Happy Fourth of July, friends! Today we celebrate the great US of A and all of the men and women who have made all this celebrating possible.

In real life, we're headed over to a friend's house for a cookout/bouncy water slide kind of afternoon, and we'll finish it off with fireflies and fireworks in the backyard. On the blog here, I've decided to throw a pool party!!

I had an in-ground pool for two years when my family lived in a wonderful, warm climate, and I have such great memories of hot afternoons under cool water. These days I don't have the luxury of a pool in my backyard but I can still throw a great party, and I have one cooking for you!!

Louise, Mo (one of my favorite Canadians), and Jess have fired up some great recipes and fashions for you to kick back and enjoy on this beautiful day. Thank you, wonderful women, for coming over and setting the place on fire with your creativity. So, have a seat on the chaise, grab a glass of Southern Belle, check out what Mo's wearing, and be sure to grab a heaping helping of that orzo salad Jess put together.

Louise is a rockstar, and she runs the hot spot blog of Laid Off Mom. She finds greatness, creates beauty, and spins around town with her little ones with ease. She's also, "out to prove to everyone that being laid off is not the end of your life…but the beginning of a better world!!"  And she has made this delectable for us...
Catch more from Louise by following her on Twitter.


Mo is hilarious. And she also makes some great jewelry. And blogs. And teaches. Full-time. Check out her goods over at Mo' Funk Designs. She's also got some lovely pool apparel for us to look cool and collected for the fourth. Thanks for bringing your stylin' to the US, Mo (and I totally want that cover-up)!
Pool Party


Catch more from Mo by following her on Twitter!

Jess is a science educator by day, and a runner, reader, dog lover, and chef on the nights and weekends. She pretty much knows everything about everything, and she's cooked up an easy, scrumptious summer salad that I'm really looking forward to making for me. Here's Jess...

It seems the dog days of summer have arrived early this year. If you’re like me, your interest in cooking has hit a yearly low. Fortunately, all the wonderful fresh produce makes it easy to create simple, flavorful dishes, like this summer orzo salad.

I particularly love anything that allows me to incorporate farmer’s market finds and fresh herbs from my garden. This week, I was lucky enough to find some beautiful grape tomatoes, and decided to feature them as the star of a simple salad. I also decided that I would use my new favorite herb – boxwood basil.
I found this guy while shopping for herbs and veggies this spring and was immediately smitten. It tastes and smells just like a sweet basil, but the cute little leaves mean that no chopping is required! Less prep time = more time enjoying summer.

I love this salad because the light dressing really allows the flavors of the tomatoes, basil, and feta to shine through. It’s wonderful both hot and cold. It’s also very versatile. Substitute fresh mozzarella, cubed, for the feta, or add chicken or tofu to make this a more substantial main dish.
Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side.

Ingredients
  • 1 1/3 cup orzo
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 5 oz feta cheese
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Juice from one lemon (not pictured)
  • ½ - 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain well. Wash and halve grape tomatoes. Wash and finely chop basil.

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice. Whisk to combine.
In a large bowl, combine orzo, feta, tomatoes, and basil. Add olive oil mixture and toss to combine.
Serve immediately if desired, or store, tightly covered, in refrigerator. Best enjoyed on a deck or patio with good friends and a glass of wine.


Yum. Yum. Yum! Thanks so much, Jess. To hear more about what Jess is cooking up follow her on Twitter.


And last but not least (there's always room for dessert), I wanted to bring the blueberry cobbler recipe featured yesterday on Grown-up Goodness for you all to enjoy with a jumbo portion of vanilla ice cream.
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Loveliness!! I adore these kind of collaborations, and I just wish I could have these great ladies over for a real cookout (you would all get along so fabulously!!).

What's up for your Fourth? I'd love to hear.

Have an amazing Independence Day, friends. God bless America.

XOXO, MJ

P.S. If you're interested in collaborating on something really fun, send me an email at parscaeli@gmail.com...It'd be awesome to team up!!







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