Sadly the city had stopped their fireworks show for several years due to budget concerns, so I had to find other fireworks to attend instead of hosting my party, but finally in 2014 I could host again…hooray! What was only 16 RSVPs the day before became 28 people including 2 babies and 4 super-excited girls under 7! It was warm but thankfully with a nice breeze making the flags fly and requiring jackets after dark. I brought back my favorite foods from previous parties, plus some new Star-Spangled S’mores, and we were able to have a great game of Rock Band for an hour before the fantastic fireworks started!
I think this might be the quickest turnaround time between two totally different major parties, since only 6 days earlier was the big Cinema Brittahytta Frozen Sing Along! I have had fireworks parties soon after other movie nights, but those aren’t usually a major production. This time I quickly undecorated from Frozen and cleaned up, then it was full blast into the 4th!
I had made star croutons before out of some thin frozen cocktail bread in the freezer leftover from Christmas appetizers, but those were long gone, so this time I used a small loaf of homemade whole wheat sourdough I had baked and frozen. While it was still pretty hard, I cut very thin slices, then after the slices had thawed, I used my tiny star cookie cutter to cut all the croutons. On a non-stick cookie sheet, I sprayed them with olive oil and sprinkled some garlic salt and lemon pepper, then toasted them at 350F for about 5 minutes or so. They were nicely crunchy but not even browned, which was perfect. I had new guests who were amazed I even had star croutons! 😉
I’ve been trying to experiment with all these new “superfoods” like chia seeds and quinoa, but I haven’t liked them in any recipes yet. Since my tasty Apricot Cashew Rice Salad always was better with wild rice anyway, I thought I could try quinoa and see how it worked. I thought I was making a double-batch so I made the oil dressing accordingly, but even only pouring a single-batch amount of the dressing on the double-batch of quinoa, it didn’t soak up anywhere nearly as much as rice, even after 2 days in the fridge! Duly noted for next time, but everyone agreed it was tasty! Too bad it’s because of all the olive oil, cashews and the wine-soaked dried apricots, so all that probably offsets any of the superfood qualities of the quinoa. 😉
I did get the Stars & Stripes Brie baked and the Corndog Sparklers fried by 2:15pm, but that wasn’t early enough, and I didn’t quite have as much ready the night before as I would have liked. This meant I was still trying to write on the menu chalkboard while the first few guests were arriving. Ellie set out crackers, helped assemble the green salad and stirred the fruit salad, and Sheila dished up the sweet potato salad and arranged the s’mores, including breaking up the graham crackers and chocolate bars. Thanks for being such good helpers!
Since the food was set out, I had time to socialize, and not forget to take photos this year…hooray! I had lots of leftover ice pucks from the Frozen Sing Along party so why not make more snow cones? The girls had lots of fun with this! As soon as Annalise arrived, she & Ellie were on snow cone duty, asking everyone else to be a customer so they could grind another ice puck into snow. Lucky me got to be their first snow cone customer…yum!
There was also an advance request for face painting, since Ellie had just done it at school, so I got out my kit and my big hand mirror, and set them up at my plastic table in a shady corner on the grass. I think Ellie was the only painter, but the girls looked like happy customers to me!
By the time we had more shade in the backyard, most of the guests had arrived, thankfully no one ever needing the parking shuttle service I had prepared for yet again, and the guest food table on the outer patio was chock full of deliciousness! The grill was going thanks to Kevin on coal duty, including grilling some watermelon (yum!), and plenty of partying people were enjoying themselves all around the yard. There was no way anyone should go hungry with two big tables of food like these!
