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I know that yesterday I mentioned that I’d highlight the 4th of July main courses and dessert next, but that was before I remembered that in addition to all the wonderful salads and sides my friends brought, I also made a few sides and salads myself. So let’s get to those first.

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July 12, 2016   No Comments

Rachael’s appetizer and little party bits

olive salami picks

Connor’s friend, Rachael, brought these super easy and super tasty little appetizer picks. Luckily I was able to snap a photo before they were all snapped up!

chip & dip

No one had signed up for chips and dip, so I asked Connor to provide those.

chip and salsa

You have to have chips and dip!

flag snack tray

I threw together a red, white and blue flag snack tray using, red grapes, banana slices, strawberries, yogurt covered pretzels, blueberries and raspberries.

white house

Lastly, I purchased a mock gingerbread house at Trader Joe’s, which was really a sugar cookie White House and I pretended like it was Christmas in July. I loved putting it together since our long family tradition of Marissa and Connor each assembling their own Christmas gingerbread houses has fallen by the wayside. Mostly because they hate it! Oh well, a mom can reminisce.

Tram and Scott

These were a few of the little extras at the 4th of July Party Pot-Luck Pool Party. The main course and dessert details will follow in the coming days.

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July 11, 2016   No Comments

Julie’s department store broccoli salad

George and Julie brought not only a tasty broccoli salad but their four beautiful children as well. Actually the party more than doubled in size from when I originally lamented about it being so small, in this post. That made me happy. My motto when it comes to parties is always “the more the merrier!” When kids and teens are added to the mix, nothing could be truer!

lawn games

Case in point – I asked Dave to please set up the ping-pong table and the lawn games; cornhole, ladder ball toss and croquet.

george and julie

He balked, saying that no one was going to play any of those things because it was too hot. I argued that people would hop in and out of the pool and I wanted there to be a variety of activities for them to choose from.

Um, do you want to take a wild guess at who was right? Those kids walked straight in the front door, through the house and into the yard. All games and activities were played, not only the ones above but also the pool volleyball and basketball and the putting green. Take that 109 degrees!

Back to the broccoli salad. Julie said the recipe comes from a department store restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. The store was called Lazarus & Co. and although it is no longer there, the salad lives on. Thanks for sharing, Julie!

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July 9, 2016   1 Comment

Michelle’s Ridic Salad

My cousin, Ty, and his beautiful wife, Michelle, brought a pasta salad to the potluck. She named it, not me. She cracks me up.

It’s not only ridiculously easy but also ridiculously delicious!

Ty Tram Twins

Above are the “Three T’s” –  Ty, Tram and the Twins. Below is Michelle with Zoey … doing … I’m not sure what but they sure are cute!

Michelle and Zoey

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July 8, 2016   1 Comment

Amy’s Quinoa Salad


Here are a few select images of decorations from our 4th of July Pot-Luck Pool Party.

RWB overload

hornet nest

west patio

star stripe lights

I say “a few select” because I had more than six dozen to choose from.


paper star

east patio


flag bucket

looking north


Believe it or not, I’m exercising a lot of constraint here.


open patio

White House




huge flag

hanging planter

flag star lights

flowers and pie

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July 7, 2016   1 Comment

easy peasy hand pies

open them up

This dessert recipe could not be easier or have less ingredients. Is four ingredients few enough for you?

dingstereats video


I made them for our small 4th of July Pool Party, so one batch is just enough. I found a video from dingster.eats on Instagram and immediately knew that this is my kind of baking recipe and that it would be perfect for the 4th.


They are made in Mason jar bands and are the cutest things ever.

I’ll also be baking my All-American Berry-Cherry Flag Pie.  For that recipe I’ll need a can of cherry and a half can of blueberry pie filling.


With that in mind, I decided to use three pie filling flavors for the hand pies; apple for the White, the other half of can of blueberry for the Blue and a few tablespoons of the cherry for the Red. For the flag pie, I plan to supplement extra fresh cherries for the cherry filling I swiped from the can. Ignore the can of peach pie filling, I was waffling between the apple and peach and ultimately decided that since it’s the 4th of July, it had to be apple!

One last thing – I used a Silpat to line my baking sheet. I don’t recommend that, the bottoms did not brown properly. Use parchment or just grease the baking sheet instead.

