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    Inspiring Pretty is a home for all the things in which women find beauty. From raising a family to planning a wedding to finding creative crafts and recipes and everything in between, we are here to share the things we love the most while beautifying your life as well. Read our site biography and our writer biographies in order to find out more about who we are!

I don’t know about you all, but my Summer is in full-swing. Though the first day of Summer was back in June, the Fourth of July is always the Summer kicker for me. Why, you might ask.  Well, because on that day you usually find yourself doing the best Summer activities like going to the beach, being outside watching parades go by, swimming, playing sports, barbecuing etc.  So, why wouldn’t it be the day that kicks your Summer off right? So, though you may have wanted to make some of these things earlier in the year so that you’d be prepared for these fun-in-the-sun activities, it is still not too late ……. procrastinator. Okay, I’m kidding.  I haven’t made any of these yet so I’m in your boat.  Oooooo! Boating!  That’s another great Summer activity.  The list just keeps going.  Anyway, here are a few crafties that just may help you in the next 2 months.  Have fun!

Pocket Beach Towel

Alright this one has a few perks.  Not only can you keep all your beach necessities nearby without having to rummage through your bag with sandy hands, but you know how your towel or blanket always seems to flip up at the corners, especially on a windy day?  Well these pockets, filled with stuff mind you, can also hold that darn thing in place!  Just awesome.  I’m doing this right now.

Here’s how to do it:  Take whatever towel, sheet or a lightweight blanket you want to use and then grab two 14-inch squares of linen or cotton for the corners. Cut each square into two triangles. Fold all edges over 1/2 inch, and press. Fold long edge of each triangle over another 1/2 inch, and sew across to hem. Pin the triangles to the corners of the blanket. Sew the short sides of the triangles to the blanket’s corners, and start packing.

The Summer Tote

Now this guy is going to be perfect for “toting” around all of your summer essentials. And not just to the beach.  I’m thinking the pool, the park, on that boat I mentioned or anywhere things might get a little wet or messy. Plus, if you end up needing something to lay-out on, walla! You’ve got it “in the bag”.

Here’s how she does it:

Start with 1 hand towel and 1 bath towel in the same color (length of hand towel should equal width of bath towel).

For handles, sew a 3-inch section from each end of a 21-inch length of webbing to center of 1 long side of hand towel. Repeat on 1 short side of bath towel. Place hand towel on bath towel, so handles are aligned and facing. Stitch towels together along 1 long edge of hand towel, leaving sides with handles open.

To form sides of bag, stitch along short sides of hand towel, 4 inches in from edges (or along decorative stripes), creating a pocket. Flip inside out, and tuck length of bath towel into pocket. At the beach, turn inside out, and unroll the towel to use as a mat. If you prefer, stuff the pocket with a soft item to make a pillow. Thank Martha for this one.

Okay…. so this is turning into a “What You Can Do with Terricloth” post.  Sorry….. it’s just so easy!

Beachy Pillow Case

Aaahhhggg! You are enjoying that sun, watching the waves and the people but you’ve got a book you just can’t seem to finish. Really it’s because you can’t seem to get your head in the right position to read it.  Need a pillow? Why, yes. Thank you.

Here’s how to do it: So, you’re going to need a 15-inch square case. Cut a 32 1/2-by-16-inch rectangle from a towel, using a finished edge for one of the short sides. Finish other short side with a 1/2-inch hem. Place fabric wrong side down, with hemmed edge on right. Fold over left edge 7 1/2 inches toward center. Fold over right edge 9 1/2 inches toward center (it should overlap left edge by 2 inches). Pin, and stitch along open sides. Turn the cover right side out and insert the pillow!

Tiparoo: Don’t like the idea of lugging around a pillow with you to the beach or poolside? Why not try an inflatable pillow? Whaaaaat? Yup, they are easy to transport since un-inflated they fit nicely in that Summer Tote we just made and being small they won’t take much to blow up.

