Friday, July 9, 2021

Five Loves on Friday // Celebrations Galore for the 4th and More!

Happy Friday, sweet readers and cherished friends!  It has been such a wonderful week, overflowing with celebratory goodness, patriotic partying, and festive food!  My heart is full and I can hardly wait to share a handful of loves with you today.  Let's get right to the good stuff...

 One  //  Celebrating America with Family, Food, and Fireworks

The annual fourth of July celebration that my hubby's folks host at their home in the peaceful countryside of Nebraska is something that we look forward to all year round.  I hadn't seen this side of the family since Christmas, so the reunion was as sweet as the cheesecake my sis-in-law brought that day.  We chatted for hours, catching up with everything from what's new in our personal lives to the bigger events of the world around us.  The conversation, laughter, fun & fireworks, all of it - did my heart good!

Shortly after the sun went down we all stepped outside as Jason and our brother-in-law prepped to light up the night.  They put on such a spectacular show!  It was hands down one of the best nights of the year. 

Happy 245th Birthday America!

Two  //  4th of July "Just Us"

The past few years our girls have requested that we keep the night of the fourth open to celebrate at home just the four of us.  We happily honor their request, knowing well that we may not have many more holidays when this is the case.  I praise God continually for knitting us together as a close family.  These are the "good old days" we're living in right now.  Both of our girls (who are growing up way too fast) are still here at home with us and desiring to enjoy family time together.  I don't want to take that for granted for a second!  I'm wholeheartedly soaking up this sweet season of life!

Ok, I'll start the recap when the holiday plates came out.  That's when any holiday officially begins, right? ;)  For lunch Jason grilled us some "red hot dogs" that he picked up a local butcher shop.  They were perfectly themed on our "Party like it's 1776" plates.  For dessert I baked a batch of mini chocolate chip cookies.  After all, what's more American than that?  Apple pie you say?  Well, that's for dinner!

I must confess this snapshot is actually of my oldest daughter's hot diggity dog.  Mine was a mess of ketchup, hot mustard, relish, and mayo.  It tasted much better than it looked, so I'll spare you that particular pic.  Ha!

American as Apple Pie Ribs

I was an eager to sample this scrumptiousness from the moment my husband mentioned trying this American as Apple Pie Ribs recipe and it exceeded my expectations!  Best ribs I've ever tasted!  It was a meal fit for the 4th, indeed!  

Little One had pulled this patriotic light up unicorn headband out the day before, thinking her cute little cousin would love it.  Having it handy she incorporated it into a fun 4th look pairing it with a patriotic tee, a cute little skirt, and the best accessory, the grand old flag!  

I wore my late Grandma Pat's red, white, and blue floral pin.  My grandma loved celebrating holidays.  My love of celebrating life in general definitely stems from her sweet influence.  Pinning on that patriotic brooch that I remember her wearing annually over the years made my heart happy.  I asked Jason to take a pic so I could text it to my parents to show them.  He not only took one snapshot but did an entire silly photo shoot.  Here's one such sideways snapshot. He's pretty cute, so I think I'd hire him again. :)  Do you have any pieces from your family that bring you joy to see, wear, or display during holidays? 

A simple celebratory spread of red, white, and blue cookies 'n' cream candy bars, patriotic peanut m&m's, s'more oreos and olympic oreos complete with crackling popping candy inside accompanied us as we moved our party outdoors.

We always buy smaller fireworks to set off at home on the evening of the fourth.  "Princess" lights them off while we relax on the deck and delight in our daughter's show.  Afterward the girls broke out some neon sparklers for some old fashioned fun.  Anyone remember back in the 80s when sparklers were basically metal hazards in your hand?!  I burnt myself as a kid and haven't ever really enjoyed them much since. Ha!

My whole heart in one snapshot.  I love them so!

Independence Day isn't quite complete without an ooey gooey s'more.  These were a sweet way to cap off a fantastic family day! 

Three  //  A Bonus Day with my Loves

My hubby and firstborn both had Monday off.  Bonus days together like these are the absolute best.  While the girls slept in a bit I made a couple ham, egg, and cheese sandwiches for my hubby and I to enjoy out on the deck.  We chatted and chowed.  It was so nice to have a slow Monday morn.

We hadn't made plans for the day and when I suggested a drive out to and through the wildlife safari park the whole fam was on board, so off we went! 

We'd never visited the safari park in July before.  It was neat to see the elk with such long antlers!  In the past we've only gone in the spring when they have nothing more than little stubs.

