at home, Tablescapes

Quick & Easy

When friends suggested we gather one more time for dinner before the hubby and I leave for Maine, I, without thinking, offered to host.  Sometimes I am too spontaneous for my own good!

Luckily, my dining table is rarely undressed which made getting it ready quick and easy.  The new favorite table runner from India, decorative gourds from San Miguel and trivets were in place.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith this beautiful runner, I like to keep the table simple and chose to use clear glass dinnerware on a subtle placemat. 

I had no solid napkins so the next best thing was to use ones with essentially the same colors as the runner.

They are bound with flexible holders that were a gift from a friend who knows how I like setting tables.  That’s the kind of friend to have!

As I was putting wine stems out, my eye was drawn to the orange in the runner, so I put the etched glass ones away and opted for the orange stems that usually come out only at Thanksgiving.

All done but for the flatware.  I know Carson of Downton Abbey wouldn’t approve, but I do like to lay it in different ways to add an unexpected touch.

So, in a matter of minutes, the table is set.  I’ve also thought of simple fixings for dinner: pasta mixed with tomatoes, basil and olive oil 

and one of my favorite go to desserts.  What this goes to show is that entertaining doesn’t have to be stressful or require a lot of preplanning.  The real point is to enjoy time with friends.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Joining

Tablescape Thursday

Travel

Prague: A City of Contrasts

If you’ve heard of only one place else in Czechoslovakia it is likely to be Prague, a city of amazing contrasts.

Unlike many of the cities visited on our river cruise, Prague was not damaged during World War II meaning that the Old Town is intact.  Away from it, everything is newer, more modern indicating that Prague is a thriving 21st century city.

Though Prague is full of attractions, what I liked best was wandering the  streets paying attention to all that was going on whether it was men  restoring an aging facade,

meticulously relaying a cobbled street

or  working to attract a crowd and hoping to be rewarded with a few coins.

Markets were a great place to people watch,

 sample a few local goodies. 

and observe vendors, some of whom were busy demonstrating their skills, preparing food for jostling customers or passing the time until someone came along.

It was surprising to see a canal in Prague.  My first thought was how that resembled Venice.  The only thing missing was gondolas being managed by striped shirt gondoliers!

IMG_0946Walking miles every day means there had to be time for some refreshment, and I liked stopping in at some random place

IMG_0948and having Czech food and a Pilsner Urquell.  Talk about a pause that refreshes!

Yes, Prague has much to offer.  Architecturally, it is a jewel with its buildings representing many centuries.

IMG_0979Oh, and have I mentioned gingerbread and that Czechoslovakia is famous for it?  It comes in many forms, but when I tell you that foie gras served on thin slices of gingerbread is over the top, believe it!  I’d go back to Prague just to have it again.

So much for this journey of three plus weeks.  It’s time to go home.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

ramblings

Resisting Temptation

Forgetting that yesterday was a holiday, I headed out as usual on a Monday.  My first clue that things were different was that there were no flashing lights in school zones and traffic was lighter.  Finally, it dawned on me the reason why.  While for some Monday was a day off, retail stores were open and it seemed a good opportunity to do a little browsing.  As luck would have it, the first place that caught my attention was World Market, always a fun place to take a peek.

Greeting me upon entering was a big welcome to the Year of the Dog.  People born in this year are said to be affectionate, faithful, straightforward, courageous, smart, inspirational, loyal, honest, trustworthy and warm hearted.  That’s quite a list of admirable characteristics.

There were shelves of goodies perfect for a Chinese New Year celebration.

IMG_0153Combined with the red and white dishes, they would make a very fun table.

Speaking of tables, all I could do was imagine the ones that could be created with collections from Portugal, Morocco, Fez as I have sworn not to buy any more dishes.

IMG_0158The handcrafted Thai  pottery lends itself to a tasty meal concocted of dishes selected from a beautiful book of recipes and stories of Thailand.  That kept me looking for several minutes as the place and the food are among my favorite.

IMG_0180As its name suggests, World Market has goods from all over the globe.

IMG_0173Having recently visited Jaipur, it made me happy to see hand stitched quilts from there.  As I looked at the neat rows of stitching, I could not help but think of the women who I had seen doing this kind of work and were probably paid so little for their effort.

IMG_0174Moving on to the food section where there is such a varied selection made me hungry so it seemed a good time to finish browsing.

IMG_0177I didn’t get past the beverages though as these bottles are great for serving water once they are empty.        

