 servings.

Red, White and Bleu Slaw Recipe
Photo: Taste of Home
Red, White and Bleu Slaw Recipe


• 6 cups angel hair coleslaw mix
• 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
• 3/4 cup coleslaw salad dressing
• 3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, divided
• 1/2 cup real bacon bits


• In a large bowl, combine the coleslaw mix, tomatoes, salad dressing and 1/2 cup blue cheese. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Just before serving, sprinkle with bacon bits and remaining cheese. Yield: 6 servings.

Fourth of July Cocktail
Recipe by Guy Fieri and Photo by: Kate Sears
 Fourth of July Cocktail


• 1 ounce watermelon schnapps
• 1 big splash cranberry juice
• 1 very thin slice jalapeno or serrano pepper
• 1 slice lemon
• 1 slice lime
• 1 1/2 ounces tequila
• 1/4 ounce blue curacao
• 1/2 ounce simple syrup
• Watermelon wedge, for garnish (optional)


Mix the schnapps and cranberry juice in a shaker; pour into an ice-filled glass.

Muddle the jalapeno pepper, lemon and lime slices, tequila, blue curacao and simple syrup (to make a batch, dissolve sugar in equal parts hot water and chill) in the shaker. Slowly strain into the glass over the red layer. Garnish with watermelon, if desired.

Enjoy and Happy Fourth of July to you and your family!

The Most Versatile Bridesmaids Dress Ever

It wasn't that long ago that it was considered perfectly acceptable to walk into a bridal store only to see a small rack of puffy sleeved bridesmaids dresses in your choice of taffeta, taffeta, or....tafetta!  Oh, but not anymore.  The wedding fashion world has finally caught up with the rest us.  Brides today have some really great options to choose from.  Ones that actually complement their wedding day vision.

If you are searching for the ultimate one-size-fits all bridesmaids dress that is guaranteed to be worn again and again, you have to check out TwoBirds Bridesmaid.  What makes them so great?  Their dresses are the epitome of versatile, boasting over 15 different ways that they can be worn, and they are almost guaranteed to look good on any figure.  I don't know about you but I also just love the idea of buying a dress that can actually be worn again!  Some of TwoBird's dresses in action:

TwoBirds Bridesmaids Dresses
TwoBirds Bridesmaids Dresses
TwoBirds Bridesmaids Dresses

Priced at about $270 each, if the price tag is too high for your wallet, there are more affordable alternatives available from larger chain retailers (like this multi-way dress from Dessy priced at $140 each).  A word of caution when going with a less expensive sure to take into consideration that you may not get the quality, service, and/or color selection that you would get by paying full price.

Happy Planning!

Things I Love: The Conversation Starter Wedding Guest Book

Reception guest book and table settingWell ladies, Martha Stewart has done it again! I came across this neat wedding reception conversation starter on and fell in love with it. The Conversation Starter Wedding Guest Book is a fabulous way to get guests talking and mingling. 

So here's how it works: These guest books are blank inside and each feature a different question on the cover. Place a book on each of your reception tables and then on each table setting place a pen with a ribbon attached that says: "Don't forget to sign the booklet". 

The books can feature questions regarding the marrying couple such as, "What is your favorite memory of us?" and "When did you know that we were meant for each other?". The questions can also gather advice from your guests by prompting them with such topics as, "What is the key to a happy marriage" and "What should we name our kids?".

By placing these booklets on your tables, you will help break the ice and get your guests talking and sharing about the one thing they all have in common, the bride and groom! Everyone attending the wedding knows the marrying couple in a different context and will enjoy sharing their stories about you. By responding to these prompts, your guests will come up with some heartfelt thoughts and advice (not to mention humorous revelations) that you and your spouse will love to revisit for years to come.

Guest book cover examples

At the Martha Stewart website you can find templates of these book covers, along with several more, to print off to create your own set of books. If traditional guest books are more your style, no one says you can't set one of those out too! Hope you enjoyed this fun idea as much as I did!

