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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Our July 4th Barbecue - 2013


Everyone loves a good 4th of July barbecue, right? I know I do. Since I didn't have one this year, and I'm frankly a little sad about that, I thought I would share about the one that my husband and I had last year. Sorry, I meant to post this yesterday, ON July 4th (I started writing this on July 3rd), but I was having issues prioritizing things, and so it didn't happen.  

I'm a reasonably creative person, and I love planning and executing parties. Part of the process is finding inspiration; recipes, decor and other party ideas that I like. I'm no Martha Stewart, that's for sure, but I think I do a pretty good job of pulling things off (with help from my husband, of course). I want to share with you some simple tips for throwing a fun July 4th barbecue. 

My first rule is to have a lot of decorations.  I like to "go big" when I have a party. For this barbecue, it was like the 4th of July exploded all over  the backyard. Below, you can see some of the decorations in the photos.  What you can't see are all of the American flags I used. There were 4-5 in the front yard in two sizes, and we also had a big patriotic pin-wheel spinning in our flower bed. I also put a few around the back yard, in addition to all of the other decorations. I also had a big "Happy 4th of July" sign in our living room window facing the street outside. 

I was going to use this idea from a magazine that showed how you can sprinkle sifted flour in big templates of stars to have a sea of stars on your lawn, but I ended up not having time to deal with that.  It looks cool though, and it's easy to do. The photo below is from Sunset Magazine.  


Lawn stars! Maybe I'll do 
this for our next party...


I also love to supply festive, decorative, and rather obnoxious things for my guests to wear.  That's how I roll. I think that people have come to expect this from my parties.  Here is a list of some of the "accessories" for party guests that I bought; American flag sunglasses, a plastic Uncle Sam hat, tiaras and metallic necklaces (in red, white and blue), an Abraham Lincoln beard, and headband antennas. I decided to wear the fake Abraham Lincoln beard myself, but it kept falling off and I didn't want it to fall into any food that I was serving, so I took it off. The adhesive didn't work very well. Someone accidentally broke the American flag sunglasses within about 20 minutes of the party starting. No biggie!


  This star antenna head band is a fun way to get people in the 4th of July spirit! Doesn't Chip look handsome??


Here he is again. Oh, Chip!


You can see in the background some of the decorations I used.  I think it helps people have fun and get into the spirit of things by having parties look super (almost obnoxiously) festive. 

I chose this red, white and blue, sparkly tiara to add patriotic spirit to my Hawaiian dress. Ried's vintage blue and white checked shirt goes works great with our July 4th theme.



Our party was a Tiki, vintage, patriotic combo. That right there sounds like a terrible mixture, but it worked for us. Our backyard is about the size of a shoe box, so I had to maximize what little space we had to use. We got two big outdoor umbrellas, which covered most of the back portion of our yard.  In the photo above you can see them behind us. 

To make it easier on yourself if you are the host or hostess, make the party a potluck.  This way you only have to be responsible for a few items, but not EVERYTHING, which can be overwhelming. Invite over the amount of people you want to attend. If you want about 20 people at your party, invite about 35- 40. Usually, I find that over half of the people on the guest list make it to our parties. But sometimes, like last year at our barbecue, more people came than we expected.  That's why a potluck works so well - then there's enough food for everyone.  We supplied hot dogs (and Rocket Dogs!), barbecued chicken, burgers, pasta salad, and alcohol (beer and wine).

Monika (pictured below) brought an American flag pie dessert. It had a pretzel crust at the bottom, cut up strawberries in a strawberry jello center and whipped cream top!  It was very much in the spirit of July 4th! It looked GREAT. Thanks Monika!

Monika adding the finishing touch to her American Flag Pretzel Pie.

Other guests brought dessert, too. Kiley, pictured below, brought a colorful Ambrosia Salad that was her grandmother's recipe! It was delicious. Thanks Kiley!

Kiley and her famous Ambrosia Salad. 
Next, I like to have a conversation piece at the party.  My conversation piece for the barbecue was Rocket Dogs.  They were super July 4th festive, easy to make, and everyone had fun eating them!  I got the idea watching Good Morning America.  They had this guest on who was demonstrating doing an entire July 4th party using only stuff she purchased from the Dollar Store.  She introduced me to Rocket Dogs: All you do is wrap canned biscuit dough around a hot dog, bake per the biscuit instructions, then put a bamboo skewer into each one, tie curl ribbon on the skewer, and then add a triangle shaped bell pepper wedge to the top. Voila! Rocket Dogs! You can stretch out the recipe by cutting the hot dogs in half, which is what I did.  

Carlo and Loraine enjoying Rocket Dogs!

