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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Birthday Luncheon for the Girls of Summer

It's once again time for Centerpiece Wednesday with the Style Sisters.  I am reprising this post because I want to share my Daughter-in-love's wonderful and delicious cakeballs.  They not only make a beautiful and whimsical centerpiece, they also serve as a marvelous party favor for my guests!


Before the Garden Friends Bible Study began a summer hiatus, we gathered one more time to celebrate birthdays for our dear friends who were born during the summer months.  It was a precious time of fellowship with my dearest friends.  I enjoyed every moment preparing for them to come to my table.


  It was a gorgeous sun-filled day when I took this early morning shot.  My table was all set, waiting for a few last minute details...and my precious friends.


Once again, I chose to place a special order with my daughter-in-love for her beautiful and delicious cake balls.  The Red Velvet cake balls on lollipop sticks, individually wrapped and embellished with chocolate organdy ribbon, were perfect as a centerpiece.  My guests took some home as a party favor to share with their families.


Small creamware tulipieres held gorgeous Parrot Tulips, from my dear friend, Marsha's, yard.  We call these 'roadsideia.'  The buffet was flanked with two jardenieres holding Azalea plants.  The flowers were simple, by design, but they added just the right touch.


Zina Vasi designs lovely table linens that are made in Russia.  The cloth for today featured bunches of cherries and butterflies.  My name happens to be 'Cherry Kay,' so this one seemed a natural choice for me.  I found several of these on close-out at Dillard's, and they can also be found occasionally on eBay.   They are made in a nice variety of designs and sizes, and they launder beautifully.  Take a look at them sometime.  I think that you'll like them.  White Italian faience candlesticks provided continuity for my table.  I pick them up periodically on eBay, for a mere pittance.

There are some nice estate sales in our area.  I found the Fire King Jadeite "Alice," on the second day of a sale for $3.00 each.  I've since learned that my purchase was a great find.  Woohoo!  I'm enchanted by the color and the knowledge that they were originally commonly used in restaurants.  They are seated on Spode, "Luneville" dinnerplates, atop Caspari rattan service plates.  The flatware is Argent, "Sophia," another one of my Tuesday Morning purchases...also available through Horchow.  The baby blue linen napkins have a heavy passementerie design.  They are part of a round placemat set that I found on eBay.  They are one of my favorites, and I use them frequently.

I liked the smooth pearlized surface of the pink goblet, bought years ago on close-out at Pier One, contrasting with the texture of the cut crystal goblet, Cash Crystal, "Sutton Place."  Cash Crystal is also marketed as Godinger Crystal.  These goblets look quite opulent, but they can still be bought very inexpensively.  Did you see the tiny MacKenzie-Childs salt & pepper? I collect them, and they add a special touch to many of my tablescapes.  I like the reflective value of the individual dessert cloches, a Tuesday Morning find, at each place....


...and I adore the nests that my generous friend Marsha created...just the perfect size to hold an 'almond amaretto' cake ball for dessert.  Check out my daughter-in-love's blog: http://www.blackberryvine.blogspot.com/ for more information about the cake balls.  She is so incredibly talented!


The time has come, and I just heard the door bell ring.  My cherished Garden Friends have arrived.  They've each brought a delicious dish for us to share...


For our first course, a scrumptious cold strawberry soup looked perfect in the Haviland, "Ranson" cream soups, that once belonged to dear Nana.  I pray that I shall always be a good steward of the lovely things that she made it possible for us to have.  I think of all the magnificent women on both sides of our family each time I create a tablescape to honor my family and friends.  I am truly blessed.  


Everything is prepared.  Here, take a seat on my right.  I have a feeling that we have so many things in common.  I'm excited to have the opportunity to know you better.


"Il n'ya pas de bon repas sans bonne compagnie."  


I am pleased to participate in the 101st Tablescape Thursday at Susan Between Naps on the Porch.  Thank you, Susan, for providing such a wonderful vehicle for those of us who love entertaining, dishes, and tablescape design.  Click on the link below to see a marvelous variety of tablescapes by some extremely talented bloggers.