All my food was inside with my menu chalkboard by the bar. I even had my parchment scroll copy of the Declaration of Independence on display by the plates and napkins! Here is the full menu for 2014:
Make Your Own Snow Cone
Aged Manchego Slices with Smorgabritta Quince Preserves
Assorted Cheeses & Crackers
Stars & Stripes Pastry Brie with Smorgabritta Spiced Loquat Preserves
Festive Fruit Salad – white peaches, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries looked very patriotic
Old Glory Green Salad – greens with grape tomatoes, strawberries marinaded in marionberry balsamic vinaigrette, fresh blueberries, with star croutons, add your own chopped red onions, chopped walnuts, & feta cheese
Sweet Potato Salad – sweet potatoes, peaches, red onion, red pepper, lime juice, olive oil, cinnamon and nutmeg, steamed in the oven this time for more grill space for others
Apricot Cashew Quinoa Salad – dried apricots plumped in white wine, cooked red quinoa, green peas, garlic, onion, olive oil with cashews for crunch
Corndog Sparklers – miniature corndogs with a sparkling surprise in the batter ( = BACON! :-9 )
Sparkling Sugar Stars – non-dairy/vegan sugar cookies
Homemade Old Fashioned Vanilla Custard Ice Cream
Stevia Lemonade – complete with jaunty Uncle Sam top hat 😉
Red Branch Hard Cider – pear, black cherry, and raspberry in growlers
Brittahytta Brewery Hard Cider – Patriotic Peach worked but I ended up without any blueberry juice after all, so no Blueberry Blast this time
Razzle-Dazzle-Tinis – I only saw Sheila have one of my specialty layered red, white and blue cocktails, and we learned that the sugar-free red raspberry floats above the blue raspberry mixer, where the sugar red raspberry from years before would sink! The wonders of relative specific gravities of different ingestible liquids. 😉
While waiting for the fireworks to start, we played Rock Band 3…woohoo! We couldn’t see well enough until the direct sunlight was gone from the projector screen, but that still gave us a whole hour to play! 🙂 It was mostly the little girls pounding away, which was just as well because all the equipment was having the worst technical issues I have ever experienced communicating to the game, so I don’t know what happened since it was last borrowed. At least they still had plenty of fun!
I served my homemade old-fashioned vanilla custard ice cream right on time at 9:15, just before the fireworks were going to start. The fireworks were as impressive as ever, making me smile from ear to ear…and the finale was as bright as the sun! Wow! Jerry was behind me and asked me to turn around so he could get a photo of me with the fireworks…what a fun photo! Thanks Jerry! It’s always fun to hear the wows & oohs at the fireworks, and this year it was Emma shouting, “Take pictures Mom!” every single time…haha!
I baked the same sugar cookie stars as before, since it’s nice to have something not quite as sweet as the homemade ice cream or other desserts people might bring, but I had a brainstorm after the Frozen Sing Along party that I could make some Star-Spangled S’mores! (full recipe instructions coming soon!) After the fireworks were finished, we quickly built a fire in the fire pit and enjoyed roasting marshmallows for our Star-Spangled S’mores. Hopefully the s’mores fun lasted long enough so most people avoided the traffic mess in my neighborhood, as was the plan. 🙂
People were mostly leaving by around 11pm to midnight, until it was Jeff & Audene trading turns on the massage chair and Rob chatting. We always seem to have at least one kid fascinated with Onyx, and this year it was tiny baby Kira. She did very well gently petting him so I even was able to get a photo. I’m so glad Onyx is such a good calm boy! Ebony and Siddy were both hiding under the bed most of the party, but they both came out when most everyone else had left so that not only was Ebony begging for attention, but Rob even got to pet Siddy…that is very rare! I finally was ably to start putting food away around 1am and finally got to bed about 4 with the dishwasher running…whew! Great party!
Since some previous years I was too busy and forgot to take people photos, I made sure this year to at least have my iPhone always at hand for a quick photo, so I got a lot of fun ones…and even got a couple good photos showing my festive stars & stripes pedicure and the red & blue stripes I put in my hair for the occasion! The full photo album is below if you’d like to see all the front yard decorations and my Festive Floral Fireworks. I hope everyone had a fabulous Fourth!