Celebrating the 4th

When July started, I wasn't sure we were actually going to do anything to celebrate the 4th, but then we got a great invitation to a party hosted by some friends and decided to go.  I was in this strange place because I was actually doing homework on the 4th and getting ready for the party.  Not to mention my final exam that was the next day.  Life sure doesn't stop around here for holidays.

I ended up making two desserts for the party, my recent favorite Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies and a new Coffee and White Chocolate Chip Blondies.  The cookies were a hit, as I knew they would be.  Somehow the addition of malted milk makes these like crack cookies, seriously irresistible.  Plus, they're super chewy and only bake for like 7 minutes, bonus!

The blondies were tasty, but in a very elegant, snooty coffeehouse way; so while they were good, I probably won't make them again.  They also had to bake way longer than the recipe said, and by the time the poor blondies got to the party, they weren't looking so hot.  Riding bikes everywhere does have it's disadvantages when we need to transport baked goods.

At the party we had all sorts of grilled foods, including peppers, zucchini, and onions.  One of the guys also made stuffed mushrooms, a french bread pizza, and a couple different chip dips.  Fruit kebabs and fruit salad rounded out dinner nicely, and homemade apple pies with whipped cream were a great addition to the desserts I brought.

We even had temporary tattoos!  One of the girls brought back some decorations and novelties from the US back in June lest you think 'I <3 USA' tattoos are actually available in Saudi Arabia.

I made up some cute buntings to add to the decor.  After lammenting my lack of red paper (most of it went into Christmas decor), I realized that I had red and blue water colors so I painted some designs and cut them out into stars.

I also did regular stars from colored paper, and some star outlines from the scraps.  I really like the star outlines, and I now officially have way too much bunting hanging in our apartment.  Seven strands isn't that much, right?  Can bunting be an addiction I wonder?  It's quite possibly the easiest craft on the planet to add some festive fun.

Close up of the hand painted paper.  I really like how these turned out.

The only downside is that I had to hand trace and cut out each of the stars, but thankfully I used Martha's folding paper method to get some well proportioned patterns.

Here's the requisite super artsy photo. I love this action from the Pioneer Woman.

We also had fireworks!! I never imagined that we'd actually have them, but one of the guys drove to Jeddah and got packs of sparklers, roman candles, and flying spinners.  We also put on some great patriotic music while we were setting off the fireworks and it was a great time.  After we started setting off the roman candles, we had a couple of middle school age girls show up, and since they brought cupcakes with them, they stayed and played with the sparklers too.

All in all, it was a great night, and much different than I thought the 4th of July would be in Saudi Arabia.

On a more serious note, being in Saudi Arabia has made me appreciate how lucky we were to be born in America.  Not that I didn't appreciate the freedoms that we have before, but living without some of them for a year has made it increasingly clear just how important they are to me.