 

Sarong Cover-Up

Now let’s not forget about you.  At the beach sometimes you want to be covered up.  I know I do….. but perhaps you dont have a sarong.  Or you don’t want to buy one.  Well you can make one yourself! Isn’t that why you are here?  I have to give credit to Altered Cloth for this one and have you head on over there for the instructions and a video. Have fun with this baby!

Scrap Your Beach Day

And then when you come home, you can remember the special day with a scrapbook page like this!

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One way to tell that it’s summer is the food that is in season, particularly fruit. One great thing about living in southern California is the number of orchards, groves, farms, vineyards and so much more that are close. What’s cool about this is that you can buy food directly from the planters or even pick the food yourself to have some fun and ensure you get exactly what you want. And, it doesn’t hurt that most places don’t mind if you eat some food along they way 🙂 My sister Bonnie is fortunate enough to live very close to many of these places and loves to take her kids out to them year-round. This usually means apple-picking in the fall, pumpkin farms in late fall and cherry picking in the summer. One day when I was at her house last week, we decided to take the kids cherry-picking and I thought it was so fun that I should share it!

It was a beautiful day in the orchard and the trees seemed to stretch beyond sight. There were rows as far as the eye could see and each row was very, very long. We knew we wouldn’t even make it down one completely.

Asa wasn’t worried about how long the rows were, though. He was determined to get the best cherries and was just waiting for his mom to let him start picking.

And they were off! Off to find the best cherries, especially Rainier cherries, which Asa called reindeer cherries, but Aiden wasn’t about to let his little brother get better cherries than him.

A few couldn’t keep up with boys running through the orchards, but slow and steady wins the race.

The cherries were ripe for the picking as we came at the peak of the season. There were deep, dark red cherries as well as white-ish Rainiers to score.

Avery liked the cherries! He liked them so much that he ate more than he put in the basket. He also loved weaving in and out of the rows of cherry trees trying to play hide-and-go-seek and eating along the way.

Asa got some good cherries! He picked plenty of light, dark and the hues of red in between. He did a good job…..and also probably ate as much if not more than he picked.

Aiden got a few more than his little brother and wanted to pose with his bucket (fake smile and all). He got plenty cherries of different colors and tastes and sampled them all along the way, too.

So, Asa tried to keep ahead of Aiden in order to pick more. But in the end, they were pretty even (or big brother had slightly more).

Avery just had fun while the boys were scurrying acting like the pokey little puppy just checking everything out. So, who was the real winner that day? Just kidding! All of the boys had a blast.

I just had to add this photo. It was too perfect to not be in here 🙂

That was our lovely day picking cherries! We also got 2 jars of honey, one made from cherry trees and the other from wildflowers. Needless to say, they were both delicious, so much so that Asa kept trying to eat it by the spoonful by itself. Then I mixed some with Greek yogurt for him and he is now hooked 🙂 The boys now can’t wait for apple season to come!

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  • Angie B. - July 8, 2011 - 12:53 pm

    Oh wonderful. I think it’s a great activity for kids. My dad has a sour cherry tree in his yard. I just got a whole bucket of sour cherries. We like to take the kids to local farms for strawberry picking too.ReplyCancel

Happy Fourth of July! I hope you have fun today celebrating the birth of our great nation and all that it stands for. I love history and our country, so I thought I would share with you a few of my favorite stories from the American Revolution. I found them in a book I dearly love called The Wonder of America by Derric Johnson. I’ve had it since I was about 12 years old and it still remains one of my all-time favorites. So, I’ve picked out 6 short stories for you this Independence Day.

#1 “He’d been teaching school for two years when the war began. He was only 21 years old, a little above average height, with fair skin, blue eyes, and light hair. And, he was involved in the Long Island campaign that was just this side of disastrous. We were facing the enemy across the East River not knowing what their plans might be. Fearing surprise more than anything, General Washington wanted someone to sneak over the lines and get information.