I am linking this post to "Centerpiece Wednesdays" athttp://www.thestylesisters.blogspot.com
Thanks to The Style Sisters for hosting the party.  Hop on over and see all the great ideas!
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Friday, July 23, 2010

Confessions of a Dishaholic + A Tip for Entertaining

I knew that the addiction was complete when I caught myself smiling, even giggling a bit as I unloaded the dishwasher, full of some of our everyday dishes.  They looked so lovely to me stacked side by side on the counter, waiting to be placed in the cabinets.  For inquiring minds who want to know:  Copeland Spode, Pink Tower; Burleigh, Blue Willow; and Furnivals, Blue Quail.  An ordinary household task that brings me a moment of joy...who knew!

  And now for the tip:  When entertaining, I always make a point of emptying my dishwasher before the party begins.  Why, you might ask?  As dishes are cleared from the table, they can be lightly rinsed and placed in the racks of the dishwasher to await cleaning.  Even when I am using items that need to be washed by hand, the dishwasher is the perfect place to store them until I'm ready to gently clean them after my guests have departed.  Primarily, it keeps my counters from becoming overwhelmed with stacks of dirty dishes. and they are safer in the dishwasher than stacked 'harem scarem' all over the kitchen.  This is an especially helpful strategy for those of us who have extremely limited counter space.  Hope that this idea will make your next party clean-up better!  

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Black & White Lunch on the Back Porch

I've been part of a wonderful Bible Study for the past twenty-three years.  We gather in a different home each year, and we represent a wide variety of denominations.  Our group is called "The Garden Friends," and they have become my dearest friends over the time that we've been studying together.  We celebrate birthdays, once every month or so, throughout the year.  There may be three birthday girls, or there might be seven birthday girls.  I adore the times that I receive the blessing of hosting them for these occasions.  The size of the luncheon group varies from around twelve to around twenty.  This day, I prepared two tables for an al fresco birthday fete for sixteen.

Can you see the trunk of my giant shade tree, just past the Knock-out Roses?  It provides welcome shade, and we normally have at least some type of breeze (We also occasionally have 100 mph straight winds...go figure!).  This particular day offered the best of everything for a birthday luncheon on the back porch.  My back yard is certainly not a fancy spot, but it welcomes my guests to while away an afternoon sharing a meal and conversation.

I am a huge advocate for Matelasse cloths, and I bought these on eBay.  Wheeee!  You'll see them on my tables in many different tablescapes.  Today I thought that they were the ideal complement to my wedding china, Oxford Bone China by Lenox, "Filagree."  I still enjoy using it after all these many years.  I, like so many young brides, seemed to prefer a platinum band for my china.  My tastes have shifted toward gold rims as time has passed.  At one point, I considered giving it to my daughter, but my husband spoke up and said that he really wanted us to keep it for now.  I like that he had an opinion and that he still cared for the wedding china that we picked out forty-two years ago!



The black lacquer charger plate was an inexpensive purchase at Hobby Lobby.  I think that they serve as an effective anchor for each place setting.  Resting atop the "Filagree" is a Haviland "Ranson," Schleiger #1, luncheon plate.  I wanted a set of white china, and I couldn't find one that I liked until I ran across this antique pattern.  I collected them for about three years, and I've enjoyed learning about Haviland, in the process.  "Ranson" is the name of the blank; there are a multitude of different painted designs that were created by Haviland on the same blank.

My black and white color theme was enchanced by the assorted party favor boxes that I made and wrapped with a variety of black and white ribbons.  I made the boxes with my Cricut Expression.  The Cricut is a marvelous tool.  It also creates wonderful place cards.  The boxes rested on some of Nana's crisp white antique Madeira napkins.  I'm a fan of individual salt and pepper shakers, and these cut crystal S&P's added just a touch of shine and a bit of texture.


