Fantasy Fourth of July – Expat Chronicles


I live far from the fireworks, parades, picnics and red white and blue that punctuate every fourth of July in America. Of course here in Barcelona there’s plenty of pop, bang, crackle throughout the summer, especially on their biggest holiday of the season, Sant Joan.  On that day the amount of explosives expended would put any heavy metal pyrotechnics roadie to shame, but it ain’t no fourth of July.

Instead, I can only dream up a fantasy fourth of July picnic that I might have if I were stateside. I tried to find as many female makers as possible, but here and there I added some goodies designed by men or companies whose founders I could not identify.

Hope you enjoy the reverie:

Pentti Monkkonen art piece at New Jerseyy gallery

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First step: Picnic basket. For something a little different and romantic, vintage shop around for an old suitcase or wooden box to turn into a picnic basket.

Inside, pack a Marimekko tablecloth that blends in with the woodsy area you’ll be setting up – like this Siirtolapuutarha pattern (*designer: Maija Louekari):

image credit: The Lollipop Shoppe

*Marimekko was founded by Armi Ratia, one of the most famous entrepreneurs in Finland.

Then, prepare a table setting of vintage midwinter Jessie Tait ceramic soup bowls all around for the guests in this Ming Tree pattern. A cold soup like maybe a Vichyssoise would be delicious.

image credit: Grannies Kitchen Etsy Shop

Next, the plates. Something sturdy yet lovely like these Bongenre melamine plates designed by Jill Fenichell:

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Time to toast. Champagne for the adults. Kiddies get fruit punch (100% natural of course) in eco-friendly edible “jelloware” cups which are not yet for sale but were runners up at the GSS Jell-O Mold Competition in 2010:

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adorn with patriotic straws:

image credit: Showers Bring Flowers shop on Etsy

If it’s just a few people, bring along a brightly colored Bodum grill:

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Ideally though, you’d want to build a fire using this ingenious Prairie Campfire log holder by Maandag Meubels. This is the male designer I was talking about but it’s one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time:

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If you do use a grill and you want the warm glow of subtle lighting as the sun goes down and before the fireworks begin, try one of these eclectic candle chandeliers made from knick knacks and odds and ends by designer Madeline Boulesteix. Just tie a rope or metal wire between two trees and hang the chandelier from the center over your picnic blanket:

Then fill a bowl with themed cookies. Try a completely out of the ordinary juxtaposition. How about an upcycled PET bottle made into a jellyfish-like ethereal centerpiece bowl by Gulner Ozdagler:

Add some red, white and blue jelly beans by Jelly Belly:

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To top it off: Dylan Lauren (Ralph’s daughter) owns a popular New York candy emporium uptown called Dylans Candy Bar. She carries these quirky hamburger cookies. Add two or three to the bowl to add some old-fashioned Americana flare:

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And then go food shopping, invite your friends and family, and head to the park!


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