Tablescapes

From Field to Table

IMG_1676Though I walk for exercise, my eyes are always open for what is blooming in fields adjacent to the path.  There’s Queen Ann’s lace, goldenrod, interesting grasses, cattails, lupine pods and things I can’t even name.  Often I come home with a handful that combined become part of lovely arrangements for the table.

IMG_1677My favorite way to arrange flowers is to put them in a variety of vessels.  It is simple and the containers can be placed randomly to create an easy centerpiece.

IMG_1678The cloth that is background for the flowers is folded on the diagonal leaving part of the table bare. When it’s time to eat, a couple of placemats fill and protect the bare space as well as reflect the quiet background of the cloth.

IMG_1681Playing off the cranberry color of the small vases and the flowers in the textile, these dishes are perfect.  They are  long discontinued from the 40’s and 50’s and were a purchase from an antique show some years ago.

IMG_1687Their appeal is not only the color but the unusual shape.

IMG_1682Adding the thumbprint glasses continues the color scheme and finishes the table.

IMG_1683Tonight the family will gather around what we call the big house meaning it’s a step up from the breakfast room.  Having teenage girls get involved in the table preparation is a great way for them to recognize that setting an attractive table can be very uncomplicated.  Sometimes a pretty table is also a gentle reminder to use good table manners!

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Tablescape Thursday

Tablescapes

The Why of Table Setting

Friends who know I enjoy table setting have asked me why.  There are several answers, but the one that comes to mind first is that it is opportunity to be creative.  It took me a long time to recognize that, and once I did it opened the door to a new way of seeing.  The story of how I began to view setting the table as creative is another story which would take some time to tell.

flowers/tablescapeSo, how does one make table setting a creative process?  For me, it begins with there always being something on the table from which to draw inspiration.  Does that say something about my not liking bare surfaces? Here, it was nothing more than flowers arranged simply on a runner.

Now, I have to confess to being a dishaholic.  The beauty  is that it creates a variety of options when it comes to selecting.  With the colors of the flowers and the runner as influences, I picked these dishes for our evening meal, but the selection could just as easily have been a solid color that works well with a variety of accents.  By the way, places like TJ Maxx, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Goodwill are great resources for items that are both inexpensive and add flair to your table.

You will notice that the table is prepared for two, the hubby and me.  Whether it’s the two or us or company coming, the table will add to the experience of eating. That is a gift I give to others as well as myself.  

What is really important about setting tables or anything else for that matter is allowing yourself to acknowledge that you are creative!  From there, how you begin to see and think becomes second nature.

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Tablescape Thursday

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Tablescapes

Olive Oil Cans & A Corkscrew

Ordinarily whatever happens to be on the dining room table inspires a dinner, but this time around the reverse was true.  I really wanted to make lobster risotto for our gourmet group which made me think an Italian theme would be a nice accompaniment. After looking around to see what would work to make that happen, these old olive oil cans  and an antique corkscrew from a Florence flea market got the table started.

From there creating a look with an Italian flair got pretty easy.  Of course, I couldn’t resist adding a few bottles of flowers from the garden.    All were on a beautiful handwoven textile made with threads as fine as a strand of hair.

There was no question about what dishes to use.  The colors in the centerpiece made these harlequin patterned ones the perfect choice.   These are among my oldest, and I never tire of using them as they lend themselves to such a variety of accessories.  Here the plate is on a copper toned charger which added a touch of texture.

Also from Italy, Cortona I believe, are my favorite napkin rings cast to depict a variety of herbs.

Because I’m not a real rule follower, I like mixing and matching.  This time I chose to do that with flatware.

My rule for setting a table is to keep it as simple as possible for the comfort of guests so I avoid using more pieces than are required for the meal.  Here only a bowl for the risotto and a salad plate were necessary.

Keeping it simple doesn’t mean sacrificing warmth or interest which together welcome guests to your table.

A word about the lobster risotto or any risotto for that matter.  Many people steer away from risotto thinking it has to be made  just before serving.  Not so!  You can make it ahead of time saving enough liquid to add at the last minute.  Then all you have to do is heat until all the liquid is gone, dish it up and serve.  That takes all the stress away.

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Tablescape Thursday

Food, Tablescapes

Mixing It Up

Until recently I never thought of using these vases on the table, but once they landed there they’ve inspired several settings.  The colors lend themselves to many options and it’s so easy to refresh the flowers.This time around a table runner with some of my favorite colors is the background.

With these pieces on the table, it was easy to add others for a simple at home dinner with friends. Perfect color matches are in these dishes from Target. 

Though I often mix and match, this time I’m sticking with the coordinating salad plates and adding a napkin that introduces a variation in pattern but is true to the color way.

That’s all there is to it.  In less than 10 minutes, the table is set made easy by what was already there.  That is why I rarely leave a table top bare, and it doesn’t bother me at all if the same pieces are used multiple times. It’s fun to see how many different looks can be created from the same elements.

