Welcome back friends, I hope you had a wonderful long weekend! I feel like I’ve been on a ‘staycation’ for quite a while! Hotel Arata opened its doors for our out-of-town guests on Tuesday night, with more over-nighters trickling in on Wednesday, followed by a full house for our party on Thursday. Throughout the day we had around 40 of our friends traveling from near and far to celebrate one of our most favorite holidays of the year. Our backyard was equipped with lawn games, an oversized kiddie pool that was perfect for the handful of tots and pups we had over…as well as for us adults who sat with our feet cooling off in the water!
Our buffet table was stocked with delicious eats: That’s SO Jenn’s
sweet and spicy slaw, baked beans, homemade pickles, party meatballs, lemon white bean dip, and a quinoa salad coming your way this week. We also set up the popcorn machine for that feeling of being at a fair. Other friends contributed pot-luck style with pasta salad, cold plantain salad (An incredible take on a potato salad with onions and peppers in a vinaigrette), cornbread, mesculin salad, guacamole, sausage and peppers, a veggie platter, and a patriotic fruit salad made to look like a flag.
Of course, I labeled all the dishes, this time crafting my own labels using blue and red stock paper with a chevron accent.
Hubby seasoned four (!) whole beer can chickens, while our good friend Jorge made his specialty: pulled pork. He marinated it for days before traveling from Massachusetts, then was up about every hour the evening before the party, coddling it to be sure it was cooking properly. And unlike last year’s antics, we had no oven fires!
For my dessert table, I served keylime cupcakes, s’mores sticks, red velvet waffle sticks with vanilla buttercream frosting, cookie brownie bars and a variety of red, white and blue candy in mason jars. I loved watching everyone fill their palms with the hot tamales and blue and white York pieces. Others couldn’t resist munching on chewy Twizzlers or sweet and salty white chocolate pretzels. Fun for all ages! The blue and white striped goody bags and individual tubes of red, white and blue jelly beans were a big hit for guests to take on the road when they headed home.
We also set up a ‘fun station’ full of beaded necklaces, red, white and blue bracelets, July 4th headbands, sunglasses and things for the kids such as a jump rope and bubbles. Glow sticks helped the party continue well into the evening!
I always love that communal feeling of everyone pitching in and bringing something with them to contribute to the day. As I’ve mentioned before, we truly cherish being part of everyone’s annual tradition, which is why entertaining is so important to us. I remember four summers ago at our first July 4th bash, one of our friends was expecting her first child. Last year she said, ‘One day she’ll be bringing her boyfriend to this party!’ How cool to watch all of us evolve over the years.
It’s always great to see all the various groups of people socializing and making themselves comfortable all over our house. Some went into the living room and TV room (We so fondly call ‘The Thunder Dome’) to relax in the air conditioning, groups gathered in the kitchen to fill their plates, joined around the umbrella shaded table on the deck to mix drinks and snack on air pop popped corn and chips, while others played ladder ball across the grass, relaxed by the pool or sat at tables chatting and competing in rounds of Apples to Apples. The evening ended as usual, with a backyard fireworks display and tikki torches, amidst the lightning bugs that filled the air. After more than 12 hours of celebrating, we were thrilled to have wrapped another successful, memorable occasion with people we care about so much.
What are some of your traditions for the 4th?