Me bringing out the first batch of Rocket Dogs. I was surprised that they were such a hit!


Music is important at a party.  We don't have a fancy stereo system, and we don't need one in our little back yard. Since our iPod speakers are broken, we just used one of our old CD players and played a variety of music; vintage surf, vintage Hawaiian, exotica, and more.








As the sun started to go down, guests started drifting home. For those that stayed, we fired up the Tiki torches and restocked the soft drinks, beer and wine in the outdoor ice bucket.  Then we sat around and chatted for a couple more hours.  At that point only about ten people were left, so my husband and I got to relax and chat with our guests. When everyone left, we were tired, but it was the "we had a terrific day"  tired.

My final tip is the most helpful one in my opinion.  It's all about planning.  Prepare as much as you can in advance. I make a To Do list a couple of days before any party. Then I break it down even more by doing a shopping list. Then I go over the list with my husband and break it down into what I need him to do.  We do as much as we can in advance.  It is way less stressful when almost everything is done and I know what I need to do and when. Planning ahead makes things run smoothly, and I have a better time. 

I hope that everyone had a fabulous 4th of July!  Now you can start planning your barbecue for next year!






Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Where to Get Vintage Mid-Century Modern Furnishings in San Francisco

Another Time's Neon Sign

Why live with boring decor when you can have a stylish home that you love coming home to everyday?? A place that makes you happy and that others enjoy seeing when they visit you. I have to be surrounded by fun, colorful, vintage things in my living space and over the years I've been collecting things that make my home a very happy place to live. 

It's always fun to find an amazing vintage furniture piece or set at an estate sale, thrift store or on Craig's List, but good vintage stuff on the cheap is harder to come by these days.  Usually, my husband and I prefer to shop where we know that our odds of finding something cool and in great shape are high.  Of course, you have to pay a little or a lot more for it, but in my opinion, it's worth the money and time savings to be able to find exactly what you need and want in great condition.  The perfect place to do that is in San Francisco at a vintage furniture store called Another Time. Located at 1710 Market St. in San Francisco, Another Time is in an area that is called "The Deco Ghetto." They are "an established vintage Heywood-Wakefield, Mid-Cetury and Art Deco store" according to their website. Their furniture selections include Danish Modern Teak, Rosewood, Heywood-Wakefield, Brown Saltman, Paul McCobb, Gilbert Rohde, Widdicomb, Russel Wright and more." That is a direct quote from their website, which you can access here.



Say hello to this gorgeous Heywood-Wakefield desk and chair!  Pam's husband has refinished many of the items in their store including this set.   


I WANT the shelf unit pictured here.
Um…I believe that is a MOSS LAMP sitting on top of it (see my post about Moss Lamps for more info.)!

Next time you are in San Francisco, you must stop by Another Time for your Mid-Century Modern furniture fix.  My husband and I have been shopping there for YEARS.  In fact, most of the furnishings in our home are from that store!   I love going in and just looking around while pretending I can afford anything I want.  

They also have fabulous vintage prints, wall art, bark cloth curtain panels, dish sets, Bakelite fixtures and MORE.  Pam Groot is the store owner, and she's super helpful.  


I want the panther print in this photo!  I wouldn't complain if I could also 
afford to buy the bamboo furniture beneath it!



Here's a sweet, pink Mid-Century Modern lamp!  Perfect for 
your pink boudoir.




I'll take the chair and the dishes in the cabinet in the glass 
case there, while I'm at it.  


A Few Simple Decorating tips:

It saves time if you know what you want in advance. For example, I needed another end table in our living room so I could put out my Moss lamps.  I knew that I wanted a Heywood Wakefield end table so that it would match our other furniture in that room. Another Time had exactly what we wanted. 

I'm not very organized around decorating.  I pretty much buy most of the things that I love and make it fit in (unless it's a big ticket item like furniture).  But it really helps to have a color theme.  I know that anything pink, sky blue, brown or forest green will go in my living room.  Many of the things I find that I love are in those colors, so it works!

When I'm at a loss for ideas, I like to look through magazines or online images for inspiration.  You can type in your search engine window, "Mid-Century Modern living room," or whatever room you are looking to update and then look through those images until you find something that gives you inspiration.  Or, buy a magazine like Atomic Ranch or get vintage magazines from the era you love.  You could pull out pages from those magazines and start a binder, or make a bulletin board of colors and images that you like. If you are shopping and find a piece of furniture or a print that is a statement piece, you can decorate the room around it.  

I'll show photos of how my house is decorated (wait for it)…ANOTHER TIME. Sorry. I couldn't help myself.


I am sincerely grateful to all of my readers.  I hope you enjoyed todays post. Thank you for stopping by. Happy decorating!