Sweet America,
You know,
God done shed his grace on thee.

He crowned thy good,
Yes he did,
With brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea.
//Ray Charles

Last week was 4th of July week and I had lots of fun things and traditions planned with my friends and family. What was extra nice was the three day work week and not having any weddings over the weekend. I actually had 4 days off in a row which is a rarity, especially during the summer months. After getting out of work Wednesday afternoon, the weather was beautiful and Nick and I had planned to head down to RI and the CT shore for a night by the water. I have been wanting to take him to my favorite Mexican restaurant, Milagro, for awhile now and it was a great night for it. But first we headed down to the RI shoreline to have happy hour at the Ocean House in Westerly because, why not!? Albeit pricey, it's such a beautiful hotel and restaurant right on Watch Hill Beach. I did a wedding here a few years ago and it was amazing, I am hoping to do another one there sometime soon! The Pinot I got was really good, and I am mad I don't remember the name of the wine... The little snack trio they give you is another fave, you don't even have to order appetizers! I caught Nick dipping the cracker into the olive juice/oil. Classic.
 Gorgeous view from our table on the veranda.

The ocean house is a stunning and gigantic old hotel. It opened it 1868, just after the Civil War, and has always been painted the iconic yellow color.

You can see Taylor Swifts 17million dollar mansion off to the right. Sadly, we didn't get invited over for tea and cookies. Maybe next time.

Getting ready for Fourth of July with lots of American flags across the property. It was a great time just sitting and relaxing and watching the sunset over the Atlantic. While we were inside at the bar for a bit, the piano player in the lobby was playing the instrumental from The Notebook. Doesn't get much more romantic!
The we headed off to Stonington to eat at my favorite mexican place, Milagro. I could practically live off of their Ceviche, it is one of my favorite dishes from any restaurant, anywhere. They also have really good home made margaritas in tons of different flavors. My favorite is the Strawberry. We got the Ceviche and Guacamole to start, and then I had a steak quesadilla and Nick had the seared Ahi fish tacos. Everything was amazing! It was already dark by the time we got there so I didn't take too many pictures, and I was too busy devouring my food anyways! We ate on the patio by candle light and it was really nice night.

We headed home shortly after that as we had to be up somewhat early the next morning to head up to Mass for one of my most favorite days/traditions of the year- THE THIRD! On the South Shore of Mass, it has been a long standing tradition that they have their big Independence day celebrations on the Third of July instead of the Fourth. The Third in itself has become it's own holiday, and it is just so so fun. You walk into a store or past people on the street and all your hear is "Happy Third!" or "Have a nice Third!". They takes their Thirds VERY seriously up there! They still celebrate July 4th, but it has become more of the relaxation/family day whereas the Third is the Beach-all-day-party-all-night day! The tradition stems all the way back to the 1800's and actually started in Plymouth and made it's way up the South Shore. It started as a day where everyone would bring their brush and old wood to the beach and have large fires to burn it off, and then the tide would come in and put the fires out and wash away the ash (brief article on it here and here). Over time it slowly transformed into what it is today. There are still giant bonfires, but now there are tons of un-sanctioned fireworks for miles and miles down the beach. People save up their bounty all year and blow everything off around 8-10pm on the Third. It's just an amazing sight and so so beautiful. The amount of American pride you see on that day is really amazing, and makes you really proud to be an American and live free in this country. I urge you to put it on you bucket list as it is something I think everyone should get to see and experience at least once. I have been going every year since I was about 16 and I think I am a lifer now. Without further ado, here are some pictures from THE THIRD!

Despite some sketchy weather predictions from earlier in the week- it turned out to be the most gorgeous beach day. 
The photo on the left is of the brand new "Woodsy's Wall", painted on a portion of the sea wall in Fieldston. We lost a good friend, Zac Woods, in a tragic boating accident three years ago on July 16th, and a mural has been painted on the wall in his honor ever since. Weather and deterioration caused the previous painting to have to be taken down, so a new one was sanctioned and just completed a few weeks ago. To learn more about Zac's story and how you can help the Woods family, please visit
I love being with people I love on the beach on the third- there's not much better!

