Celebrating Al-Fresco

Celebrating Al-Fresco

Let me preface this by saying that had been planning my birthday dinner all summer long. When I say all summer, I mean all summer. I think I started planning in June when we signed our lease for the apartment because I was inspired by the green backyard and picnic table. A few months later, and 73 pins on this board  it was finally time for all my ideas to be actualized!

I didn’t get a chance to complete all of the projects I wanted for this party because I got way too ambitious, but I still think that everything looked lovely. The great thing was that I didn’t have to go out of my way to buy anything crazy to create the simple tablescape, and I found most of the things I needed around my home and at the thrift store.

The Tablescape

For the table, I kept it really simple. We used the worn down picnic table in the backyard for the surface, and then I added found objects from all over my house to give it the pretty details!

  • Tablecloth: I chose a light grey linen “tablecloth” instead of white to soften the look and give it a more bohemian feel instead of a formal dining setting. Instead of buying a tablecloth I spent $1.99 at Value Village on an old sheet and used it to cover the table!
  • Candles: One simply cannot have an al fresco dinner without soft mood lighting. I brought out 4 of my brass candlesticks that I found for a couple dollars each at thrift stores and used simple white IKEA tapers. The look is traditional and classy, and I love how the flicker of the candlelight brings out the gold tones.
  • Flowers: On my birthday I woke up to three beautiful bouquets of yellow flowers from Adam! To add a bit of contrast I picked up some bright pink flowers at the grocery store and made little arrangements in mason jars. I love how the yellow and pink flowers looked together.
  • Place cards: I wasn’t going to have these initially, but I found a full set of these Kate Spade place cards at my Value Village for $2.99 and couldn’t help myself! The gold touch perfectly matched the overall look and made the table feel personal. Plus, the little messages were too cute, “save room for dessert!”
  • Glassware: I spent my whole summer searching for a set of light pink stemmed glasses for this party, and couldn’t find any for a reasonable price. Instead, I just put out some of our nice wine glasses and made pink lemonade for everyone to enjoy! That way, I still got the pink colour, and we felt fancy using nice glasses.
The Menu

I spent so much time on Pinterest searching for easy but tasty end-of-summer appropriate recipes and came up with a really yummy menu that even my novice cooking skills could handle. We also had a fresh baguette and humus out for our guests to munch on as soon as they got to our house.

  • Caprese salad: this is so simple! I cut up fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella and lined them up ratatouille style in a glass pan. Next, a quick sprinkle of salt and pepper and topped with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. It was so fresh and simple; definitely a favourite of the night.
  • Quinoa salad: I’m actually allergic to quinoa, but loved the idea of having a big colourful salad for people to munch on. I basically added every vegetable in my fridge (peppers, corn, peas, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, red onions) and topped it off with a light lemon dressing made from scratch.
  • Veggie kebabs: For the kebabs, we bought tons of peppers, onions, mushrooms, and zucchini and layered it all together before chucking it on the BBQ to grill! To make it easier, we bought grill pans so that if the veggies fell off they wouldn’t make a mess in the BBQ. Tip: soak your skewers before loading them up so they don’t crumble and burn!
  • Chicken drumsticks: this was probably the easiest of all. We had about 14 drumsticks that we placed in a glass casserole dish and covered in coconut oil and tons of sweet & spicy dry rub. Follow cooking directions and enjoy!
The Cake

I can barely scroll through my Pinterest newsfeed without drooling over the beautifully simple naked cakes. I decided to try my hand at making a three-tier cake, and while my pictures didn’t turn out well
(I forgot to take pictures when we had daylight! #bloggerfail), the cake was delicious! I added the same yellow and pink flowers to tie the whole colour scheme together, and we couldn’t wait to dig in.

The company

I initially invited a large group of friends to come over for dinner, but with busy schedules, not many could come. Instead, I had two of my very best friends over for a lovely intimate dinner. You can tell by the looks on our faces that we were so relaxed and happy! It was truly the perfect evening.

It was so cozy to sit around the candle lit table on this warm summer night. We stayed out long after dinner was finished before heading inside to enjoy a cup of tea and a piece of cake.

I had such a great time putting this evening together. It meant so much for the people I loved to make such an effort to come out and celebrate with me! A HUGE thanks to Adam for all his help. He captured most of the photos of the night and did a wonderful job.

How do you celebrate your birthday?



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