A Vashon Fourth

A Vashon Fourth. A celebration of our nation’s birthday on the most beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest.

Fourth of July Angel Food Cake

I have always loved entertaining.

There’s something really great about throwing a festive and fun party. I don’t know if it’s creating the menu on Pinterest, decorating the house, or finding the perfect dessert to make that I enjoy most, but it’s all great. And whenever I get the chance to, I like to make it happen – or at least try.

Since starting to bake more regularly and searching for delicious recipes to create, I love it even more. Summer is full of so many party-worthy events, and Independence Day is no exception.

Fourth of July deck decorationsFourth of July decorations pinwheelsFourth of July decorations plates and napkins

When I moved to Vashon, my landlords had me sign the lease on one condition – that I allow them to come over on the Fourth because the view of the fireworks from my deck was that good. Of course I said yes, because that’s an easy compromise for a beautiful apartment. But it made me start toying with the idea of a party. That idea was in August… and then suddenly it was June, and I had to plan that party fast.

In a perfect world, I would create a fantastic menu and make every dish on it, provide loads of fireworks in every color, and all an assortment of beer and wine. Unfortunately, the world is not perfect, and that’s why potlucks exist.

Fourth of July Angel Food CakeFourth of July angel food cake with berriesFourth of July berry sangria

But I could control a few items, especially desserts. So, I decided to take to Pinterest and look for the best patriotic dessert I could find. I came across red, white and blue jello shots, loads of things covered in vibrant red icing and of course, berries galore. I try not to ingest Red #40 because, it’s bad for you, it dyes your mouth red, it’s bad for you and …. did I mention it’s really bad for you? So, I decided on a berry dessert – Angel Food Cake, topped with whipped cream, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Delicious!

My boyfriend Ben made a patriotic sangria, filled with delicious berries, champagne and white wine, but it took two trips to the store because the tap on the mason jar was not closed when all that delicious vino was being poured in. C’est la vie.

Remember that perfect world I wish I lived in? Well, over there you’d have a grill on which to cook salmon, burgers, brats, veggies… a girl can dream. But in my reality (which I am actually quite fond of) we have a fire pit and an oven. So, wonderful Ben took on the task of cooking the burgers and hot dogs in a broiling pan in the oven. Sometimes you gotta work with the imperfections – and it worked marvelously!

Fourth of July hamburgerWater balloons in a bucketSmores kit with Reese's

A few of my friends have small kiddos, so I decided to fill a bucket with water balloons for entertainment. What took me half an hour and a thoroughly wet shirt to complete, took little Anderson two minutes to destroy. But for those two minutes, he thoroughly enjoyed himself and the ground is grateful for the extra hydration.

Fourth of July baby playing gamesChild running across a lawnBaby sitting in grass

I think there is always a fear that not everyone will get along at a party you’re hosting. Maybe it’s just a fear my anxiety feeds. But I think as a hostess, you feel a responsibility to make sure everyone has fun. In the end, the worries aren’t worth it because corn hole, beer and burgers guarantee a good time.

Fourth of July sparklersFourth of July sparklersSitting in the yard on VashonBlue eyed babyBen getting ready to play cornholeFourth of July dog in a bandanaCamping and playing cornholeFourth of July dog and galLaying in the lawn

As the night wore on, fireworks began to go off around the bay – little bursts of golden plumes shooting up, mirrored in Quartermaster Harbor. Once darkness set in, we gathered on my deck and watched the most amazing fireworks show that really did live up to my expectations. It must have lasted for 20 minutes, each plume better than the last.

Quartermaster Harbor on the Fourth of JulyFourth of July decorations with lightsBen and fireworks on the deckBaby holding the American Flag on the Fourth of JulyVashon fireworks on the Fourth of JulyVashon fireworks on the Fourth of JulyVashon fireworks on the Fourth of JulyWatching fireworks on the Fourth of JulyWatching fireworks on the Fourth of JulyVashon fireworks on the Fourth of July

And when the city’s show had ended, explosions shot directly overhead by both sets of neighbors. With sparklers, a fire and Reese’s filled S’mores (the best way to do it), it was a perfect night. It just goes to show that you don’t have to have all of the best equipment or food or fireworks to have the best time. Things have a way of working themselves out. And this year’s Fourth was no exception.

Vashon fireworks on the Fourth of JulyVashon fireworks on the Fourth of JulyVashon fireworks on the Fourth of JulyVashon fireworks on the Fourth of July, sparklerVashon fireworks on the Fourth of JulyCampfire with S'moresFourth of July campfireVashon campfire

Despite a few bumps along the way, like bottomless sangria, cookies that didn’t quite turn out, and last minute cancellations, my first party in my island home was a great success. The island really provides all of the beauty and entertainment that you need, but a little corn hole and decoration never hurts.

Until next year, Happy birthday, America!


Author: Elise Giordano

Elise is a photographer living on Vashon Island in the beautiful Evergreen State. When Seattle became too much, she set her sights on island life and never looked back. Today, she is trying to find ways to slow down through cooking, gardening and exploring.

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