This dinner was preceded by a busy day, and that’s when a slow cooker comes in real handy.  Not only does it provide the freedom needed to do other things, it fills the house with tantalizing aroma.  For sure that was the case with these Asian Style Short Ribs that you just might want to try.

Asian Style Short Ribs

6 lbs. short ribs

salt and ground pepper

3/4 t. 5 spice powder

1/4 c. each hoisin sauce and ketchup

2 T. rice vinegar

2 T. soy sauce

1 T. fish sauce

1 T. honey

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

1 T. minced fresh ginger

5 cloves mince garlic

Season the ribs with salt, pepper and 5 spice powder.  Brown on all sides in a multipurpose cooker or broil until nicely browned.

Mix together remaining ingredients and place all in the cooker being sure to coat the ribs well with the hoisin mix.  Cover and cook on the low setting for about 6 hours or until the meat is very tender.  If the ribs are boneless, cooking time will be less.

For serving, place the ribs in a bowl or on a plate and moisten with some of the cooking liquid.  Garnish with Italian parsley or cilantro and chopped roasted peanuts or cashews.

Serves 6

I can assure you there will be no leftovers!

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Tablescape Thursday

Table Settings, Tablescapes

Beasts, Birds & Fish

I never know what is going to inspire a table setting.  This one, I think started with seeing a red, red robin bob, bob, bobbing in the fountain.  That made me think of bird topped cloches and birdhouses, all sitting on a bright orange silk runner from Vietnam that repeats the colors of spring flowers.

From here, everything takes on a life of its own. Placemats from Thailand trimmed in orange and green provide a neutral background for whatever dishes are chosen.

Though I have little bird napkin rings, I chose these carved wooden ones from Kenya. After all, beasts and birds do one another no harm.

As I’m putting this table together, my mind is thinking about what food to serve.  I decided on fish, salmon in fact because it fits right in with the color scheme.  With that decision made, choosing plates was very easy.  

As an afterthought, I changed the wine glasses from the etched ones to the orange globed ones that I seem never to think about except at Thanksgiving.  They add just the right amount of color and are a nice contrast to the textured Fostoria water glasses.

The beasts, birds and fish have no trouble coexisting, and for me the table represents some of what I like best about spring as well as brings back memories of places I’ve traveled.  It will be fun to share with the friends who are coming.

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Tablescape Thursday

Table Settings, Tablescapes

Getting Back to Normal

After a couple of months of doing nothing much except laying in bed with my foot elevated, it felt good to get back to normal activity like cooking  and setting the table.

Mind you the effort was minimal, but it doesn’t take much to make a happy table especially when there’s already something there from which to work.  The handblown vases that have been  on the table for weeks gave me a starting place.

I started with pink placemats, but the turquoise ones insisted on being chosen.  Since I like color I had no problem letting them have their way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChoosing the napkins was a piece of cake as these multicolored ones from Anthropologie play off  both the vases and the placemats.  No fancy folds required because the fun napkin rings continue the colorway.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was tempting to add more color with the dinner plates, but I opted for white ones

and added salad plates with playful patterns and complementary colors.  They were pleased to be included as they have been hiding in the cabinet for far too long!

Finished with the ever faithful Fostoria thumbprint stems, a gift from my now hubby several years before we were married, the table is done.  It is a first step that makes me feel that all is right with the world!  The hubby is even happier as he has had enough of kitchen duty and is glad to welcome me back to the business of preparing meals.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Tablescape Thursday

Holiday Decor, Holidays, Tablescapes

Getting Ready

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor the hubby and me, Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday.  Maybe that’s because it’s the only one where the family still gathers at our house, and each year we hope that all of our small brood will be at the table.

img_8283Most things stay the same from the table setting to the menu. Out come the dryer hose pumpkins that have been a centerpiece mainstay for oh so many years.  

img_8280The trick is to create a little different look each time they appear.  At some point, I may have to start repeating!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

No question the Della Robbia ironstone will come out of the cabinet for its annual appearance.  It is the first set of dishes I bought so they have real sentimental value, and given that only one piece has been broken they are indestructible.  For sure the color way is reminiscent of the 70’s, but for Thanksgiving it is perfect.

Like with the pumpkins, the challenge is to change things up each year, and that is getting harder.  It’s likely that that no one notices whether anything is different,  but for me its’s  what makes setting the table fun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMost years a little something new is added.  It may be a placemat

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAor glasses or napkin rings.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome months ago I purchased this inexpensive flatware thinking the colors and shape were fun.  It never occurred to me that it would be a great match for the Thanksgiving dishes, but here it is. Carson of Downton Abbey probably wouldn’t approve of the arrangement, but it adds a bit of jauntiness.

The something new this year are the place holders that I recently found in a cute shop in Franklin, Tennessee.  You can bet they will be part of tables to come.

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With the table ready, I’d best get thinking about a grocery store list!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Tablescape Thursday