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July 3, 2016   3 Comments

Rosé, White & Blue

4th of july sangria

If you live in Arizona, you try to get out-of-town over the 4th of July weekend. If you are one of the unlucky few who are stuck here – welcome to the exclusive, yet unhappy, club.

We are in-town because we leave for a European river cruise in two weeks.  I know, I have nothing to complain about, except the heat!

Anyhow, I decided to make the best of it and host a Pot-Luck Pool Party. I invite 48 adults and their families. All but 12 of the aforementioned adults (along with two toddlers) are escaping the heat. Those lucky dogs!

That’s okay, the 12 of us are going to endure as we float in the pool, sip on this light and lovely rosé sangria and indulge Tram’s twins, Zak & Zoey, with all sorts of love and attention.

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July 1, 2016   2 Comments


the crew

Steve and Tram are building a new home. Their house recently sold and they have to be out in a month. They love to entertain but haven’t been in the position to do so for months now. The reason? Well, many of us know how difficult it is to keep our homes clean and ready to show at the drop of a hat. Imagine trying to do that with two full-time jobs and 2-year old twins. Talk about stressful!

last supper

Saturday night, the overachieving duo hosted an intimate dinner party. Steve was the stellar chef and pitmaster and Tram was the dessert queen.

a toast

It’s bittersweet to sell the house you brought your babies home to, so Tram lovingly called the evening The Last Supper. I call it a Housecooling, you know, the opposite of a Housewarming.

garnish picks

I created a new cocktail for the occasion, so in honor of Zak and Zoey’s first home, I’m attaching that moniker to the drink.

I’m already looking forward to the Housewarming Party!

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June 20, 2016   7 Comments

Watermelon Crawl

Kim sent me a video on Instagram from The Food Network. The video showed how to make a Watermelon Tiki Drink. Since Marissa was in town over the weekend for her best friend’s wedding shower, I thought it would be the perfect time to give the cocktail a try.

Watermelon Cooler

I’m calling it The Watermelon Crawl Cooler and I call it absolutely adorable and perfect for a summer pool party! I’ve even made a little movie for you. It’s at the end of the post. Oh, and be sure to turn on your volume – the song is awesome!

hand blender

You’ll need an immersion blender. The one in the video from Kim was fancier than mine. The edge was wavy and sharp and it cut into the watermelon.

press to score

Mine doesn’t have that ability, so I just pressed the hand blender hard onto the center of the watermelon to score it.

cut out

Next, I used a paring knife to cut around the score ….

remove top

… and cut out the top of the watermelon.

cut to level

Oh, and before you do any of that, check to see if your watermelon will stand or roll. If it rolls, slice a little off the bottom so that it will stand and be steady.

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June 13, 2016   5 Comments

LindaLand mocktail … or cocktail

When I entertain, I want everyone to feel special and loved. That means not only taking dietary restrictions and food preferences into consideration but also thinking of those who don’t imbibe. Often people think that individuals “of age” don’t drink because they have been through AA. But there are many reasons your guests may choose not to drink. A guest could be pregnant or trying to become pregnant (fun!) or it may be they’ve given up alcohol for Lent or for a diet. Or they are could just be taking a break from it after one of those, “I’ll never drink again!” weekends.

LindaLand Grapefruit & Rosemary Spritzer

No matter the reason, you want to offer them something more special than water, tea, coffee, Coke or soda water. You want them to feel like they are part of the party … because … they are!

Rosemary & Grapefruit Spritzer

I created this mocktail for just such an occasion. The best way to make all feel included is to create a full-flavored and well-rounded drink that tastes just as fabulous without alcohol as it does with it.

Not all cocktails can be turned into a mocktail. For instance, a dirty martini doesn’t make the cut. Your non-drinkers would basically be drinking olive juice with a couple of olives on a pick. That’s not going to happen!


This drink makes the cut and then some. I’ve named it after the nickname that Steve and Tram gave to my backyard because the main ingredients, pink grapefruit and rosemary, come from there. I’m calling the virgin recipe a Spritzer and the alcoholic version a Gin Fizz. Oh, and please don’t be intimidated by the length of the recipe. It is not at all difficult or time-consuming, it’s just my rambling instructions.

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June 9, 2016   10 Comments