It’s Not the 4th of July Without Fireworks

image courtesy of npr.org

Independence Day is coming up, which means great food, the outdoors, family time, and – most of all – fireworks! Dazzling displays of fireworks are the biggest definers of July 4th celebrations for most Americans. But have you ever thought about why that is and where they came from? Most historians track fireworks back to a Chinese tradition that started as early as 200 B.C. According to legend, a Chinese cook accidentally spilled saltpeter into a fire with sulfur and charcoal, creating a loud noise and orange flash of light in the flame. Around 2000 years ago, it appears that Chinese alchemists began combining these elements of saltpeter, charcoal, sulfur, and other ingredients to create a substance similar to gunpowder, and then stuffing them into bamboo shoots and throwing them into a fire. This created an even louder explosive blast and brighter, orange flashes of light. It became a popular and traditional way of warding off evil spirits, and, to our advantage, marked the birth of the first fireworks.

By the 13th century, paper tubes had replaced bamboo stalks and fireworks were being used throughout Europe to commemorate military victories and enhance public celebrations.

It is thought that Captain John Smith was the one who introduced fireworks to the New World, its first fireworks display in Jamestown in 1608. However, the 4th of July fireworks tradition began in 1776 when John Adams wrote a letter to his wife the day before the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. In this letter, he predicted the role of fireworks in Independence Day celebrations: “The day will be most memorable in the history of America,” he predicted. “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade…bonfires and illuminations [a term for fireworks]…from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.”

Well, it looks like John Smith was right! The following year, and each subsequent one, fireworks have been ignited to mark the celebration of Independence Day and other nationally recognized events.

I know my Fourth of July won’t be the same without gorgeous bursting displays of fireworks. I love celebrating the 4th of July at the beach and watching how the fireworks are mirrored onto the water. Where is your favorite place to celebrate Independence Day?

Berry Delicious Summer Pudding

image courtesy of food52.com

Summer is here and I always find myself indulging in yummy seasonal fruits around this time of year – they’re just too good to resist. It seems that every time I go to the market, I make the mistake of overbuying fruit and forgetting to remind my family to eat it. I hate letting the fruit go to waste and recently came across a brilliant recipe on food52.com for Berry Summer Pudding. There are only a few easy ingredients and you can change up the fruit combination if you want (this recipe calls for blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries). It’s perfect to top off a summer cookout if you have a surplus of uneaten fruit and white bread hanging around ( and even stale bread is ok for this).  So celebrate, have some friends over and enjoy the sweetness of summer and this delicious recipe!

Father’s Day Gift Solutions For Every “Type” of Dad

Father’s Day is right around the corner… What will you get to spoil your special man? If you’re scurrying for gift ideas, that makes two of us. I’ve found that the first rule of Father’s Day Gift Giving is to narrow the search: what kind of dad do you have? Is he sporty, dapper, tech-savvy, a foodie, a music lover, a businessman, or crafty? Here are a few suggestions for each type of dad:

1. For the sporty dad: make his favorite sport a family affair. Whether it’s tickets to see his favorite team play or a set of tees and golf balls, he will appreciate the time he can spend with the family more than anything.

2. For the dapper dad: find him a nice watch and add in the Linnea’s Lights earthy, rugged, and masculine Vetiver candle.

3. For the tech-savvy dad: a lightning bolt shaped power strip is a fun gift to keep all of his tech devices “fully charged”

4. For the foodie dad: beer, bacon, and chocolate… What more can a man ask for? This Beer + Bacon Gift Box is especially perfect for your foodie dad.

5. For the music-loving dad: get him nice wireless Bluetooth speakers, or even tickets to see his favorite band play!

6. For the businessman dad: if your business dad travels a lot, this Art of Shaving quartet of essentials for the perfect shave is great and carry-on friendly!

7. For the do-it-yourself dad: this 6-in-1 “pocket-sized toolbox” keychain is perfect for your handyman. You could also come up with a crafty project he would love that the two of you can do together.

No matter which type fits your dad, your gratitude and the time you spend with him are the gifts he will value most. Get him something useful, or even better, something you can do together. Good luck and happy Father’s Day!

Teacher Appreciation: An End-of-School Gift Idea

Image courtesy of indulgy.com

Now that my kids’ academic year is coming to an end, the hunt for teachers’ gifts is just beginning.

I always feel that teachers aren’t thanked enough for their hard, endless work. When the end of the school year rolls around, I like to gift a small token to show my gratitude and I’ve found that an easy, appreciated and good go-to gift idea is one of our relaxing Linnea’s Lights scented candles, like lavender. One thing you shouldn’t forget is to make the gift impressionable and personalized and I love to do this is by getting crafty. Add a handwritten quote on the candle or on a gift tag; my favorite for the occasion is a quote translated from Turkish:

“A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others”

~Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

It’s a simple and meaningful way to express gratitude to the teachers who have helped our children grow. If you aren’t located near one of our retailers, the therapeutic Lavender Mini Votive can be found online at Urban Farmhouse for $15.