Spying is a dirty job, and nobody wanted it; so Nate volunteered. There is something about taking on a job that’s got to be done that’s the custom of American heroes. Dressed like a Dutch schoolmaster he ventured through the enemy lines. He got what he went after and was on his back when the British found the information on him he admitted he was a spy, and they hanged him the next morning.

Before he died, he wrote a few letter home, but the British destroyed them so that “the rebels should not know they have a man who can die so firmly.” In his last moment, though, they let him say what he wanted to.

He was just a young who had no time to do anything memorable but die. So he and told them his rank, Captain, his name, Nathan Hale, and then he added:

“I only regret that I have bur one life to lose for my country.”

In so doing he showed the world what Americans are made of.”

#2 It’s one of the oldest popular songs around, dating back to 1500. Farmers sang it in Holland. And English version poked fun at 1 of England’s military leaders – Oliver Cromwell. The Italian made light of the men’s clothing style of the day.

When the British came to fight the Indians in the mid 1700’s, the Colonist sent local forces to help. A professional British army surgeon took 1 look at the strange garb of the American forces and wrote a poem. The men from America seemed so untrained. They couldn’t resist poking some fun. The words had a rhyme to them, and with a little experimenting, British regulars were able to put the new words to that same old tune.

But the Yanks liked it too. Americans, with the gift to laugh at themselves, started singing it, and soon the whole country was humming or whistling that simple tune. Then, when the Revolutionary War came, American soldiers made it their song by using it in the camps, on the march , and before going into battle.

Written by the British as a joke, it became a song they regretted. One British General in the midst of war said, “I hope I never hear it again.”

But they did! In particular, they heard it at Yorktown during the surrender of the British army to General Washington. And, as the Americans played that one song “Yankee Doodle”, over and over, a defeated enemy stacked their arms.”

#3 “Beyond the trenches, the allied armies formed 2 long lines: the French on 1 side, the Americans on the other. At 1 o’clock the British, marched out. Every 1 of them kept his eyes riveted on the French troops, as if trying to blot out those Colonials on the other side of the road.

Marquis de Lafayette snapped an order, and the American band exploded with Yankee Doodle. As if on a string, every British head was jerked around the sound, and they stared, unwillingly, into the eyes of their ex-subjects.

“Done in the trenches before Yorktown in Virginia, October 19, 1781.”  The British surrendered!

One of Washington’s aides, Tench Tilghman, was given the honor of carrying the victory report to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, and I suppose the story of his trip is the best possible illustration of the narrow margin between American victory and defeat.

When Tilghman arrived, he asked Congress to give him a draft of money to pay for the expenses of his trip. They couldn’t do it!

There was not 1 cent left in the National Treasury so each Congressman contributed a dollar out of his own pocket.”

#4 While he as in office, he was one of the most unpopular presidents to ever serve the United States. He was ridiculed in public print, accused of being power mad, and called a tyrant by a leading newspaper editor of the day. Some said he used the office of President just to gain favor and become rich, and critics didn’t even like the parties he gave. On and on it went.

His Secretary of State resigned in disagreement over foreign policy. 2 of his Cabinet members quit and formed an opposing political party to fight him. There were riots in the streets, and congress refused to give him an army to enforce the law. Everyone felt the United States was on the brink of a full-scale civil war. Predictably, scores of newspapers and many American patriots demanded his immediate resignation.

He ultimately declared: “I would rather be in the grave, than in the Presidency.” Sound familiar? No, it is not who you think it is.

This man was the man on whom later was conferred the highest honor possible: the undying title, the Father of his country. That’s right: George Washington.

Feelings may vanish with vision, and misunderstandings rise to cloud issues, but if God ordained this nation, then it didn’t come into existence to fail.”

#5 Every Congressional session begins with a religious moment that is unique in the governing of modern nations. Activity pauses as the chaplain, chosen by congress themselves, comes to the platform to the House to pray with and for the legislators. Many times the piety and skill of the chaplain determine the effectiveness of the day’s prayer. The impact of the singular message of each day’s prayer is less important, however, than the unchanging power of the tradition of the moment.

