Sooo as a follow up to this post, everything ended up going really well! Granted, temporarily living in a foreign country makes it more difficult to find the things you want (why can’t I find nearby Target/Michael’s equivalents?!), but I made do with what I could scrounge up. And judging by Hunter’s reactions as he came home to my work, I did well.
First, balloons! I originally intended to hang them all on my homemade decorative garlands and along the top of our curtain rod, but they looked so fun taking up the floor of the apartment after I blew them up, that I decided to just leave a bunch there. Entertainment for days, lemme tell you. Then I strung four garlands (complete with ribbon and balloon additions) along the ceiling with a “Happy Birthday” sign in front to greet Hunter as he walked through the door. Along our back curtains, I hung a bunch of pictures I had printed out, taped to colored papers and held up with ribbon. Finally, his “card” was drawn/written on a single balloon and hung from the ceiling by a ribbon right by the door, so it was the very first thing he would see.
Hunter is, of course, an awesome chef, and he’s always spoiling me with fun foods. So for his birthday, I thought I would turn the tables and spoil him! I had a lot of ideas for his dinner, ranging from a multi-course Asian-inspired dining experience, to preparing something fancy, to just whipping up some of his favorites, but I ended up… with kind of a random mash-up of things. Again, it was hard to find a lot of things that I would have needed for some of my ideas (darn Dutch grocery stores!), so I stuck with basic, manageable, but still fun foods. And I did like the idea of a multi-course meal, but with no oven and only two burners on our “stove”, executing that (aka having all the food done on time, but still hot) would be hard. So I ended up setting a table with small plates on tiered levels of plates and cups. Presentation on a budget! The foods –
- guacamole/tomato/cilantro salad tossed with lime vinaigratte
- salad with parm, croutons, and homemade anchovy caesar dressing
- buttered pork chop atop sweet mashed squash
- mushroom bacon risotto
- pesto pine nut green beans
- bacon wrapped dates
- pork scallion meatballs with a syrupy and complex soy glaze.
And of course, started his day off with breakfast in bed – “mimosas” made with sparkling cider, orange juice, and strawberry slices; toasted sesame bagels with lox, cream cheese, and dill; scrambled eggs with salmon and onions; and sliced strawberries. Nom nom.
Last but not least, presents! Of course, the whole day was sort of my main present to him. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen preparing everything! Not to mention hours on the tedious tasks of cutting paper, ripping tape, and putting together the garlands. BUT, then I found this relatively inexpensive and perfectly compact waffle maker with great reviews. Hunter and I have been in LOVE with waffles ever since our trip to Belgium where we went kind of crazy overboard eating them… (seriously, they’re unlike anything else you’ve ever tasted). I thought this gift would be a fun reminder of a fantastic trip, as well as a way to recreate the Belgium liege waffles at home!