Tablescapes

Done Right!

The hubby and I so look forward to our gourmet group gatherings both in Houston and Maine.  The hosts do such a great job menu planning and presenting the evening’s gourmet delights. Our recent gathering was no exception.

It’s the season for Mardi Gras celebrations which provided inspiration for the table festooned with gold, purple and green.

Each place was set with baubles and masks creating a festive atmosphere that defined the evening.

Every detail right down to the colors of the tulips was done right.

The hostess not only made a king cake, but she dipped oreo cookies in white chocolate and embellished them with sprinkles of Mardi Gras colors.  Each one of us was lucky to take a few home.

The table was so perfect we hated to mess it up and almost opted for eating the delicious dinner featuring jambalaya in the kitchen.

As I was snapping away, one of the fellas said there should be a photo of a person admiring the table.  Do you think it possible he was hoping to be featured on a blog post?

While I was so busy taking pictures, the rest of the gang was in the kitchen scarfing down the muffuletta stuffed eggs!  By the time I got there, only one had been saved for me.  That had to be a good sign that they were very tasty.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave hehind

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Tablescape Thursday

Tablescapes

Festive Holiday Tables

It’s a fun time of year to visit stores to see what’s new for festive holiday tables.  Of course, that always makes me wish for new things which I’ve sworn off of, but that doesn’t mean the displays aren’t full of good ideas.  There were plenty in the lovely tables set at Crate & Barrel.

  Wood chargers are popular choices these days and work with a variety of looks.

Here they are combined  with other natural elements, real or not.  And take a look at the knitted table runner, a real eye catcher that made the table appear even more warm and cozy.  How I wish I were a competent knitter, but that not being the case I’ll be keeping an eye on the after Christmas sale!

Touches of whimsey are such fun.  How simple to add something like this cute little critter and make a table oh so playful.

Putting a little take away happy at each place is a great idea, no matter the time of year, for when friends are coming to dinner.  

There are so many different ways to create a festive table.  A little sparkle and shine dresses up any table whether it be by adding a glimmery napkin

or glistening tableware and sparkling accessories.

What every table had in common was multiple textures

and a centerpiece that allowed everyone to see and be seen.  As I studied each one and came away with some great ideas, it dawned on me that there are no rules for tablescaping. That’s what makes it such a wonderful opportunity to express one’s creative flair.

Have fun as you do your own festive table and don’t be shy about getting inspiration from other sources!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Tablescape Thursday

Food, Tablescapes

Just the Two of Us

For the first time in several weeks, it’s just the hubby and me at home.  That means some relaxed moments on the porch enjoying the sunset over Rockport Harbor.  The days are getting shorter now, and the colors are deepening as summer begins to wane.

When it’s just the two of us, life is pretty simple.  Breakfast is a bowl of cereal or a smoothie or this time of year a blueberry muffin to go with coffee.  Lunch is whatever, maybe a sandwich, maybe hummus with crackers and cheese.  Nothing fancy for sure.

When it comes to dinner, it’s still simple, but a bit more effort goes into making it more than a stand up meal.  Always, there are flowers gathered from the garden or from the side of the road.

Whatever dishes are used are meant to complement the runner or placemats that are on the table.  This night they were from Dollar Tree which is a great place for picking up new pieces inexpensively.  No tears are shed when a plate gets broken!

It was a piece of cake to finish this table by adding accessories that repeated the colors in both the plates and the cloth.

As silly as my kids think it is, I always use cloth napkins.  Maybe it’s my contribution to saving trees and reducing what goes to the landfill!  Besides, it’s so easy to tuck them into a napkin ring which makes their presentation a bit more special.

So, that’s the table.  Now, what about dinner?  More often than not, we have seafood which is local and fresh. 

One of our favorites is scallops, likely to have been brought in from the sea that day.  They are at their best when seared quickly on each side to preserve their sweet goodness.  This night they were served over corn risotto with a simple green salad on the side.  It doesn’t get better than that!

So, there you have it, just the two of us enjoying a relaxed night at home with a few touches that make it seem a little special.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Tablescapes, Travel

Some Things Aren’t Planned

ProvenceSome years ago, a daughter and I had one of those impulsive moments when we decided there was no better time to go to Provence than a couple of days later.  Excuse for such a whim was the need to exchange a pair of shoes which had been purchased months before.  Good enough, right?

