I am not a fan of winter. Especially in Pretoria, South Africa where everything is brown, dusty and dry in the mid-winter months of June and July. And as Murphy’s law would have it, my husband and I both celebrate our birthdays in July, one day apart.

But this year I promised myself that winter will not get me down again. I will focus on all the positives which come with winter. For me “hygge” is the biggest one of them! (According to the Wikipedia, hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment).

So with hygge in mind, we decided to celebrate our birthdays this year, with family and close friends, at Tin Roof Café outside Pretoria. No shopping and prepping for days in advance. No running around to get everything perfect before the guests arrive. And no stressing to get the food out while making sure everyone has something to drink and someone to chat to. We decided to get someone else to take care of that so that we were able to enjoy quality time with our guests.

The weather played along and Jenny set a beautiful table outside under the pergola, for an alfresco lunch. I love to use potted herbs for table décor. They look beautiful and guests can pick from them, to add to their food, as they eat. Lemons, picked in our garden, with guests’ names written on the leaves, worked beautifully as name tags to indicate seating. And the kids loved their picnic blankets on the grass. That was my contribution to our relaxed and laid back party.


Guests were handed Italian peach juice laced with vodka, as they arrived, to set the mood.

For antipasto we enjoyed crisp focaccias with olive tapenade and a delicious pesto, sundried tomato and mascarpone dip. We bent the Italian dining rules a bit and had a fresh garden salad with it.

For primo we had two dishes. Spinach and ricotta gnocchi and scampi baked in a delicious Napolitano sauce topped with crispy garlic and parsley breadcrumbs.

Secondo consisted of soul warming rustic oxtail served on creamy mustard mash with roasted baby carrots; and roasted lemon and sage chicken served on risotto with roasted butternut.


Dolce was a rich chocolate terrine with butterscotch sauce, orange gel and crème fraiche.

I did not even bake a birthday cake this year, but instead asked my friend Hannah to bake her delicious vanilla sponge with stone ground flour and organic sugar, layered with lemon curd and a Swiss meringue butter cream icing. It was divine!



Even though we love to entertain at home, we really enjoyed being able to spend quality time with our family and friends on our birthday party this year!

Check my Romancing the Home blogger friends’ posts for more hygge inspiration!

Ramona at Ruffles and Rust

Talia at My Shabby Shack

Lorraine at Tamarind and Thyme

Hygge – Enjoy life’s simple pleasures!