Fireworks & Fun 2008!
Thursday night was the party prep chaos mess it always is, and I would have gotten more sleep except that I lost track of time and it was 1am before I started the custard base for the ice cream, and it required 2 hours to chill before the 30 minutes in the machine...oops! That meant 4:30am bedtime...well, anytime I can get to sleep before 5am the night before means I'm doing quite well actually! ;) I was up putting out my flags & last-minute pruning by 10am, then swept the patio & got out the chairs, doing all the grungy stuff before food prep so I could take a shower too clean up & cool down. I wrote in chalk behind my Honda in the driveway in case we needed to use it as a shuttle, but this year no one needed it either. I guess as long as we're prepared we don't need to use it? ;) The pastry brie was cooling by 1:30pm, then I got myself ready and started the trifle when Nathania dropped Kaelyn by to help...hooray! That really saved the day! By Kaeyln helping with finishing the fruit salad, assembling the green salad, setting out the cookies & crackers, and filling the fountain with water, I was able to get the other things done like the trifle, my menu signs, the red, white & blue star ice cubes, the flower arrangements, the arrangements in my large stone urns flanking the shed & final decorating. Cyd & George arrived with ice at 3:30 and filled the drink bins with ice & drinks while Kaeyln & I finished everything else. Sheila arrived about 4:15 with her delicious deviled eggs while I was emptying the dishwasher so I'd have room to clean. When Robin & Charles arrived I told them I was so happy to be doing dishes already since that meant all the food was already done! ;)
People trickled in until 6 or 7pm I guess since we didn't start the grill for quite awhile since we wanted more people there, and there was plenty of other food to graze on. Everyone brought really tasty treats. I made sure to claim a couple of Sheila's deviled eggs before they disappeared, and Robert & Maureen's S'mores Cupcakes were clever & delicious! I had a couple leftovers tonight! Even starting the grill that late we needed a second round of coals started after everything else was cooked before my sweet potato salad could go on. Jen was waiting for that salad! She kept nagging me because she really likes it and she can eat it now after her full year of strict dieting. Ebony sat in the office window watching the people in the backyard while Onyx was roaming the party, so I was able to grab him for a photo but he wasn't very pleased about it! He's my cuddly boy who always wants a hug, but not with that much going on I guess? I kept saying it was baby day, since not only was 6-month-old Ellie there with Nathania & Kevin, but brand-new little boy Jax with Dave & Wendy, and almost-year-old Benjamin with Louie, and even Christopher & Liza had Lola in the morning of the 4th, so the Facebook photo was showing on the kitchen computer so others could see. Christopher had posted from his iPhone at the hospital. Wonders of technology eh? ;)
Since the food was mostly ready, I didn't have anyone hovering around me in the kitchen after I cleaned up the dishes, so everyone was outside where the breeze was nice. Instead of sitting on the patio in the shade, they moved their own chairs & mine out to the fence in the sliver of shade. I took a photo since that's always so funny to me to see everyone crammed in one tiny part of the lawn. Of course the seating area expanded as the shade grew later in the day, then when dusk was descending it was getting chilly enough we rearranged & put the firepit in the middle of everyone. (Since this is only the second time we've been burning real wood now instead of firelogs, my grass underneath suffers, so I'll need to figure out a better solution to save myself from mini crop circles!) When it got dark, I even put on my thin hoodie jacket over my tank top, and for the fireworks I had a blanket over my legs since I was wearing shorts. The fireworks were a huge finale this year, like no color just blazing light all over the sky...wow! The finale was still going so I tried taking a photo of how brightly the sky was lighting up the audience! Cyd said it was like "well we're over our time so just shoot everything left all at once!" haha... We could also barely hear the music from the loudspeakers in the park so that was cool. I've never heard of a radio simulcast for these otherwise I'd have it on since I had the patio speaker & the backyard speaker on with 80s music from XM radio on my DirecTV feed. Much hilarity ensued throughout the evening, including an early surprise birthday present from a bunch of friends that will be revealed later, and Cat vs. Crayfish, which resulted in many arms waving like the poor crayfish defending itself from the curious kitty from the online video...probably one of those "had to be there" moments!
Brittahytta Brewery Hard Apple Cider on tap in fancy new half-gallon growler bottles
Razzle-Dazzle-Tinis at the bar
Sugar-Free Lemonade in the jar
Mojitos, with house-infused pineapple rum if it wasn't already gone!
Patriotic Pastry Brie with Smorgabritta Spiced Loquat Preserves
Aged Manchego Slices with Smorgabritta Quince Preserves
Grilled Sweet Potato Salad
sweet potatoes, peaches, red onion, red pepper, lime juice, olive oil, cinammon and nutmeg, steamed on the grill
Apricot Cashew Rice Salad
dried apricots plumped in white wine, wild rice, green peas, garlic, onion, olive oil with cashews for crunch
Old Glory Green Salad
greens with grape tomatoes, strawberries marinaded in raspberry balsamic vinaigrette, dried blueberries, with star croutons
add your own chopped red onions, chopped walnuts, and feta cheese if you like
Festive Fruit Salad
fresh pineapple, fresh loquats, apples, blackberries, raspberries & strawberries served in a fresh pineapple boat
Loquat Stars & Stripes Trifle
loquat bar stars, vanilla pudding, blueberries and raspberries with whipped cream
Sparkling Sugar Stars
(star sugar cookies on platter)
Homemade Old Fashioned Vanilla Custard Ice Cream
When the fireworks were over, my knees & ankles didn't want me to stand anymore so I pulled up a chair to chat. After the others had left, Cyd, Robin, Charles & I were still talking so George starting cleaning up & bringing things in from the yard, then everyone brought all the food in from the patio so I could put stuff away, but I told them I needed to sit down a bit before I could tackle them! It was probably around midnight when they left, then after my break I put away the food to save, soaked everything that could be soaked, and washed the serving platters and things that couldn't soak anywhere, since my legs kept saying JUST SIT DOWN! ;) It was a fabulous time with fun friends & great food, but my legs were still sore after a full night's sleep!
The full photo album is here if you'd like to see. I hope everyone had a fabulous Fourth!