Looking patriotic with my girls! Lea and I scored our Americana bikinis at Target this year. They had a big selection and the suits are usually less than $30! Auntie Judy somehow snuck in a photo bomb! 

We stayed on the beach as long as we could, but around 6 we headed down the the Venus II restaurant where Lea's Mom works as she promised us some margaritas. We also wanted to get some food in our stomach's before the fireworks and night time activities ensued. There was a bit of a wait for an outdoor table but all waits are made better with a big fat margarita in hand!

Janie, on the left, is a second Mom to me! I love her to death and she treats me as her Daughter. Her Sunday breakfasts and stories are some of my favorite memories. We went to Vegas in January with their whole family, I'll have to put a recap up of that trip one of these days!

Those eyes!! Dreamy McSteamy. 

I love spending time with my best friends.  These girls have been through thick and thin, or as we say "tick n tin", with me and I know I will always have them by my side no matter what life throws at me.
Nick has a serious eye-closing disorder and an amazing talent for ruining many a good picture. So the new method is just to keep sunglasses on him at all times, even heart shaped American flag ones.

The fireworks started before we were finished with our meals, so we caught a few from the deck and choked down our food in order to get back to Rexhame on time for the big stuff.

I love how this low-light photo actually came out red, white, and blue!

 Kelly went all out Americana, even dying her hair red white and blue! Dedication!

 This is what it's all about my friends! HAPPY THIRD!

After the fireworks settled down, we headed back to Lea's for a night of drinking and card games and shenanigans (thanks Joey). It is Third tradition that Lea has to get "iced" at some pint throughout the day. I think this is the fourth year in a row we have gotten her. Basically what you do is hide or conceal a Smirnoff Ice (a gross sweet acidic bubbly bottled beverage) somewhere, and if the person comes upon it and see's it they HAVE to get down on one knee and chug it. In years past its been hidden in her cooler, her towel, her purse, etc... this year we waited until the very end of the night, just when she had forgotten about the possibility of being Iced, and hid it in her mug cabinet at home. Sitting at the card table Lea went over to the sink and I causally asked if she could grab Nick a mug from the cabinet. She sarcastically said "No!" at first, but then smiled and walked over and opened the cabinet door. SURPRISE! She was so mad....
 A montage of previous years... we love you Lea!
We woke up on the Fourth to an expected rainy day. My cousins car had broke down the night before so before heading home we picked her up and I was given my "surprise" box in which she asked me to be one of her bridesmaids! I am so happy and excited for her and it is such an honor to be asked to be a part of her special day! The box and idea she put together was really cute, I would expect nothing less from a crafty and creative woman like herself!
We then made the trek down to CT in the pouring rain and dropped her off at her beach house on the CT Shore. The construction is coming along great and should be done in a few weeks. I can't wait, so I can only imagine how they feel!

After the pitstop in PB, we headed home for a little cookout and 4th celebration in the rain at my house. My Aunt Anna was here from PA and we just had a fun little group eating clams and burgers/hotdogs. My brother had a bunch of firecrackers so it quickly turned into a boy's round of "lets-blow-up-anything-and-everything-in-sight!" They were blowing up cans, bottles, buckets, garden beds, the pool, slugs and so on...! I think by the end my Mom was ready to kill them!