As luck would have it, rather than the moderate winter weather we expected, it turned bitter cold and started snowing.  The result was like what happens in Houston when a few snowflakes fall. Traffic came to a screeching halt, 18 wheelers where slipping and sliding all over the road and what should have been a 45 minute drive was turning into an all day trip filled with tension.

As we inched along, I spied a sign reading FAIENCE with an arrow pointing to a nearby building.  That was all it took to get me off the road as at that point any diversion would be a welcome relief.

Of course, the shop was closed thanks to the inclement weather, but spying two desperate looking women parked in his driveway, the owner took pity and came out of his warm home to open his very cold workshop.

Oh, how the day did brighten as we wandered among his colorful and unique creations.

Whether out of gratitude or because I really liked his work I came away with four dinner plates and four salad plates no two of which were alike.  Not until we were underway again did I think about the challenge of getting them home without breakage.  So it is that every time the table is set with these dishes, each of which is undamaged, memories come flooding back of an impromptu adventure that had more than a few surprises.  

Oh, did we exchange the shoes? Let’s put it this way…..we tried!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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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

Flowers, Tablescapes

Flowers As Art

Beautiful floral arrangements are works of art, particularly when they are created to meet a challenge such as that demanded by Florescence, an annual themed flower show in Houston. For two days the entries are displayed at the Museum of Fine Arts where huge crowds marvel at the astonishing creativity. 

 With so many of you interested in tablescapes, how could I not share these with you!  The arrangements  were to depict a dining experience at an exotic destination on a functional table for two. You may not find every element of the tablescape to be practical, but there is inspiration on each for our at home tables.

This is a very formal table with layers of textiles complementing the gold accents on the stemware and china.

Unique features are the unexpected use of orchids on the candlestickand the fish jumping into bowls filled with iridescent baubles.

As with the first table, a tall arrangement is the focal point.   I couldn’t help but think of sitting at either and wanting to move the arrangement to the side.

Two things, the teacup as a containerand a natural leaf secureing the napkin, are features  worth remembering.

This table is all about fun and thanks to the clever arrangement I could almost forgive its size as a centerpiece.  The use of pattern and color is consistent in every detail

right down to the elephants suspended at the layered corners.  What sets this table apart is its touches of whimsey.

Here pattern is key,and the layered textiles define the color palette used in both the flower selection and tableware.  

Overall, this is a simple table made warm and inviting by color and texture.  Did you notice that the floral arrangement is on the side?

So, there you have it, four different looks.  Keep in mind that in each case the table is secondary to the floral design. As beautiful as they are, the arrangements are a bit overstated for an at home table, but there are wonderful ideas for presentation and flower selection. Hopefully, there is something on each table that would translate to your personal style be it flower selection, color combination, the layering of cloth, the mixed textures or touches of whimsey.   I’d love to know your take away.

  i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Tablescape Thursday

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Table Settings, Tablescapes

Wait, There’s More!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor sure there is more to this New Year’s Eve table other than it being created around the centerpiece of holly trees and finials that has inspired  each of my December tables.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANo, this one begins with the china that is one of the few things I have that belonged to my mother.  It is not likely what I would have picked, but it is dear to me because of the memories it evokes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t remember ever having seen her use the little salt cellars.  I found them in a cabinet after she died and have no idea of their origin, but I held on to them without thinking about how their gold trim was a perfect complement to the china.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Fostoria glasses were also Mother’s, and the soup spoons came from my  mother-in-law’s kitchen.  From her I have even fewer things than from my mother, but she left me with a heart full of love.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe wine glasses have a story starting with the one in the middle. Years ago I was with my parents in an antique shop in North Carolina where they were then living.  For whatever reason the glasses caught my eye and when Daddy saw me holding one and turning it this way and that he said, “Sis, if you like those, why don’t we get them?”  Done, and so began my collection of mismatched etched stemware.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEven the napkin rings hold their own story and remind me of the time when a daughter and I were to meet in London and go on to the Cotswolds.  At the last minute, her trip was cancelled thanks to an unexpected business decision, but I went on since my ticket was nonrefundable.  It turned out to be a wonderful solo adventure, and the napkin rings were a purchase at a small shop in the middle of nowhere filled with handmade items.  That explains the attraction!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell, that’s the story of the table, and for me remembering the people and places that each piece represents makes it a great way to end the year.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Tablescape Thursday