It all began when the first Continental Congress met to establish a United States of America, and it has continued through the centuries as we struggle to preserve our nation. One day the session was going badly. A clack of unity among the representatives was threatening to break up the anticipated union of the states.

Benjamin franklin spoke up that day: “Mr. President, I have live, sir, a long time. And the longer I live, the more convincing proof I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? Except the Lord build a house, they labor in vain that build it. I therefore move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven be held in this assembly every morning.”

It has been so ever since. And so may it ever be.”

#6 “It was at Valley Forge, almost 200 years ago, that the people of the United States proved that they had the courage to be a nation. Valley Forge is known as one of America’s finest hours, but the only battle ever fought there was the battle of hunger and cold and despair.

You see the plains of Valley Forge and Pennsylvania were the last citadels of a dissipated American army. After two disastrous defeats at the hands of the British, General George Washington had led his discouraged troops in retreat to Valley Forge for the winter.

The winds blew across the plains, and temperatures dropped far below zero in one of the worst winters in history. The General himself wrote “There are men in the camp unfit for duty, because they are barefoot and naked.”

The soldiers lived in small huts built of logs and clay. Many sat up all night by the fire because there were not enough blankets. There was near famine in the camp; men went for weeks without meat. But Washington provided strict discipline for strength, and his wife Martha tempered it with tenderness as she moved among the men daily, praying for them.

When spring arrived they took count. One third of the army had died and another third of the army had quit and gone home. The remaining third simply marched out and won the Revolutionary War.

The United States of America was born.”

Happy Independence Day! I hope you enjoy it and appreciate the country you are fortunate to live in.

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Every Independence Day my mother and mother-in-law have dessert traditions. My mom’s is a 4th of July Trifle. My mother-in-law’s is Ice Cream Pie. I think holiday traditions are awesome and I plan to have some of my own one day but for now I just stick with theirs!  So here are their 4th of July desserts recipes and stories that go along with our annual family desserts.

Ginny’s 4th of July Trifle

I have tried other trifles out there and they are for the most part pretty good.  But for some reason my mom’s seems so much better!  Maybe it’s just because it’s my mom, or perhaps she has some special trick that she hasn’t added to her written recipe.  No matter what, it’s nice to have a fun – and yummy – family tradition for the holiday.  Here is her recipe ad I hope you make it and enjoy.

  • Angel Food Cake (can be store bought)
  • 6 oz. package Vanilla Instant Pudding
  • 2-3 Cups of Fresh Strawberries (rinsed and sliced in half)
  • 1½ Cups Blueberries (rinsed and drained of all moisture)
  • 8 oz. Heavy Whip Cream

Rinse and lay berries to dry on paper towels to get rid of all moisture.  (This will keep the pudding from getting watery once you layer the berries on the pudding).  Prepare pudding according to package directions and refrigerate until set.  Cut Strawberries in half or fourths depending on the size of the berries.  Tear Angel Food cake into approximately 1½” cubes.  Assemble Trifle in a large, clear glass bowl.  Place ½ of cake cubes in bottom of bowl, spread ½ of pudding over cake, sprinkle blueberries over pudding. Place remaining ½ of cake on top of blueberries, followed by pudding and then a layer of strawberries.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.  Whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  Add 1tsp. of Vanilla Extract and 1-2 Tbls. Sugar (depending on your desired sweetness).   Mix until just blended.  Spread whip cream over the strawberries.  She likes to use additional berries to create a flag on top of the whip cream but you can just sprinkle a few berries and stick an American Flag in your trifle for a patriotic finish.