Image Credits: Martha Stewart Weddings

Two Dresses - One Price Tag

I love little white dresses. I also love long traditional wedding gowns. Like most girls planning a wedding, it was difficult to choose. I eventually chose a short white dress for my casual outdoor wedding, but many brides have solved this dilemma by wearing their traditional gowns in the ceremony and changing into a cute little white cocktail dress for the reception. This ensures your beautiful dress doesn't get dirty at the reception and also leaves you unencumbered by beautiful, but heavy and uncomfortable hoops and frills. Unfortunately, this wardrobe change isn't always possible for brides on a budget. It is also a bit of a hassle to cart around an extra dress all day. This is where the idea of a two-in-one dress, (like the Priscilla of Boston dress/romper combo shown left) comes in.

These beautiful dresses convert from a traditional gown to a sassy cocktail gown by removing the bottom portion of the dress which zips, snaps, or ties on. Here are some of my favorites, but so many designers are doing this now that you are sure to be able to find one that suits you perfectly!

Dress by Martin Liana

Don't forget to accessorize! Check out our newest bridal hair accessories.

~ Jenna

Real Wedding of Caitlin and Matt by Love Life Images

I am so excited to be able to share today's real wedding with you.  Caitlin and Matt's wedding was filled with romantic and playful details from the soft and earthy decor to the super-fun and entertaining yard games.  Photographed by the amazing Jennifer Domenick of Love Life Images, Jennifer did a fantastic job in capturing the life and laughter in this wedding.  Enjoy!

Real Wedding of Caitlin and Matt courtesy of Jennifer Domenick of Love Life Images
Real Wedding of Caitlin and Matt courtesy of Jennifer Domenick of Love Life Images

Simple yet elegant table centerpieces were put together using soft pink peonies.  Flower planters like the Zinnia plant above were presented with decorative round signs printed with the name of the flower posted on casual wooden posts.  Soft, earthy garland was strung loosely behind the bride and groom's chairs.
Real Wedding of Caitlin and Matt courtesy of Jennifer Domenick of Love Life Images
Real Wedding of Caitlin and Matt courtesy of Jennifer Domenick of Love Life Images
Real Wedding of Caitlin and Matt courtesy of Jennifer Domenick of Love Life Images

Croquet and other yard games kept guests entertained and laughing all night long and lent to the fun atmosphere of this wedding.

Top 20 First Dance Wedding Songs

Bride and Groom's First Wedding Dance
The wedding song you choose for your first wedding dance should tell a story about you and your FH.  Whether about the things you both enjoy, your relationship, or your personalities, your first dance as husband and wife is your time to shine in front of your friends and family members.

To find out what the top wedding songs are for this year, we asked our Facebook brides which song they picked to use for their first dance as husband and wife.  From contemporary wedding songs to country favorites, we go some really great feedback from our brides-to-be.

Fabulous Flowers for Your Summer Wedding

Choosing the flowers for your summer wedding can be a difficult task. Why you ask? Well, because this is the time of the year when most of these colorful blooms are in season and readily available! It will be hard to choose just one of these beauties! Here are a few of my favorite summer wedding flowers to help you decide!

Sunflower wedding flowers

Sunflowers ~ This warm and friendly flower is a known symbol of peace and happiness. What better sentiment for your wedding day! These flowers are inexpensive and easy to maintain. They are especially appropriate for a late summer or fall wedding. Sunflowers are in season from July to September and come in colored varieties of yellow, red and white.

Managing Your Guest List - Common Questions and Answers

It would be perfectly lovely to have the funds and space to invite everyone to your wedding from that coworker that you barely know three cubicles over to distantly related cousins and their plus ones. For most of us, however, there are budget restrictions, people we don't particularly care for but feel we ought to include, space restrictions at the chosen venue, and too many other possible limitations to list. It isn't fun to cut people from your dream wedding list, but sometimes it must be done. Here are a few answers to the most commonly asked guest list questions.

Q: My wedding will be very small. What do I tell people that will not be invited?
A: This is very simple. You tell them exactly that - your guest list is small - limited by funds and space available, so you are only able to invite close family and friends. Don't get too caught up in social obligation or feelings of guilt. It is perfectly understandable to want only those you are most intimately connected with to witness such an emotional event in your life. Your not-so-close friends and distant family will understand this. They may even feel awkward attending if they do not know your group of guests well.

Q: Can I invite guests to the reception, but not the ceremony?
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