By the Dawn’s Early Light

 There is more activity on the lake in the early morning with the anticipation of a long holiday weekend. . .

Plans are under way. . .

While some like us, will stay home feathering their nests in preparation of  family & friends arriving for festivities & fireworks . . .

Others have already begun enjoying the weather & weekend, with their families on the water . . .

Some are still planning what will be on the menu. . .

Hopefully not boat hydraulics. . .

And others are just looking for a little solitude and recreational fishing. . .

Whether you’re spreading your wings. . .

Travelling near or far this weekend. . .


Wishing you a safe and Happy 4th!

With Liberty & Potato Salad for All!

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Oh, Say Can You See. . .

A 4th of July Table with simple white dishes and red & blue accents~ where the food and the party favors are the stars & stripes. . . to celebrate Independence Day~

On the fourth, there will be 17 of us celebrating family members’ and Uncle Sam’s birthday~ while enjoying food, some boating fun, & fireworks on the lake.

I found these little vintage greetings-inspired buckets at World Market last summer and thought they would make the perfect pails for party favors.

A trip to Dollar Tree kept me from liberating all of the cash from my wallet~ where I filled my pails with Red, White, & Blue goodies. . . including a battery operated Fan, Patriotic Tootsie Roll Midgees & Pops, mini Flags and Sparklers.

A family favorite~ Our Flag Was Still There Fruit Pizza

A cookie dough crust using Pillsbury refrigerated cookie dough~ sugar cookie or our preference, chocolate chip~ with a layer of sweetened cream cheese, and the fruit of your choice. Brush apple or apricot preserves over the top of the fruit if desired. Fun to make in a flag formation with blueberries, cream cheese and red grape/raspberry stripes, but we enjoy maximum fruit!


Land of the Free Lemonade~ recipe courtesy Southern Living

A refreshing combination of pureed watermelon & lemonade~ garnished with some watermelon stars and with the addition of some blueberries~


1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups fresh lemon juice (about 8 large lemons), 4 squeezed lemons reserved

4 cups chopped watermelon

Watermelon stars and blueberries to garnish, if desired


Bring 6 cups water, sugar and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove saucepan from heat, add reserved lemons, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree chopped watermelon in a blender or food processor with 1 cup water.

Pour syrup and watermelon puree through a strainer into a pitcher. Stir in lemon juice. (Lemonade can be made up to 1 day ahead.) Serve over ice. Garnish with watermelon stars and blueberries if desired.

 Add citrus-infused vodka for a refreshing  adult cocktail!

You can find a printable recipe, here.

What So Proudly We Hailed Watermelon Cupcakes

I had a trial run at these”cupcakes” with my nephews who were visiting this past weekend. The reviews were mixed~ with the adults more impressed than the boys.  Since I pledge allegiance to any frosting~ the best part of a cupcake to me~ watermelon was a surprising & fun frosting-delivery method :-)

I cut pieces of seedless watermelon with a cookie cutter the approximate size of the cupcake liner~ added pineapple cream cheese frosting and decorated with sprinkles. After punching the watermelon pieces out, I placed them on paper towels to absorb some excess moisture, then put a little piece of wax paper in the bottom of the paper wrapper to prevent the “cupcakes” from weeping through the decorative liners. Next time, I’ll make them & frost ahead and put in the liners at the last minute~

 Dawn’s Early Light Pretzel Sparklers~ sure to be extinguished quickly :-)

Pretzel Sparklers, directions courtesy Martha Stewart

 I found these festive metal pails in the dollar bins at Super Target~

Oh, Say Can You See Table details:

Napkins/ Kohl’s

Plates/ Oneida Westerly Basket

Flatware & Placemats/ HomeGoods

Matelasse Coverlet used for tablecloth

Vintage Greetings-Inspired Pails, Hobnail Pitcher & Glasses/ World Market

Metal Patriotic Pails/ SuperTarget

Blue Goblets/ Dollar Tree

A Star- Spangled Menu

 Banner Yet Wave Burgers

Home of the Brave Hotdogs

Broad Stripes Broccoli Salad

Bright Stars Baked Beans

Rocket’s Red Glare Potato Salad

Proof Through the Night Pasta Salad

Our Flag Was Still There Fruit Pizza

What So Proudly We Hailed Watermelon Cupcakes

Dawn’s Early Light Pretzel Sparklers

Land of the Free Lemonade


Wishing you a Safe & Happy 4th~

with Liberty & Potato Salad for All!

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Metamorphosis Monday,

The ScoopInspire Me TuesdayWow Us Wednesdays,

 Tablescape ThursdayFoodie FridayHome Sweet Home

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A Jeep Picnic

A little ride in my husband’s new/old restored 1985 Jeep Scrambler to enjoy a picnic~

With the original tailgate color for comparison. . .

