Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Joe's Outdoor Birthday Dinner

Rain threatened to spoil our plans for an outdoor dinner to celebrate Joe's birthday Monday, but late afternoon the weather cleared and we were able to quickly set up before he arrived home from work.

The children were so helpful in pulling everything together. The boys moved furniture and hung paper lanterns, and the girls cleaned and set the table. Above, Mary Ashley puts a finishing touch on our tablescape.

When the weather and leaves start to turn to fall, I want to eat outside as much as possible. I think our rainy Monday actually made our little party even more pleasant. Although the sky remained cloudy, we did not have a drop of rain fall until we had carried everything back inside at the end of the evening.

I took cues from the fall color in our yard to plan our tablescape.

A Ralph Lauren coverlet purchased on clearance at TJ Maxx made a great tablecloth. With its preppy patchwork of plaids, I anticipate using this a lot for picnicking. A ruffled cake, bouquet of flowers and trio of candles decorated the center of the table. And little projects from the children finished off the table.

When 9-year-old Christian saw these paper lanterns, he said, "Uh, are you sure Dad wants pink lanterns to celebrate his 39th birthday?" I'm pretty sure he did.

And I'm also fairly certain he would have agreed with me that these soft pink roses were the prettiest in the  flower shop.

Everything came together for a sweet tablescape that was family-approved. In my next post I will share details of our menu.

The children really pour their hearts into letting us know how much they love us. Above, Emma's birthday card sits at Joe's place.

Mary Ashley wrote her birthday greeting on our chalkboard sign: "happy birthday daddy we love you so much have a good time because you are sweet and nice." The girls held this sign as we waited for Joe's car to round the corner. He was surprised to find us outside waiting when he arrived. We enjoyed sitting outside for dinner, and our special gift had us lingering outside for hours. Here is a little clue to our birthday surprise ... .

Looks like a platter piled high with graham crackers, Hershey bars and marshmallows just waiting to be turned into s'mores! Forgive this blurry picture, but here is Carson stoking the fire in Joe's new fire bowl.

Several of our friends have fire pits and enjoy sharing family time gathered around the flame. Carson and I talked about building one from paving stones, but ultimately decided the ease and portability of a purchased fire bowl would work best for our family. So we slipped out after Joe left for work Monday and purchased this Better Homes and Gardens fire bowl. I debated whether to get this one or a smaller, less expensive version, but friends advised me that we would appreciate having the larger one. The kids and I assembled the fire bowl Monday afternoon, and we had the home fires burning when Joe arrived. In the more than 10 years we have lived in our home, I have never started a fire in the fireplace, so he was really surprised that we assembled a fire bowl and started a fire without him.

There was such warmth around the fire bowl, and not just because there were flames inside.

There is something so mesmerizing about watching fire. After a busy day getting ready for our celebration, my favorite moments were spent sitting quietly around the fire pit as the flames danced.

I hope our family will always remember these moments together.

And I hope our evening outdoors full of special surprises showed Joe how much we love him.

"To poke a wood fire is more solid enjoyment than almost anything else in the world." ~ Charles Dudley Warner

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