Festive Fall. Festival. Festive, all!

Last night my family gathered to celebrate my beloved mother's birthday!  There never has been, is not, and never shall be a way to express to her how much we cherish her and appreciate her selfless love for us over the years.  Nonetheless, we tried in what way we could to make her feel special for the evening!  We pitched in to prepare a menu of her favorites:  salmon, jasmine rice, broccoli, fruit salad, and carrot cake.  I followed Mark Bittman's recipe for salmon roasted with olive oil and herbs, and I used Smitten Kitchen's carrot cake recipe (sans raisins -- ick!).  The cake turned out nicely, though I must admit I found myself thinking, "This would be even better with chocolate..."  The evening was capped off by s'mores around the firepit in the backyard.  I love family evenings at my parents' house!

Carrot cake! 

I wanted to decorate the table in some way that would tie in the colors and textures of fall.  Fall is my mom's favorite season, and I associate its beautiful colors and golden sunlight with her.  I created a little center piece with a few different elements:

I found these great candle holders at Michael's Arts & Crafts and filled the base of them with layers of different beans, peas, lentils, etc.  They naturally have an interesting variety of shapes, colors, and sizes.  I then tied some twine around each one to add to the "rustic" feel. It was inexpensive, easy, and beautiful!

I also scattered up and down the table 12 of the paper balls you see in the photo, using cardstock in a range of fall colors.  These are really fun and easy to make, though they take a little bit of time between tracing, cutting, and locking together each of the sides.  My older sister taught me to make them, and I plan to make them for other occasions; they'd make really fun garlands and Christmas ornaments!  If you're interested in trying your hand at them, templates and instructions are here.

Happy birthday, mom!


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