 Thanks to Grill Master Kev for cookin' up some burgers and hot dogs!
 These CRAZY fools decided to go in the pool! But actually, the pool water was 84 and the air was 64, so I can see their point. But still, too cold for me...
Mike was putting fire crackers in slugs (bless their souls), and one of them blew up and the slug shot ten feet through the air and landed ON his girlfriend Lindsay's shirt! Luckily they have been dating 8 years and this wasn't a first date, because it was pretty darn gross! But I don't think we have laughed that hard in awhile... my stomach hurt.
We spent the rest of the day playing games and laughing and talking, and then did some larger fireworks in our street at night. By the end of the day I was wiped from the past couple of late nights, so I went to bed early to be up to head down to PB for the forecasted gorgeous weekend. I got down nice and early and we headed right to the beach for the day! PB is my special place, I love it so so much.

While Jen's house has been under construction we have been staying at the Neighbors, who are also like family to us. And I mean, the accommodations certainly aren't bad there either! They recently redid their upstairs with hardwood and new paint, the room I stayed in was so cute! Check out the amazing ocean view from my windows, and the comforter is too cute!

Later that day we had all been invited to one of our neighbors house warming parties. They used to live a few houses down on the cove but recently bought and moved into a GORGEOUS estate on Sandy Point just a few miles away on the Niantic River. They are an amazing couple who have both worked so hard for what they have. They deserve every bit of happiness and success that they have achieved. Such nice and genuine people who appreciate what life is really all about. The party was so nice and they have a 180 degree view of the river and ocean.

Their Golden benny is so cute and friendly! He was making out like a bandit with all of the table scraps.

Everything in the house is beautifully decorated right out of Pottery Barn with subtle nautical flare everywhere you look. We got a full tour and it was amazing! 8 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, they have so much space and it all looked great.

The newly engaged couple! 
 Not a bad spot if you ask me....

    My Godparents took their boat Happy Ours over from New London and anchored off of the point from C+J's house and then just took the zodiac in to land. Not a bad way to show up to a party!

Love this one of my cousin and I! 25 years of friendship.

 A stunning home! Thank you for having us C+J!
We headed back to Jordan Cove and could hear and see fireworks from the dock the rest of the right. The sunset from my window was a deep orange and really pretty.

Sunday we woke up and I went with Doug and Jen to get breakfast sandwiches at Giuliano's in Niantic- they are BOMB if you are ever in the area! We then went to their wedding venue in Haddam to show Doug and finalize the paperwork. We were invited over to Jen's Uncles house across the cove for a BBQ that afternoon. Her cousin was up from DC with her boyfriend so it was really nice to get to see her as well. They have a beautiful home that my Grandparents were at one time going to buy before they owned it. Instead they bought a house across the cove two down from Jen and that is how our families met!
Uncle Clem bought and restored a 1991 Jeep Wrangler. A nice orange color, my favorite! It was really cool and I am jealous.

 Some paddle boarders and even PB off in the distance!
Some sweet wooden canoes that I believe Uncle Clem made himself. He has always been one to build boats and all kinds of things.
Here you can see our houses across the cove, and on the right is Uncle Clems house from the front.

I love the blue painted ceiling! I see a lot of houses on the Cape that have it as well. Very New England!
So after getting back, I am sitting on the deck minding my own business when suddenly I hear a rumbling and whooshing noise getting closer and closer. Next thing you know a HELICOPTER is landing about ten feet in front of me on the lawn! Sure enough Dan and Twink get out and it turns out it's their friends copter who just took them for a nice casual lunch on Martha's Vineyard. The life I tell ya.

Shortly after I headed back home to spend a little more time with my family before the weekend came to an end. My Mom has been busting out these bracelets, which we named 'BeBun' bracelets, and they are really sweet. They are made from bungee cord, DMC floss, and gems. If anyone wants one, let me know! They look really good stacked too.

As you can see, I was pretty much up and running from sun up to sun down over these four days. It was tiring but WELL worth it and so much fun. The summer itself it my favorite time of year but if I had to pick a time within summer that I like best, I'd have to say 4th of July weekend is definitely at the top. So fun to celebrate our independence and being an American with your friends and family in great weather and a great place. You really can't beat New England, in my very somewhat biased opinion ;-)!

See you back here very soon! As always, thank you for reading!

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