IMG_0166Moving on to the checkout counter, I passed by a display of teapots and cosies that were so cute I was sorely tempted, but I just kept walking.  Resisting temptation is a continual challenge!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Travel

Next Up: Bikaner

After a very long and tiring bus ride, we arrived in Bikaner too tired to do anything other than shower and go to bed. Next day there were sights to see, but most of us didn’t have the energy to trek around. Bikaner was said to have some wonderful textiles, so four of us headed off to find them.

It didn’t take long for us to find ourselves in textile heaven!

Piece after piece was thrown on the floor in front of us. Each one was handmade exemplifying astonishing skills from weaving to appliqué to embroidery.

Some were of the finest fibers with the very softest being those from a baby camel. I never would have thought camel hair to be suitable for weaving.

Much of the work is done by women working at home, but here we saw these ladies sitting on the floor doing their lovely handwork. While I was in awe of their work, I did not envy their sitting on a hard floor while doing it.

I can’t tell you how long we were in this one shop, but I can tell you that we purchased so much that we were presented with a gift, a sari. Now that is something we weren’t going to buy for ourselves, but we are very happy to have this special memory of India and had fun going native that evening at dinner.

Back at our hotel, we were welcomed by this gentleman who was only too happy to have his photo taken. I was quite surprised when he pulled from behind his ears the rather dramatic extension of his mustache. I must say we’ve seen some pretty spectacular facial hair during this adventure!

Speaking of hotels, the ones we have experienced have been spectacular. Several are palaces that have belonged to maharajahs. In fact, some still claim ownership and lease the property to hotel operators. Quite a nice way to have all those rooms become income producing, wouldn’t you say?

In addition to being very plush the service is amazing. Every employee goes out of his or her way to be helpful and pleasant.

And let me not forget the food, always freshly prepared

and beautifully presented.

Yes, this trip is a kaleidoscope of contrasts which is what makes is so very interesting.

Maine

More Maine

Lest you think Maine is all about the coast and islands and boating, come with me a few miles inland. Very quickly it becomes rural making you think you are in a different place.

Town lines are far apart as are houses in the scarcely populated areas.

Along the road, cattle laze in the fields

and horses stare out to see what is interrupting the quiet.

Farm equipment suggests a way of making a living that is quite different than that on the coast.

With fall closing in, there is evidence of gathering for winter

and wagons are stacked high with hay that will keep livestock fed when grass is covered with snow.

Barns are as common as houses in the countryside.

Sometimes when I’m taking pictures, a curious neighbor comes out to chat which is a great way to learn about an area.  Folks like to tell what they know as happened with this barn.  It was built in the mid 1800’s by a gentleman who then owned thousands of acres that were farmed and provided timber.  Over the years, heirs lost interest in working the land and sold off the property bit by bit.The barn fell into disrepair until a few years ago someone who respected its architecture bought and restored it.  These days it’s used for nothing but storage, but the owner keeps it in pristine condition which is probably what caught my eye.

Another characteristic of these rural areas are general stores.  Keep in mind that Maine is made up of many small towns and grocery stores are few and far between.  

The general store provides basic necessities and serves as a gathering place for locals to meet and share what’s going on.  In some cases, it serves as the post office and an offsite bank.

It’s not surprising to find the general store is also the local eatery.

and I’m telling you there are some pretty good vittles there.

Yep, Maine has lots to offer if one takes the time to explore.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

 

 

 

 

entertainment, Maine

Not Your Ordinary Winery

When you think Maine, it’s not likely you think wine much less a Napa/Sonoma style winery.

Well, let’s change that by visiting Cellardoor which these days is producing award winning wines.

The setting is pure Maine, rolling hills and beautiful vistas.

There are grapes growing in the vineyard, but they are mostly to convey authenticity  as most of the wines are made from grapes brought in from California and New York.

Production, however,  is on site in a very modern facility where barrels are stacked high for the aging process.

Cellardoor is located in Lincolnville, a few miles from Camden, and it’s a great place for visitors to experience.

After a tasting, the grounds are perfect for sitting in the sun to enjoy a favorite wine and a cheese plate or sandwich. 

Aside from producing wine,  Cellardoor hosts cooking classes by chefs well known in the area as well as special dinners throughout the year.

VinfestAs if that’s not enough some of the most fun events in the area are held in the vineyard.  You can count on incredible settings, great food and surprising entertainment.  When tickets go on sale, they are gone in a matter of minutes!

VinfestWe’ve been entertained by the Temptations, Huey Lewis & the News, Backstreet Boys and finalists from The Voice to name a few.  

Cellardoor is not just a winery, it’s a happening and if you are ever anywhere close, you don’t want to miss going there!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Joining

Tablescape Thursday