"You are beautiful!" I said (perhaps, repeatedly) to this gorgeous elk.  What a stunning sight.  The beauty of God's creation is awesome!

Cute cranes strutting their stuff

Lavender loveliness

Bison a plenty

The symbol of the land I love

Four  //  Celebrating the 1st Anniversary of Jason's New Job 

Wednesday marked one year since Jason started his new job.  It was the perfect occasion to reflect on God's goodness in providing for our needs through my hubby's wonderful new position!  I'm so grateful and incredibly proud of how well he's doing.  It was also a good excuse reason for a midweek pizza party, Jason's pick and I wasn't a bit upset about that.  Cheese covered carbs are one of the best ways to celebrate. :)

Five  //  Happy to be Blogging Again + the Return of Trip Report Tuesdays!

After over a year away from this little space I call my home on the web, I must say, it feels great to be back!  I'd like to take this opportunity to extend a heartfelt thank you to readers and friends who have sent such kind messages and comments my way!  The warm welcome back from everyone who met me here when I returned meant the world to me.  I'm thankful to have each of you here today!  

This week I revisited a series that I started way back in 2013.  That year Jason made my dream of staying at Disney World for 15 nights for our 15th wedding anniversary come true (and then some, it was our first 17-day trip)!  My dear friend Chrissy said she wanted to hear all about our trip and I didn't even know where to begin!  So, Trip Report Tuesday was born.  Over the years TRT became a way to share our adventures with family, friends, and readers who were interested in hearing more about our trips or who simply wanted to hop online and scroll their way through a virtual vacay.  It quickly turned into a digital scrapbook of sorts for my family too.  

I didn't recap the 20th Anniversary WDW trip that Jason and I took in 2018 or our Christmastime Disneyland family vacation in 2019.  I've since regretted that as there have been many times since when we wanted to easily revisit those memories in trip report form, but they don't exist here.  I decided that I wouldn't make that mistake again, so after our recent summer vacation I decided to capture those memories and share here with Trip Report Tuesday posts throughout the month of July. The first in this new addition to the TRT went up on Tuesday recapping our travel day to the Black Hills of South Dakota complete with waterfalls, Badlands, dinos, and the charming Lodge that stole my heart!

Falls Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Badlands National Park, Wall, South Dakota

Spearfish Creek at Spearfish Canyon Lodge in Savoy, South Dakota 

If you missed this trip report, here's a direct link to the post:
You can find all my previous trip reports covering our cross country road trips, adventures across California, Walt Disney World and Disneyland here or in the trip reports tab at the top of the page.

I also invite you to hear the peaceful surroundings of that adorable footbridge with the crystal clear creek flowing beneath it in a video I shared this week on Instagram.  Here's a direct link to my IG account:  chattingoverchocolate_brenda on Instagram

Thank you so much for visiting today!  I'm so happy to have you here!  Wishing you a wonderful weekend ahead!


  1. The Safari park is one of our favorite places here. Your 4th of July with your family sounds like such a lovely day of celebration and so glad your hubby is doing a great job at his newish job lol

    1. I can absolutely understand why the safari park is one of your faves! It is such a cool place! Thanks for sharing in our joy over 4th fun and my hubby's job going well! :D

  2. I loved hearing about your week. You should still post your previous Disney World trip reports here. I always looked forward every Tuesday to reading them

    1. I've been really considering recapping those trips, despite it being so delayed. I appreciate your encouragement to do so. It makes my day hearing that you always looked forward to them. :D Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to leave this sweet comment too!

  3. Five Loves will forever be one of my favorite things to read on Fridays! :) So happy to see you back at it, writing about your celebrations-big and small! Your way of celebrating ALL the things brings so much joy to all those around you!

    1. You bring happy tears to my eyes and a smile to my heart, sweet friend! Thank you for adding joy to my days with each comment you leave for me here! They (and you!) are greatly appreciated! *hugs*

  4. Lots of yummy food for y'all! I'm definitely going to have to go read and pin your badlands trip. It is definitely on my list! We are headed to Montana in September for the first time and I'm so excited.

  5. Sounds like a perfect 4th of July! While I love getting together with our families, there is nothing quite like "just us" family time :) Haha and we bought those same oreos the other week! The ones with the pop rocks in them were definitely the favorite of us 4!

  6. It's so nice you got to get together with your family! As always you had some delicious looking eats this week! That safari park looks like fun. My family loves animals. Hope you had a great weekend! Glad to see you back to blogging!

  7. So you put ketchup on hot dogs? So do I but my husband argues that I shouldn't!


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