Blackberries were on the menu after a visit to the farmers market and I found this idea in Southern Living~

Blackberry Skewers:  basil leaves,  fresh small mozzarella cheese balls, and fresh blackberries~

My husband failed appreciate my feminine touches & the accessorizing of his Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler with a crate 350 motor, NV 4500 transmission, Dana transfer case,  Dana front and rear axles & Warn Winch. . .

But I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the flowers in contrast to the Warn Winch’s durable 3-stage planetary geartrain and operation series-wound, high-speed motor~ especially when it makes my husband squirm :-)

 He did enjoy the blackberry & basil skewers and pasta salads :-)


Any views or opinions presented (ie, flowers on hood of jeep & girly pillows . . .) are solely those of the author and contradict/go against this Jeep owner’s core beliefs, values and all he holds dear, do not necessarily represent those of the Jeep owner/driver husband :-)

Picnic details:


Napkins/Pier 1

Pitcher, Glasses, Caddy/ Pottery Barn

Trays & Flatware/HomeGoods

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Dining with Butterflies

I’m dining with the butterflies~ enjoying this book~ with its beautiful illustrations by Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717), German-born naturalist and artist.

At a time when few women were educated or literate, and rarely travelled, Maria Sibylla Merian was a pioneer, and made history with her studies of insects in Surinam.

Trained as a copperplate engraver and watercolorist, she documented the metamorphosis of butterflies, laying the foundation for modern entomology.

 On seeing a collection of butterflies from Dutch Guiana, (modern Surinam), she decided to study tropical flora and fauna, to discover whether the moths and butterflies she saw in collections shared the same life cycle as those she had bred: the egg and caterpillar stage.

In 1699 she sailed for South America with daughter Dorothea, the first time any woman had ventured on a journey of exploration on this scale.

  Having evaluated and categorized her specimens, in 1705 she published her major work Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, in Dutch and Latin.

She made 60 copperplate engravings to illustrate the stages of insect development, arranged around the cultivated and wild plants she had encountered on her travels.

With its detailed text and imagery, the Metamorphosis is the first work on the natural history of Surinam. For 17th century Europeans it was an insight into an unknown world.

This quilted throw from HomeGoods migrated into my cart recently and was the inspiration for this table.

I thought it would be the perfect foundation for this book, with the butterflies sipping nectar from the quilted flowers~ while I sipped on tea from my Portmeirion Botanic Garden Blue Tea Set and dined among the embossed butterflies on my Lennox Butterfly Meadow Cloud plates.


Quilted throw/ HomeGoods by Ridgefield Home

Plates/ Lennox Butterfly Meadow Cloud/ HomeGoods

Trays/ HomeGoods

Bee Stems/ Sur La Table

Napoleon Bee flatware/Horchow

Napkins/Pier 1

Tea Set/ Portmeirion Botanic Blue/ Marshalls


I spread my wings with a little bow tie pasta chicken salad, recipe courtesy of Pillsbury~ to fly over and join the fun at Lynn’s Celebrity Cook-Along with Pillsbury~ and a few Pepperidge Farm butterfly crackers  served on the side.

Dried Cherry-Nut Chicken Pasta Salad, recipe can be found here.

I substituted chopped pecans for slivered almonds in the recipe and made an additional substitution with the dressing called for. Not a huge fan of poppy seed dressing, I decided to try Trader Joe’s Champagne Pear Vinaigrette that is slightly sweet, and has some gorgonzola in it, when I read a comment that suggested adding some gorgonzola to the pasta salad for additional flavor. It was a quick & tasty substitution for the poppy seed dressing that I mixed with Olive Oil Mayo and complemented with the dried cherries, nuts, chicken & bow tie pasta.

 I recently had a milestone birthday, and was gifted with my very own Poppin’ Fresh Pillsbury Dough Boy napkin holder, since the Dough Boy was introduced 5o years ago, in 1961 :-)

A metamorphosis~ from crescent rolls to sugar-sprinkled butterflies garnish a layer of berries, lemon curd & whipped cream.

“TASCHEN’s reprint of a hand-colored first edition copy, belonging to the University Library of Basel, includes the complete plates with a commentary by Katharina Schmidt-Loske. Merian accomplished a pioneering achievement of the modern age. This publication pays homage to her work and offers readers an opportunity to appreciate her sumptuous engravings.”

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Savannah Iron

A trip to Savannah, Georgia for a birthday celebration last week had us exploring the city, admiring this lacy curtain of shadows falling on this doorway.

  The hundreds of examples of ornamental wrought and cast iron to be found fascinate me~ along with the endless shadows the decorative scrolls and curlicues cast~

On stair railings and covering windows~

Decorating doorways. . .

On balconies and bannisters~

 In gates, that tempt with glimpses into courtyards~

Functioning as porch columns~

Providing a peak at garden treasures ~


. . . and an iron will is needed to resist Gigi’s Cupcakes :-)

Happy Birthday Ginny!

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 A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday, Jenny Matlock for Alphabe-Thursday, Little Red House for Mosaic Monday, The Tablescaper for Oh the PLACES I’ve been!

