Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Sunflower-Kissed Birthday

"A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun. Enjoy the trip." ~ Author Unknown

My husband, Joe, enjoyed a Texas-sized 40th birthday yesterday. He is in San Antonio coaching a Faulkner moot court team this week, but we squeezed in a little family-sized birthday celebration before he left.

I would have loved to whisk Joe off to an exotic destination for this momentous birthday, but the calendar (and budget) could not accommodate a big trip. So I tried to create a surprise getaway at home.

Blue and white transferware and sunny yellow linens set a vibrant table for our Italian feast. Joe requested spaghetti for his birthday dinner.

I was delighted to find sunflowers at my local grocery store. This was my first time to work with sunflowers. These light-loving blooms are top-heavy, so florists recommend arranging sunflowers in narrow-mouthed containers and keeping bouquets in the window.

Knowing we were not going to sit down to dinner until after a number of after-school and evening activities, I started setting our kitchen table for a late-night dinner. But this sunny tablescape just seemed to belong outside. And our mild Alabama weather has been delightful this week. So outside everything went!

With help from Carson and Christian, I moved our patio table and chairs to a little-used section of our pool area. With potted plants pulled close to the table, this corner of the patio felt like a little outdoor room.

Mums added fall color to our cheery space.

I told Joe we were escaping to the Italian countryside for dinner at a Tuscan restaurant. Six-year-old Emma wasn't so sure about this, even when she heard traditional Italian music playing from the Pandora station I created for the evening. (Of course, when we ate dinner with Joe's parents last night and his mom said we were celebrating his birthday with Joe in absentia, Emma wrinkled her face in confusion. She thought he was in Texas.) Yes, Little One, it is difficult to keep up with Daddy now that he is 40.

I wanted to display Joe's sunflower cake on a blue and white cake plate, but this blue and white candlestick (on clearance at Hobby Lobby) worked to elevate a ruffled platter for the occasion. I decorated this three-layer yellow cake with buttercream icing. First I covered the sides with swirls of icing with a star tip. Then I used a toothpick to draw sunflower centers around the top of the cake. I filled in the circles with mini chocolate chips, then piped yellow-orange leaves around the circles to create the sunflower petals. Joe said the cake reminded him of a Van Gogh painting. The children enjoyed counting out 40 candles to light the cake.

By the time we sat down to dinner Tuesday night, it was after 8:30. Candles lit the table, and the weather was crisp and cool. The girls were already in their pajamas, and the boys still had homework to complete. We were weary from a busy day that began before 6 a.m. and was packed with activities that continued past 8 p.m. 

But what a gift it was to escape to the country -- even for a few blessed moments  -- to celebrate the birthday of the man we love most.

(Linking this post with StoneGable's Tutorials, Tips and Tidbits.)

Believing hear, what you deserve to hear:
Your birthday as my own to me is dear...
But yours gives most; for mine did only lend
Me to the world; yours gave to me a friend.
~ Martial

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