The 4th of July from Different Points of View


Nature’s Red (  Rose: Fourth of July )


White and ….


True Blue

With my beloved mom not getting any younger, I like to spend of  as many the holidays as possible with her. This year I thought it would be just the two of us, along with our furry friends. How quickly things change – forward to a cocktail party last weekend where I found a number of ‘4th of July orphans’ without plans. After a couple of rosés, I had the fabulous idea of inviting everyone who did not have a plan over. At last count I had 14 takers! Needless to say this week has been spent putting an impromptu party together. There would have been a time where such a challenge would consume my waking hours, but thankfully my newfound motto that ‘striving for perfection becomes less important as you get older,’ has let me off the hook somewhat. These days I remind myself that good company and good times alway trump immaculate presentation.

In situations like this, my pack rat tendencies really come into their own. I delved into my basement to discover some quirky, paper plates with matching accessories  purchased last year featuring little trails of ants – just begging for an outdoor occasion in which to be enjoyed.

Somewhat further from my basement, I popped into my favorite Crate & Barrel on Madison Ave. ( only to find the store is closing  soon yet another victim of rent increases, but don’t get me started on that.) So more plates, glasses and other goodies were added  and hauled off to the basement – this time perhaps with a rather more eastern bloc feel ( they would work well for a party in the former USSR)  but I fell for them immediately and they now too will join in the mix of a rather last minute  celebration.

Which brings me to the menu. A demand for Kosher hot dogs by one friend,  ribs for the St Louis girls (my mom and godmother, who is making the trip just for the occasion) and growing list of friend’s favorites and traditional fare. So, thus far we have :

Deviled eggs-made with small pheasant eggs, potato salad, corn on the cob, a special salad with kale, red cabbage, toasted almonds and dried cranberries (instead of coleslaw – the only healthy thing on the menu) fried chicken,  BBQ ribs (not the sticky  sweet kind I grew up with but a 5 hour slowly cooked version that is so tender the meat almost falls off the  bones and in my opinion this recipe is a more sophisticated flavor.) Hot dogs ???? From the grill I guess, strawberry shortcake, per another friend’s request, AND sour cherry pie – my favorite with homemade ( maybe, depends on time) vanilla ice cream!


As you know, when it comes to the 4th, decorations are all important, and of course I haven’t skimped there. The puppies will be adorned in stars and stripes bandanas, golden sparklers in lieu of big fireworks, and flags a plenty.

Below are four different approaches of how to celebrate. So, if you are having a big bash, a small dinner party, spending it with just family, or having a restful 4th alone-watching “Yankee Doodle Dandy” a bit of the red, white and blue is nice.

Happy 4th July from my eclectic crew to you!  – Carolyne

What happens if the picnic is rained out? Move to the porch – and carry on!
Lucky waiting for the rain to stop so we can carry everything out to the garden – alas as it is pouring this morning we ended up on the porch. So I spread a raffia mat  and set up lunch for us.


This year’s ant theme – now I  see the ants on real plates and cups, they are multiplying not only paper!



The club sandwiches of pate, baby pickles and a course mustard.

IMG_5218I love stripes, checks and plaids all mixed together – they are doing so many wonderful paper and plastic products today – far removed from the white ‘chinette’  paper plates and Dixie cups from my childhood!

IMG_5259The picnic basket full of extra goodies including sparklers for later.


The paper bags contain  lunch. I found these checked  bags in which I placed a plant for decoration. Easy to carry to a picnic point – if only the rain stops!


Lastly, what is more American than watermelon and homemade chocolate chip cookies?


Dining on trays alone or a deux – peaceful and calm.
If you are alone or with just one other person and opt for a tray in from of the TV, something as simple as variegated red and white carnations add a touch of celebration to my collection of blue and white.


Simple and inexpensive variegated miniature carnations ( isn’t nature wonderful?!)



I love the look and taste of red cherries – here are the sweet variety, but for my pie I prefer the tart ‘sour cherry.’


I love this Portuguese Vinho Verde – I think more for the label and the pale blue glass bottle then even the taste; it is bright and slightly effervescent, plus it has has a lower alcoholic content, so one can stay awake for the fireworks!


Another sort of picnic ( below), variations and patterns of red, blue and white.

Years ago I bought about two dozen red tins because the red was a great color (I named it Maserati).  I have packed individual suppers in them and trimmed in the 4th colors.



I love these little individual champagne bottles, so festive – no Coca Cola for my crowd!



Love the mixing of patterns.


Crate & Barrel’s paper products for this year – no I do not work for them or get paid by them, I just think they have a really a great product design team!  For instance, the blue and white traditional ‘ takeout’ containers above – tie a daisy (or similar) to them and it’s an instant party.


Cupcakes only a mother could love – Martha Stewart, where are you and your team when I need you?!


I use the bamboo flatware all summer long.


As mentioned, as my impromptu 4th July party has grown, I have added more Soviet inspired plates, red plastic stemware and little star bowls. Pictured are merely the elements I shall be using – the flowers may change – on Thursday  or Friday.  I will figure out the final look, could be sunflowers, perhaps red and white carnations, or daisies of some sort….all I know is that while  it may not be up to previous party standards, the important thing is to be together with friends and hopefully have some good laughs. The food and wine will be good, that I know. I cannot control the weather,  nor will I work my self into a frenzy of perfection with place cards….. and all the ‘stuff’ ….. I just want to share a moment with those I care about!

I am traveling during the week and as a result everything will be rather last minute,….. I shall try to send some ‘realtime’ pictures of the table once completed for you to see the final results.



Daisies (or Daisy like forms, as these are Chrysanthemums) always seem so American and very modern to me.


We are lucky to have delicious local strawberries.


