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Garden of Friendship Birthday Dinner

Spring is in the air, birds are chirping louder, I hear neighbors enjoying their swimming pools, I can smell the tender smoking meat on barbecues, and am enjoying the warmer weather. Southern California is so beautiful year round, but especially in the Spring. Flowers of all types are exploding with life, vigor, and colors of every hue. I can think of nothing I would enjoy more than having a few treasured friends over for a nice meal. Garden of Friendship was a perfect name for this even as this party was held for a dear friend's birthday with a full bouquet of friends.  It was a surprise too!

Napkins were folded and twisted to form lily pads and placed within the drinking glasses. Name tags were printed on leafs and mounted on ladybug name tag holders.

We were all pleasantly surprised by the mix of ingredients and flavors in
a Watermelon and Arugula Salad :-)

A delicious shrimp cocktail with avocado, Jalapeno peppers, mango, lemon juice, tomatoes and olives launched the feasting.
The link to this shrimp cocktail, I believe, will be better than what I served.

Chilled cantaloupe soup with orange juice and basil provided a refreshing surprise.
Make this about an hour before your meal.  
If you let it set overnight, the orange juice and basil cannot be detected!

Garden creature embellishments added a whimsical and well-commented on aspect
to the appetizers.
Do you notice the complementary frog fabric beneath the outrageously delicious Asparagus in Phyllo dough laced with Parmesan cheese and fresh pepper. The dipping sauce was to die for!
I will definitely be making these again!

A table still in progress.

Although they were intended as party favors, my guests graciously insisted I keep the felt watering pails, frog favor holders, and potted plants so that someone else could be blessed with the beauty of the event. I hoped they would be wowed and I wanted them all to feel special, and they were, but the friends I have are the kind that want others to share in a good time too. Thanks dear friends! You know who you are!

I used Fiesta Ware dishes in orange, red, yellow and green. The orange and white polka-dotted fabric square set atop the bright yellow tablecloth highlights the orange flowers on the watering cans. The red flatware highlights the flowers on the plate and the lady bug name tag holders and lady bugs on the watering cans. I filled the glasses with flavored water with added fruit slices to bring in color.

Scanning a preponderance of magazines, the ideas in my mind, cookbooks, and Pinterest saves, I came up with many delightful surprises for my guests. As I viewed my set table, I wondered "What can I fill those cheerful frogs and felt watering pails with that will activate the oohs, ahhs, and wows" and make my guests feel extra special? I wanted to find or create something that I couldn't wait for my friends to discover as they took their seats to share in sweet friendship, delicious offerings, and little surprises.

Cute business sized cards were produced with inspirational thoughts to brighten their days, printed in green print, enclosed within a business card sized envelope, tied with striped string and embellished with a sequined-flower, and set within the felt frog holders. I roasted walnuts and glazed them with brown sugar, orange juice and cinnamon. They were placed within a cellophane bag and tied with an orange and white gingham bow, allowing the ribbon to be longer to stretch out of the watering can for a pleasant visual effect. Ooooooh, they were sooooo good!

Because everyone wanted to bring a dish, this dinner was the success it was.  Marinated filet Mignon, spinach and olive orzo, and corn on the cob were served for the main dinner.  All made by master chefs!  (At least they were in my mind,)  A home-made peach cobbler (with peaches from my guests grandmother's peach tree) along with vanilla ice cream brought the dining to a very satisfying conclusion.  My friends are DELIGHTFUL!!  

Hope you can duplicate this meal in the future.  You will not be disappointed. 

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