Monday, April 28, 2014

Birthday Soirées

This past Saturday and Sunday was undoubtedly the most eventful weekend, celebrating two very special birthdays.

On Saturday...
We had brunch at my house to celebrate my friend Younson's birthday.  His actual birthday was beginning of this month, but due to the tax season (Younson is an accountant / co-owner at Tax Breakers) and coordinating with people's availability, we settled for April 26th, which was a good thing because it allowed me ample time to plan and order everything.  Remember the Easter egg invitations from my previous post?  They were for this birthday party!

I arranged a snack table with Biscoff cookies, a great tea-time treat and are said to be Europe's favorite cookie.  Thank you to Jackson for helping me stack these!  There were also an assortment of jellybeans and chocolate-covered almonds that I put into glass teapots.  Last but not least, I reserved a bottle of Belvoir's Elderflower Coridal (imported from UK) for this occasion.  As always, I like to put either raspberries of sliced strawberries with my sparkling juice; it adds a hint of flavor and visual interest.

Welcoming table: game, snacks, and the huge birthday card we all signed

In addition to an egg hunt (following the brunch), I put together a guessing game.  I ordered some M&Ms customized with my favorite photo of Younson (freely obtained from his Facebook).  Each guest had a card with their name to write down their guess as to how many M&Ms with Younson's face were in this glass container.  Other M&Ms in the mix had messages and a "Happy Birthday" image:

Customized M&Ms from mymms.com

Guessing game display
Everyone hovering to guess how many Younson M&Ms there were:
How many do you estimate to be in there?
Answer revealed below, after brunch...
After all guesses were placed, it was time to eat!
An opulent brunch!

Ready to indulge!

Brunch Menu
  1. Waldorf salad
  2. Apple and oat scones
  3. Clover organic scrambled eggs
  4. Cinnamon brioche French toast
  5. Hello Kitty Belgian waffles (that's the only waffle-maker I have!)
  6. Blueberry lavender compote
  7. Strawberry & Fortnum's Champagne Preserves (from my last trip to London)
  8. Applewood bacon
  9. Avocado and cucumber dill sandwiches
  10. Maple honey ham (from Whole Foods Market) and cheese sandwiches
  11. Sparkling grapefruit rosé mimosas (non-alcoholic of course)
  12. Taylors of Harrogate China Rose Petal Leaf Tea served with Chambre de Sucre round sugars and organic non-fat Clover milk, of course!

Waldorf salad, my favorite!

Freshly baked apple oat scones

Clover organic scrambled eggs and fresh berries

Cinnamon brioche French toast
Thank you to Lydia for helping me with the waffles!
Hello Kitty Belgian waffles and fresh bananas

Blueberry lavender compote

Avocado and cucumber dill sandwiches

Maple honey ham and cheese sandwiches

It would not be my event without some proper tea!  Out of my tea selection, Younson had the honor of choosing our tea of the day.  He chose Taylors of Harrogate China Rose Petal Leaf Tea, my favorite rose black tea!  I first tried this tea when a friend gave it to me as a gift during my Easter picnic barbecue last year.  Unfortunately, I have no clue as to where to find it in SF!  I have scouted Bi-Rite, Draeger's, Falletti Foods, Lunari's, Whole Foods Market, and any fine foods market I come across in the city, but to no avail.  After my first tin, I asked where I could find this tea caddy, but my friend refused to reveal his secret supplier.  Instead, he just got me my second tin!

A brunch would not be complete without mimosas!  However, anyone who knows me knows that I do not drink alcohol - ever.  Since grapefruit is my favorite morning juice, I decided to make my own non-alcoholic mimosa concoction with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and sparkling rosé.  Thank you to Derrick for helping me juice the grapefruits!

Custom-made teapot cozy from CozyTeaTreasures
and F&M silver-plated monogram tea strainer
(a gift from my brother on our last trip to London!)
My preferred sugar for hosting afternoon tea is always Chambre de Sucre's sugar rounds!
These too-pretty-to-eat sugars were handmade in Japan

I never use plain napkins for my events.  I usually use decoratively printed paper napkins, but in lieu of the Easter theme, I made bunny napkins!  I also wanted to incorporate Younson's birthday into the design, so I specially ordered silver satin ribbons with "Happy Birthday, Younson!" messages.  With a party of seven, I only had six Wedgewood's vintage Charnwood teacup and saucers - treasures I found at The Garden Home last year (finally got to use these!).  So for my place setting, I used my prized porcelain teacup and saucer from The Queen's coronation (EiiR June 2, 1953) - a very generous and thoughtful gift from Derrick two Decembers ago!

Placecards I made to match the invitations and guessing game cards
Here are all the guesses, including one very educated guess:
There were 70 Younson M&Ms, and the closest estimate was 65.
Congratulations to Bert, the winner!
Winner of the egg hunt was not determined by the number of eggs found, but rather whoever found the egg containing a chocolate Flopsy Bunny (Peter Rabbit's sister).  Derrick found most of the eggs, which I accredit to his snake eyes, height advantage, and speedy legs, but lucky Bert was the one to find the pink Easter egg where Flopsy was enclosed!  I hid it right underneath the prize basket!

Egg hunt prize basket and bag includes konjac sponges (from my previous post)

After the egg hunt and guessing game, Younson cut his birthday fruit tart (I chose a tart instead because I thought a cake would be too heavy):

The jubilant birthday boy!

Maki sniffing out the prize to see if anything was for him!
Needless to say, he does not need a prize - he wins my heart every day!

On Sunday...
My godmom's closest family and friends gathered at her residence for a dinner buffet.  With 21 guests, it was a scaled-down version of her family's annual Thanksgiving dinner.  Of course, I gladly helped with decorations and table setting because she and I have always believed presentation is everything!

She strictly said no gifts, but I had to make her my signature orchid arrangement.  I used two orchid plants varying in height, plus one jasmine as the base plant.  Furthermore, I spiked six glittering sprays around the plant and covered the remaining base with Spanish moss.  I love a vintage-looking planter for these arrangements:

Her favorite flower: phalaenopsis "moth" orchid
Following the orchid theme,
I made placecards with trivia questions on the back each:
Front and back of the placecards

Table no. 1 setting

Table no. 2 setting

Closeup of each table setting

Flowers I freshly picked from the garden and arranged

More roses, camellia, and other garden posies I picked from the garden

The head chef, my lovely Mum, cooking up majority of the dishes

Waldorf salad with strawberries, apricots, and candied walnuts

Baked crostini with homemade tomato salsa

Garlic butterfly shrimp

Roasted asparagus

More of my godmom's favorite indoor plant; this one is my favorite color!

Birthday cake from her favorite bakery: Satura Cakes
Wishing you the very best...
Today and Always!

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