Karin’s 4th of July Ice Cream Pie

We all know it’s usually pretty hot in July and we usually want cool lemonade, ice tea, soda, popsicles and ice cream to make our bellies nice and cold inside.  For the 4th of July, my mother-in-law created a family tradition that satisfies that desire. Way back before Movie Star can even remember, his mom made a lemonade ice cream pie on the 4th of July.  And she only makes it on the 4th of July: never, ever any other day.  By doing this, she has trained a family to salivate on the days coming up to the 4th. He is actually saying right now how he can’t wait to eat this pie: “it’s going to be soooo good!”  I recommend you all head to the store and pick up these easy and quick ingredients for the perfect “after-BBQ pie”.

This recipe makes 2 large pies, and if you have a decent group getting together to celebrate our country’s independence, make all three.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Graham Cracker Crusts
  • 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream (or frozen yogurt if you’d like!)
  • 2 cans frozen lemonade (regular or pink, whichever you want.  You can even do one of each.)
  • 1 8oz. container of Cool Whip
  • 2 tsp. ginger (optional)
  • lemon slices for garnish

Soften the ice cream, frozen lemonade and Cool Whip.  Once softened, mix them all together in a large bowl and add ginger (1 tsp. per pie making).  Pour mixture into crusts and place lemon slices on top in any design you’d like as a garnish.  Place in the freezer and freeze until solid (usually 8 hours or overnight).

 

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Can you believe that it is July already?? Well it is, which means in a few days you are gonna have a major celebration on your hands. And with that comes guest lists, menus, firework shopping and decorations.Oh, did you forget that last one? Decorations often get pushed to the back burner as an unnecessary accessory. And who can blame us, we’ve already got a lot going on (see list above). That’s why I thought I would shake this Etsy post up and do something a little different. Earlier this week I received an email with some last minute Fourth of July Decor Tips. So I am going to share these tips with you, along with some patriotic inspiration Etsy finds to pull them together.

1.  To give your table a decorated look, layer the table cloths.  Mix colors, textures and sizes.  Try tablecloths with fringes.  If you are using a wooden table, don’t cover it entirely, let some of the wood show.

$25

This oilcloth gingham number layered over crisp, white linen should do the trick.

$25

Or for a less matchy feel, try this red toile with blue linens.

2.  For a cost effective alternative to fresh flowers, use fresh fruit as a centerpiece.  Find a tree bark as the anchor to the center of the table, add twigs and leafy branches from the garden and you can have a great centerpiece, most of which can be eaten later.

$18

Normally this piece would be NMSAA(not-my-style-at-all, for you non-geeky texters), but it is just wild enough to add some funk to your patriotic soiree.  Fill it with some bright red apples or Rainier cherries.

$15.95

 Or for a more demur look, try this guy with a little blueberry-strawberry yin and yang.

3.  If your party is outdoors, a fun addition to the Fourth of July decor are sparkling candles which are available at most paper supply stores.  Use votive candles and protect the flames with paper luminaries.  These makeshift lanterns can mark the pathways from the street to the party, decorate the buffet and add light to a darkened spot.

$3.50

This luminary is one of those Etsy products that you could actually make yourself and use this weekend.  Just paint an empty can, hole-punch as desired and fill with a candle.

$3.50

Here is another instant Etsy product.  This auction is for a custom template design.  You print at home and wrap it around the candle holder of your choice.

4.  Extra long wooden skewers are ideal for larger gatherings.  Earlier in the day skewer shrimp, chicken, beef, sausage, hot dogs and vegetables (cut into two bite portions).  Marinate and grill as needed.  It will take less time to grill and your guests will not need eating implements.

Sorry folks, there wasn’t a lot in the way of creative skewers at our favorite crafters website.  But I did find a few aprons so that you can look extra festive while you grill those skewers.

$29

This apron is so simple and fun.  I will man (or woman) the grill all day long if it means getting to look this cute!

$29

Can you get more All-American (or hyphenated) than red-and-white-striped, butcher-style, father-and-son, grilling apron set?  Well, of course you can’t!

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  • Dawn S. - July 9, 2011 - 10:53 am

    I love that red,white and blue apron!ReplyCancel

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