Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Celebrating Independence Day: July 3rd-4th

This year our annual 4th of July party was held on the 3rd. It was put to a vote and most people wanted to have a party in which they could stay up late and not have to worry about going to work the next day. It didn't really matter to me either way, my day is the same whether it's a Tuesday or a Saturday, but the feeling was understandable.

The party, hosted at the home of our good friends parents, has the same set up each year. Everyone brings a dish, or drink to share. Last year I made patriotic cake pops (this was after everyone loved the cake pops I made for Sophie's 1st birthday) and liked baking desserts so much, I decided to bring dessert again this year. However, my cake pop making hasn't been perfected and I wanted to make this easy and simple. After perusing Pinterest, my new internet time suck for ideas, I once again decided upon a recipe from Bakerella. Mini cupcake hot fudge sundaes. I wasn't sure how they would turn out, but they ended up being so cute. Here is a look at me putting these cuties together.
It took me all morning but only because I made like 100 of them. I varied my cupcakes a little bit. I used red velvet cake, cream cheese icing, chocolate candy melts and jellybeans on top. The straws also didn't look that good so I left them off. Super simple, super easy. Here is the recipe and a list of supplies I used.

1 box red velvet Cake
2 cans of cream cheese icing
1 bag of red jelly belly cherry flavored jellybeans
1 bag of chocolate candy melts
Patriotic sprinkles
Mini cupcake tin
Mini cupcake liners
Candy Maker mini squeeze bottle

Mix cake mix per box (be careful, the red mix does stain your fingers, mouth, etc. but comes off with a few washes). Place cupcake liners in mini cupcake tin, filling only halfway and bake for about 30 minutes. Let cool.

In the meantime, place chocolate wafers into your mini squeeze bottle, place in the microwave and cook on 50% power for 30 minutes. You will need to do this a few times, squeezing the bottle for 15 seconds in between each interval until completely melted.

Once the cupcakes are cool to the touch, squeeze the chocolate onto the cupcake and spread into a thin layer. Let chocolate harden before putting on icing. For the icing I used my absolute favorite, cream cheese icing. I just spooned the icing into the Pampered Chef decorator bottle with the rosette tip and squeezed the icing onto the cupcake like I would whip cream on a sundae. While the frosting is still wet sprinkle with patriotic sprinkles, I used the dots.

To top the sundae cupcakes I used cherry flavored jelly beans. Voila. They are ready to eat.
And don't they look tasty? They were. My cupcakes were the talk of the party. You could see adults walking around with 5 or more in their hand at a time. I had a lot of fun baking and putting these together, so it was satisfying to see everyone enjoying a few, or 6 or 10.

Anyway, the party started off as usual, the kids playing in the inflatable pools or running around, while the grown ups drink and catch up on what has been happening in our lives. Then comes the food; burgers, hot dogs and bratwurst accompanied by potato salad, chips, fruit and beans along with an assortment of other foods. Then back to more drinking and kids running around. The big fun was the power wheels jeep. Two kids would sit in and drive while the rest would run behind or beside it. That was until one of the boys got run over. It was bound to happen, at least with our group of friends in the mix. You what they say, it's not a party until someone gets run over. The boy was fine and the kids went back to playing and the adults back to drinking and chatting while sampling the many desserts. Homemade ice cream and chocolate covered cherries were a few of the other desserts floating around. Somehow I missed out on the s'mores once it got dark. I had a feeling with all the sweets our kids were ingesting there one of two things would happen, they'd get sick or be so hyper they wouldn't want to leave. It ended up being the later.

Speaking of getting dark. We usually have a friend who hops the border and buys a few of the illegal fireworks ahead of time and we set those off in our own private, but small, fireworks display in the cul-de-sac. Sitting in lawn chairs or on our butts on the sidewalk we would all sit and enjoy the show. However, since we held the party on the third this year, it would have been hard to mask our illegal show amongst the many professional shows happening locally. So, no big fireworks this time.

Mason was devastated to learn that we were not doing fireworks, even though he has freaked out each previous year. However, bringing Mason to his car to show him the loot, our friend Trevor saved the day with a whole bunch of the small legal ones. Unfortunately this was about the time the first storm rolled it and it began to rain. Hard. I then had to hear, "Mom can we do fireworks now?" "Mom, where is Mr. Trevor?" "Mom." "Mom." "MOM!" For the next 30 minutes or so this drove me crazy as I started to sound like a broken record, "when the rain stops, Mason. I will let you know." "I don't know, maybe he's outside under the carport with the other adults. Now go play with your friends and leave me alone."
Eventually the rain stopped and the boys could have their fun. Mason was a completely different boy, super excited to help set off the fireworks. He stood up there the whole time with Mr. Trevor helping set up the tanks and barrels and other fireworks, backing away as they were lit and helping to clean up once it was all done. It was drilled into the kids the rules of fireworks. The first rule of fireworks, Be Safe. The second rule of fireworks, Clean Up. We had them repeat these over and over, especially once the sparklers came out.
We never had sparklers growing up, it was something I missed out on as a child, except that one time my BFF Shelly's family had some and we lit one or two. It felt so dangerous and sneaky at the time, especially since my parents didn't know. Shh, don't tell them. Anyway, we never really tried to get the kids sparklers because they always shy away from fire and didn't show an interest in participating in that part.

Mason was excited to play with it at first but once the flame started to get closer to his hand he got apprehensive and would drop it on the ground.

Sophie didn't want to be left out.
She patiently waited and watched as daddy lit the sparkler and guided her in holding it. She got a little crazy with it when attempting to go solo, almost poking daddy in the eye, so that was the end of the sparkler fun for her. Luckily it was also the last of the bunch so her tantrum was stopped short.

Around this time, the sun had finally gone to bed allowing the bigger stuff to be set off. Mason, of course stayed by Trevor's side helping with the show as the rest of us sat and watched with awe, wonder and laughter.
I would have thought Sophie would be freaked, but she enjoyed it. For the few moments she actually did sit and watch. Mostly though, she could have cared less that loud noises and flashing lights were being set off near by as she played with her glow stick necklace, drank some water and exuded cuteness by clapping, and swapping laps with daddy, mommy and her friend Theresa. Who in turn, was more than happy to pose for a super sweet, super cute photo with Sophie in matching Uncle Sam hats.
It was a great night with friends, and even though we didn't have the big ones shot into the air it was an amazingly great show and a lot of fun for all.

I wanted to note that our plan for the 4th was to watch the local professional fireworks show that goes on at the Sports Pavilion near our house, from our yard. However, that plan did not work out. We stood outside in the middle of the cul-de-sac with our neighbors waiting for the show to begin as we got a glimpse of a few fireworks here and there from different directions. Nothing like we thought it would have been for a professional show. We speculated on whether they were rogue shows by neighboring community streets or left overs from far off shows in neighboring towns. The highlight of the night was the bunny rabbit that kept making rounds from yard to yard awfully close to where we were standing. By 10pm we gave up, figuring it was a low flying show and we were too close to the area to see them above the houses. Bummed and disappointed we bid everyone a good night. As it turns out, we found out that a few days later from another neighbor that the show was in a different location than we thought and had actually started around 9:10pm un-like the 9:30pm time that was advertised in all the newspapers and online newsletters. So by the time we had congregated outside shortly after 9:30pm the show was already over. What a bust.

At least we had the fun show the previous day. Lets face it, nothing compares to good food, lots of laughs with friends, and staying up way past bedtime. And who knows, maybe next year we will get our simple, private firework show again. Or at least better inform ourselves of when and where the local show is being held so not to miss out for a second year in a row.
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