Blooms, Bees & Bliss

A few pink Rose of Sharon blooms~

 Providing a pop of color~

Attracting busy bees. . .

Buzzing from bloom to bloom. . .

In a state of pollen-collecting-bliss. . .

“Like the bee, we should make our industry our amusement.”  ~Oliver Goldsmith

Wishing you a little bliss & amusement in your tasks :-)

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Reliable Seeds

A little table top inspiration provided by my vintage Reliable Seeds box. . .

. . .and a crop of vegetables picked from the market~


A shopping trip to Target last year, yielded this pair of decorative gardening gloves ~





I harvested veggies from my Reliable Seeds, courtesy of Hello, Cupcake!


A cupcake garden, with freshly turned chocolate-wafer earth~ and crowd-pleasing summer vegetables~made from fruit chews~

“Edible Pods” are Tootsie Roll Midgees, rolled flat and shaped to hold green M&M’s, masquerading as “Huge Peas”~

 Space Saving Romaine and Little Gem Lettuce~


Colorful Blend Radishes~ created by blending Vanilla Midgees & Cherry Starbursts







And Sugarsnax Carrots, everybunny’s favorite~

Freshly picked table top details:

Tablecloth/ Kohl’s

Plates, Goblets, Cake Pedestal/ HomeGoods

Placemats/ Pottery Barn

Bunny Towels/ Williams Sonoma

Goblets/ HomeGoods

Gardener Bunny/ Hobby Lobby

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Soothing Whites

Gardenia blooms and buds are beginning to appear,

just as the temperatures climb into the 90’s. . .

There is something soothing to my soul

and inner thermostat :) when I see white~

“Sultry as a summer evening and as intoxicating as an exotic perfume, the scent of gardenias settles like a memory onto your soul. The blossoms are just as enticing. Buds shaped like seashells unfurl into velvet soft flowers in the warmth and humidity of early evening. But it’s the fragrance that captivates.”

~Southern Living

“White is not a mere absence of color; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black. God paints in many colors; but He never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white.”

~ G.K. Chesterton

 And more whites . . .

 If we’re not on the boat,

trying to generate a breeze,

you can find me here~

On the porch,

under the fan,

surrounded by white

& thinking cool thoughts :)

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Little Red House for Mosaic Monday~

A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday~

Rose Vignettes for Fresh Cut Friday~

The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sundays~

Stem to Stern


 Memorial Day kicks off Boating Season at the Lake.

In anticipation of boating over the course of the long holiday weekend, I decorated the pontoon for fun~ from Stem to Stern ~ including a few stems in a mason jar.

A few pillows. . .

Some Red,White & Blue to dine with. . .

A beverage tub filled with drinks to keep us hydrated. . .

 A breezy day~ with the wind whipping the flags :-)

 Watermelon and Feta~the creamy, salty cheese is the perfect partner to the sweet, juicy melon~ in a flag formation with the addition of a side of blueberries :-)

I found this idea in Southern Living Magazine where Foods Editor, Scott Jones, fondly remembers the BBQ Sundae served at the Rebel Barn BBQ in Oxford, Mississippi.

 An entrée, not dessert, the sundae layers pork, slaw, and baked beans, all covered in thick, sweet red sauce, or Lexington-Style sauce in our case. Perfect and portable for tailgating or picnicking~

My husband smokes a “Boston Butt”, “Picnic Roast”, “Pork Shoulder” or “Shoulder Blade Roast” ~ all names for shoulder cuts that make great pulled pork.

Our pork shoulder is brined for 24-48 hours, depending on the size & how organized we are :-) . . . in a mixture of ½ cup of pickling salt (which dissolves in cold water), 2 quarts of water and ¾ c of molasses.

 Remove from the brine, blot with paper towels, brush on olive oil, and liberally add a dry rub/seasoning blend of salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, garlic powder etc.

Smoke at 225 degrees over lump charcoal with some soaked hickory or apple wood chips for about 1  1/2 hours per pound. Remove from smoker, wrap in foil and let stand an hour. It should fall apart, with all the fat melted away :-)

Wishing you a Safe & Happy Memorial Day~

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Celebrating the Red, White & Blue


Memorial Day is the unofficial kick off to Summer. . .

 For us that means a holiday that involves boating & food. . .

so I had a little mosaic fun with photos taken on our boating outings~

(any mosaic will enlarge if you click on it)

Celebrating the Red, White & Blue. . .

Of course the holiday has a much more important significance than boating & picnics. . .  it commemorates U.S. soldiers who died while in military service.

First enacted to honor Union and Confederate soldiers following the American Civil War, it was extended after World War I to honor Americans who have died in all wars.

However you celebrate, spend a few moments to remember and give thanks for those who serve & protect us . . .

Wishing you Good Food. . .

  Safe Travels. . .

. . .And time to kick back & put your feet up :-)

Happy Memorial Day!

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