Is there anything more wonderfully graphic than Ole Glory??


The veranda at Weatherstone – those old stone walls were put up in 1765!


Love these little star ramekins filled with strawberry sorbet and local fruit.


















22 thoughts on “The 4th of July from Different Points of View

  1. I usually place red and white flowers in my cobalt vases too. I too have “A Passion for Blue and White”, and I started my collection after I graduated from high school. I finally bought your book last week. I have many blue flowers in my garden, but I am always looking for more new varieties. None of those plants are good cutting plants though. I am moving back to the Mid-West this Autumn and I wish I could take some of my perennials with me. I am not sure how that will work. Gardening has become my peace along with swimming in the Bay. I like your notebooks too. Someday.
    Have a good week!

  2. Carolyne.
    Your 4th July Celebration WILL be perfect in every way,as it is in your DNA ! That’s YOU!

    I love it ALL, but think the shiny red plate settings might be my favourite,and I LOVE the thought that you will be having kosher coctail viennas.which are from Blooms here in the UK!

    HAPPY Fourth of July to you and your mother ,and all your guests. Wendy’x

  3. I love the bold and vibrant colors and the simple, but nevertheless beautiful, flowers. Your concept is straightforward and fabulous. You know you’re going to be copied! Have a great celebration with your mother snd friends.


  4. Nobody could make paper plates look so elegant and inviting !!!! Your posts are a true inspiration to all and the photography is so well done. I so enjoy all of your posts—-your interests and creativity are such a joy to me !!!!!

    You are a mentor to all who love beauty in all forms. Also love your Charleston new (old) home—–look forward to more posts. Happy 4th you you and yours !!!!!

  5. Carolyne,
    Every photo in this posting is a wonderful class in design.
    Your creativity is endless!
    Thanks for sharing and Happy Fourth!
    It’s taken a lot of us a lifetime to figure out that it’s not about the stuff on the table, but who’s at the table to share in our celebrations. (Having said that, it’s nice to have beautiful things on the table too!)

  6. So festive looking as always. Your eye for detail and color is inspiring as always. We and our pups will be spending the 4th traveling from our home in Missouri to see the final rebuilding of our tornado struck home in East Texas. All of our flower beds and landscaping have been destroyed, so I have been going through all your books to have our landscaping crew start from scratch, so I can implement a lot of great gardening ideas that you have inspired me for all these years. Best wishes to you and Mom this coming 4th…………………

  7. Love all your Red, White and Blue – so patriotic and so crisp! Spent last 4th July celebrating with family in Marblehead – will miss them this year, but will see them for Thanksgiving. Have an enjoyable party with your Mom and friends.

  8. It sounds delicious. You grab me with the chicken and ribs. But, killed me when you said C&B is closing on Madison. I hate to know what is replacing it.
    Happy 4th of July. May it be filled with sunshine, clear skies, and mild temperatures.

  9. All I can say is Stunning!!!!!!!!!!!! How lucky are your guests to be invited to such a feast for the stomach and the eyes.
    Enjoy my dear. God bless and Happy Fourth.
    Wishing your mom a happy day as well.

  10. Dear Carolyne,

    Thank you for a most colourful post. We don’t celebrate the 4th July in Australia of course, but it must be wonderful to have another occasion to decorate and celebrate.
    Your garden looks very lush and green. I am amazed how it recovers after the harsh winters.
    Looking forward to obtaining your garden book in October.

    Marie. ?. ??

  11. Dear Carolyne,

    I forgot to mention how I would love to take a peek in your basement. More like an Alladin’s cave I imagine.


  12. Carolyne,
    I love your fun, festive table, you are inspiring me to get my patriotic decor out and start seeing a little red, white, and blue for this 4th of July. Your miniature carnations are just Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your ideas.
    Have a wonderful 4th,

  13. Hi !
    You have inspired me to do something totally different for our July fourth celebration. All three of our grown up sons will be home and I’m thinking they would LOVE your St. Louis BBQ ribs. I have the St. Louis Junior League cookbook but alas, not a single recipe for ribs. Do you have a recipe you can recommend or share ? Many thanks, Kathleen

  14. Carolyn,
    Thanks for sharing your creative genius ! It all looks gorgeous . Happy 4th of July ! Annie.

  15. I’ll be travelling to yours and mine home state for the 4th – Missouri! You’ve given me some great ideas for our party before the fireworks show.

  16. Pingback: RED, WHITE AND BLUE-INPSIRATIONS FOR YOUR 4TH OF JULY PARTIES » Kathy Miller Time Tailgating Blog Entertaining and Travel

  17. Carolyne–your photos and narratives always remind me that the world is filled with profligate, abundant beauty. Whether it’s one flower or masses, one decoration or a tabletop of rich, tasteful hues, the pictures constantly reinforce that fact that life is worth celebrating.

    Then too, I know that much of this is your unique zeitgeist…your gift in sharing the world as you see it with others.

    I remember in one of your books–the Fall Notebook, I think— you had just been on a walk in the woods and brought back handfuls of chestnuts and berries. A few moments and some sticky florist’s clay later, and you had this to-die-for, hunt-breakfasty bouquet…

    Much depends on the seeing eye.

    Then there was–first book, I think—this tableau with an arbor dripping with Constance Spry roses…and an exquisite table set in pink and green…even a meal that matched–I stared and stared at those pictures!

    Great moments that truly enriched my life, as these photos and narrative do. Thank you so much for that!

    Regards, Sally

  18. Gorgeous and ery well done for an “impromptu” party. You have suh gifted way of putting together various things and making the whole perfect.

  19. Dear Carolyne,

    Hope your 4th of July went well.

    Which room are you working on now at Charlston, or is the house finished?

    ? Marie ?

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