A Time to Play

Creating a centerpiece is fun, a time to play and let creativity shine.  

tablescapeIt can begin with a kid’s toy

filled with flowersor a collection of sprinkler cans.

southwestern tableWhen the garden is blooming wildly,  gather a handful of blooms and arrange them in a collection of favorite bottles.  This is the simplest way to stage any tabletop.

tablescapeSculptural shapes are fun to use as part of a centerpiece and interesting textiles are great inspiration for color.

Halloween tablescapeSeasonal creations can be full of whimsey

white tablescapeas well as reflect the season’s bounty.

Valentine tableThere’s no time better than holidays for play.

Christmas decorPull out those favorite things and let them star on a table.birdhouse tableHave a collection?  Use pieces from it as part of a playful creation.

tablescapeEven a serious table can be play as it involves bringing beautiful glass and china and silver out of hiding.

IMG_1975What is wonderful about creating a centerpiece is that it can be used again and again as inspiration for tables.  Simple changes can create an entirely different look, so play and see where it leads!

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Tablescape Thursday

Table Settings, Tablescapes

Last Minute Doings

Planning ahead is not one of my long suits.  No, last minute spontaneity is my game, and more often than not it works pretty well.  Sometimes it takes a couple of phone calls to make something happen, but rarely does last minute not work out particularly when the invite includes food!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile dinner is cooking away,  I prepare the table, and there is usually something on it  that gets me started.  Here, it’s some of my trusty  bottles filled with flowers from the garden.  What would I do without them as they make a centerpiece so very easy. These are left from San Pellegrino beverages, and I find them perfect for grouping.


My table settings are generally simple and defined by color, pattern and a touch of whimsey, all combined here in the placemats and napkins.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASubtle hued dishes, one of my many sets gotten at TJ Maxx, are tonight’s choice.

Now, I could have stopped here, but I couldn’t resist adding these salad plates, each one different and suggestive of something that could have been created by Picasso!  As I think about them, I can’t help but smile remembering the unexpected snowy day in Provence where an artist kindly opened his shop and let my daughter and me have a look.  He definitely came out ahead!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust as I was finishing the table, the placemats made me think of the little monkey bells sitting on a bathroom shelf.  How could they not become part of what is turning out to be a very fun table!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell, that’s it.  Everything is about ready, and in a few minutes the doorbell will ring announcing the friends who we are lucky to have join us.  I do love these last minute gatherings!

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Inspiration Thursday

Tablescape Thursday

Food, Tablescapes

At Home With Friends

With few exceptions, friends are no longer cooking, choosing to eat out or pick up something at one of Houston’s many takeout places.  While I enjoy getting out of the kitchen from time to time, I must confess to enjoying home cooked more than most prepared foods.  So does another friend, so once each week we share dinner at home, taking turns preparing the meal.  Not only does this give each of us a night off, but we thoroughly enjoy the time we and our hubbys spend together. 

Just as comfortable as our time together are our tables, nothing fancy just a simple setting.

Knowing how much I like bottles, a friend had brought these little ones, each filled with flowers that just happened to blend perfectly with the colors in the runner and the bottles that were already on the table.

So, for our casual dinner, all that had to be added were napkins, plates and cutlery.  How simple!

The napkin rings are wooden animal shapes that were purchased in Kenya.  They are always happy reminders of that trip.

With little effort, we are ready for our shared dinner.

This night we are having  Grace Young’s Stir Fried Shrimp with Rum.  Stir frying is one of my favorite methods of cooking, and as you can see my wok is much used!  What I like about stir frying is that it doesn’t require large quantities of anything, it is a simple  and healthy way to cook and the result is always tasty.

Stir Fried Shrimp with Rum

1 lb. large shrimp

Juice of 1/2 lime

3 T. ketchup

3 T. rum

2 t. soy sauce

1/4 t. ground white pepper

2 T. peanut or coconut oil

1 T. minced garlic

1 T. minced ginger

1/2 t. salt

1 tomato, cut into thin wedges

1 green pepper, cut into thin strips

1 onion, cut into thin wedges

1 T. finely chopped cilantro

Combine ketchup, rum, soy sauce and ground white pepper in a small bowl.

Heat wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1-2 seconds.  Swirl in the oil, add the garlic and ginger.  Stir fry 10 seconds or until the aromatics are fragrant.  Push the aromatics to the sides of the wok, add the shrimp evenly in one layer.  Cook undisturbed 1 minute.  Sprinkle with salt and stir fry until shrimp begins to turn orange.  Add tomatoes, bell pepper and onions and stir fry 1 minute or until the shrimp have turned almost totally orange.  Swirl the ketchup mixture into the wok and stir fry an additional minute.  Add cilantro.

Serve over rice for a 4 person  main course.  Enjoy!

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Let’s Dish

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Thursday Favorite Things

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That Something Extra

As confessed before, I love bottles and frequently have them as part of table decor.  Sometimes they are filled with blooms, other times they may be a candleholder or they may  simply add color to the table as they do here.

The runner in shades of purple, orange and green was already in place and provided clues for the colors to be repeated.  With all the shapes, sizes and colors of bottles I have, it was no problem picking the ones that would work.

I hadn’t thought about what dishes to use for dinner, but when I opened the cabinet door, these jumped right out.  They are from Target’s Octavia Hill Collection and have all the right colors.  How lucky is that!

Completing the setting for a week night dinner at home are green Fostoria glasses and a mixed collection of Pier One napkins.  Setting the table is, for me, the fun part of preparing dinner.  The little extra effort to make it attractive communicates positive vibes to the family and, perhaps, makes the food taste better!

Later in the day, the light shining through the glass added an extra sparkle.   Until that moment, I had not noticed that the colors on the table were very much the same as those in the chair behind.   I’ll not confess to that being purposeful!

With the table set, it’s time to move on to dinner.    Since it is the beginning of the Chinese New Year, this will be a good time to try one of Grace Young’s stir fry recipes.  Come back tomorrow and I’ll share some of her tips with you.

Joining Tablescape Thursday which each week features wonderful tablescapes.  Check it out.

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