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Oh my Stars! “Red and white and starry blue the emblem of the brave and true! Hurrah for the flag of the free! May it wave as our standard forever, the gem of the land and the sea …” Celebrate this summer with patriotic themed picnics to formal dinners with the All American red, white and blue color scheme.

Show off your star spangled pride with a beautifully set table this 4th of July. Decorating with red, white and blue can be tricky for some, but with these simple ideas your table will have your guests saying… oh my stars! One of the first things to consider for this patriotic shin-dig is the location of the event. Whether entertaining in your backyard or by the lake, be sure to take advantage of the summer breeze and late afternoon shade. Locate the table to frame the view from each place setting so everyone has a lovely vista.

The all- star adventure begins with selecting the table(s) and setting the foundation for the dinnerware. For our table, a solid navy linen table cloth was chosen to compliment the multiple layers of colorful dishware. Layering plates will help repeat the color scheme as well as provide the necessary serving pieces for each part of the meal. The classic white dinner plates serve as chargers for this setting, with cobalt blue and red polka dot appetizer plates complete the colorful layers.

The true star at each setting is the red and white checked napkin that is sandwiched between the dinner and salad plate. The napkin is folded over itself to form a pocket for the silverware and placed at the top of the dinner plate instead of the traditional sides. This unexpected way to showcase the flatware will create interest and fun table conversation.

Here’s a decorating tip; when setting tables repeat the table cloth color at least three times in the setting to bring everything together; whether it is a napkin, a salad plate or place card setting. Feel free to use colorful melamine or paper dinnerware to create the same color scheme and ideas, especially if you are serving a crowd. You can set a lovely table using these creative dishes.

The shining star of this table is the centerpiece. To make this simple arrangement gather three glass canisters, a cake stand, white satin ribbon and felt star stickers to create a star-themed centerpiece. White satin ribbon bands surround the base of each canister while felt star stickers adorn the sides. The canisters are filled with fresh water and floating candles for a super-star centerpiece. As an alternative to the flicker and flame from candles, consider red carnations or Gerber daisies for a stunning and simple table centerpiece.

In keeping with the star theme and with eye- catching presentation, serve a delicious Cran-Raspberry Mirror Pound Cake for dessert on a star shaped serving plate. The almond flavored pound cake is baked in the base of a large cupcake-baking pan and frosted with buttercream frosting. In the center of the cake is a shiny jewel like mirror- reflected cranberry glaze. Fresh raspberries encircle the outer edge of the frosted cake. Cranberry juice concentrate produced the bright red mirror topping but any red juice concentrate can be used in this recipe. Thawed juice and cornstarch are boiled together until thick then cooled before adding to the frosted cake.

Everyone will say, “Oh My Stars” when they see this dessert and your lovely table.

So gather your family and friends together and celebrate this 4th of July by hosting a patriotic, flag waving red, white and blue gathering! And while you are celebrating the fireworks and sounds of Stars and Stripes Forever, take a moment to pray for our nation, the President, our veterans and those who are serving away from home. As John Phillip Sousa proudly penned, “Red and white and starry blue the emblem of the brave and true!”  Well said Mr. Sousa and God Bless America! Happy 4th of July!

National March of the United States, Stars and Stripes Forever, by John Phillip Sousa

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Liz Bushong is an expert in the three-dimensional art of entertaining. She transforms simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments by adding a touch of her own “sassy” style. For the past several years Liz been entrusted to decorate the White House for several Holidays. She is a featured monthly guest chef/designer on Daytime Tri-cities, Daytime Blue Ridge and other television shows. Liz is the author of the Just Desserts and Sweets & Savories cookbook as well as a contributing writer for VIPSEEN and Bella Magazine. For more information about Liz go to www.lizbushong.com or www.serveitupsassy.com