Monday, August 3, 2015

A Blue Plate Special Birthday Celebration

Today is Gerald's birthday, but it's also the night the kids test for their next level in Taekwondo. Yesterday we all gathered at my parents' home for a late lunch celebrating his birthday, and I didn't think two big meals in one day were necessary. So, when we unexpectedly found ourselves home on Saturday night (our first free Saturday in over two months), I decided to take advantage of the moment and have Gerald's family birthday dinner. I invited my parents to join us. His parents were not here, but when they come later this month, we'll celebrate all over again!

Here's me and the birthday boy during Thanksgiving a couple of years ago.

When Gerald requested venison cubed steak with gravy for his birthday meal a couple of weeks ago, I have to admit, I didn't get excited. Mainly because it's not a really glamorous meal. It doesn't scream party and creative tablescapes didn't leap to mind. But I chewed on it (pun intended!) for a couple of days. I remembered how much he had enjoyed the new potatoes my mother made for Sunday dinner a few weeks ago. That led to the thought that green beans and potatoes are one of his absolute favorites. It was rounding out to be a classic, home-style meal. Wanting to add something the kids would like, I decided to add fried squash to the menu. We don't usually have bread with our meal, but I thought since it was his birthday, I would do my mother's spoon rolls, a standard from my childhood. Alabama is known for the peaches grown not far from us in Chilton County, so I planned dessert around them. Instead of a plain cobbler, I decided fresh biscuits would make great bases for peach shortcakes. 

There was my menu. A Southern meat-and-three. It sounded like a blue plate special. Voila! I had my tablescape.

A Blue Plate Special Birthday Celebration

As I began my planning, I could imagine an old diner with a red-checked oilcloth and heavy white dishes with a blue ring around the edges. I started looking through my cabinets to see what I had on hand.

The first thing I did was to make a red-and-white-checked table topper and coordinating blue-checked napkins. I found the fabric at Walmart and spent about $10 total for two yards of each. I cut the napkin fabric into 14 inch squares and folded and ironed under an 1/8" and then another 1/8" and sewed the seam with navy thread. The tablecloth got the same treatment but was hemmed with white thread. These both worked nicely over my standard white tablecloth.

I pulled out a set of dishes that I had years before we even married. They are inexpensive, but crisp and clean looking. They are made by Gibson, but don't even have a pattern name. The light yellow band added a little more color and dimension to my table setting. I hadn't used them in over ten years, so a quick run through the dishwasher had them spiffy in no time. As I put them back up, I plan to wrap them in plastic wrap to keep them dust free for future use.

My everyday flatware set (Austen by Yamasaki) and Mason jars finished out the place settings for a fun, retro-restaurant style theme. I have a couple of boxes of canning jars in the garage that I use from year to year. They make great vases and glasses as well as holding jellies and jams.

For my centerpiece, I pulled out two little milk jar vases I bought a while back at Dollar Tree and a blue Mason jar someone had given me. My azaleas had buds, but no blooms. I cut some of the long azalea shoots that have popped up during the heavy rain we had back on July 4th. (We got 5" in about 24 hours, and lots of my plants and shrubs bolted with the rainfall.) Then wanting to add a little color to break up the dark green foliage of the azaleas, I wandered around my yard looking for anything that might work. My crepe myrtles are pink, so that wouldn't do. As I was walking back in the front door, I saw my sad little drift roses. There were maybe a dozen blooms left, and I think I cut the prettiest three. Small as they are, the white just adds a little brightness. The blue jar helps to break up the red tablecloth and bunched together, the little arrangement cost me nothing!

Following through with the diner theme, I pulled out some simple glass serving pieces for the cream and coffee stirrers. I picked up the sugar dispenser at Walmart for $1.

A glass butter dish and set of salt and pepper shakers next to a tall vase holding colorful drinking straws balances out the table. The clear glass is simple, but adds a little sparkle to the table.

A squeeze bottle holds ketchup and also cost $1 at Walmart. Finally, the red baskets were perfect for holding the rolls. A set of four was about $4, also at Walmart. These will come in handy next time we grill burgers and eat on the deck. Altogether, I spent about $15 and everything can be reused!

So there you have it! The tablescape for Gerald's "Blue Plate Special Birthday Celebration". Jewell especially loved it and said it reminded her of a 50's diner. She thought since Gerald was turning 54, that her theme was even better than mine. Whatever you call it, I think it turned out pretty. It didn't take long to pull it all together and it made for a special evening.

Check back in later this week as I share the recipes with you. Y'all come back, now!


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