I liked the subtle splash of contrasting colors provided by the Waterford 'Simply Lime Green" goblets, and the casual arrangement of white daisy mums and pink Alstroemeria.  I didn't want to spend too much on flowers, and good ole Sam's offered just what I needed.  The Black Tole container was an estate sale purchase.  I actually found three of the same design that day.  I use them regularly, and you'll see them again!  The Reed & Barton, "Francis I," was my mother-in-love's sterling flatware, and we are blessed to have it.  I used it on one of the tables.  I think that it works well with the "Filagree."  On the second table, I used our wedding silver, Reed & Barton "Grande Renaissance."  It was bought to complement the  "Filagree."  

 
It's always an easy endeavor to design a tablescape for my Garden Friends because each one of them always calls and offers to bring a dish for everyone to enjoy.  The food is always magnificent, and I don't have to prepare the entire meal.  Are you ready to eat, yet?  What did you bring to share with us today?  Sit next to me...I want to get to know you better!

I am participating in Tablescape Thursdays, with thanks to Susan Between Naps on the Porch.


Friday, July 16, 2010

RED, WHITE, AND BLUE LUNCHEON


RED, WHITE, & BLUE LUNCHEON
HAVE I TOLD YOU ABOUT
MY DAUGHTER-IN-LOVE'S
CAKE BALLS?

My friend BJ and I decided to host a luncheon for a group of our sorority sisters.  We hadn't seen some of them in 40 years!  Yep, I'm that old.  We agreed that we would work with a 4th of July theme.  We wanted it to be somewhat casual, but very special.  There were 16 of us at the luncheon, so I created two tablescapes for our group.

As the ladies arrived, they were given a Mimosa to start the party.  The conversations picked up as if we had never been apart.  It was amazing and marvelous!  After the guests were seated, I served a first course of chicken noodle soup in blue and red star shaped bowls. (Yes, I really like chicken noodle soup.)  The invitations had requested that each person bring a "cold salad to share with your cool sisters." Every contribution was "church lady food" delicious.  For dessert, I served my daughter-in-love, Jamiann's, scrumptious cake balls. (http://blackberryvine.blogspot.com)  They are so good, they are evil.  More about the cake balls in a moment...

 Jamiann not only created cake balls for dessert, she also made individually wrapped, ribbon tied, cake balls on lollipop sticks.  I used two oasis-filled blue ceramic bowls to create cake ball centerpieces for each table.  They were quick and easy to assemble, and they had a great impact as a design element in the tablescapes.  These were red velvet flavor, and each guest took some home to share with her family after the party. 

Once seated, each guest found an individual covered dessert cloche filled with two cake balls presented on a bed of red, white,  & blue candies.  These were Pina Colada and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.  The individual covered dessert pedestals were a birthday gift from a dear friend.  She found them at Tuesday Morning Mall.  I saw some there as recently as June.  They are also available through Pottery Barn for a higher price.  I use them quite often, and my guests always comment on them.

The "Outdoor Collection," enamelware red and navy chargers and the white enamelware dinner plates were bought on clearance from Pottery Barn last year.  They are dishwasher safe and really fun for casual occasions.  The blue with white stars napkins are actually bandanas, available at Hobby Lobby for $1.27 each.  The ribbon completed the 'stars and stripes' effect.  The blue handled flatware is Argent "Sophia," purchased at Tuesday Morning Mall.

  The red goblet is such a nice size for water or iced tea.  It is Lenox, "Holiday Gem."  It is also made in a great Christmas green.  I believe that it is still available.  The cobalt goblet is by Libby, and I bought it at the Dollar Tree for $1.00 per stem...a great find!

This wonderful 1920's vintage white linen tablecloth belonged to Nana.  It's really too long for this table, so I fold it under, and it works quite nicely.  I've thought about hemming it, but I can never bring myself to cut into it.  Who knows?  Someday I might decide to use it as a drape!  It is unadorned, and I liked it for this crisp, clean tablescape.

My co-host, BJ, provided the charming 'frog jars.'  They are aqua green Mason jars that come with two lids.  One is the traditional lid, and one is a wired lid that works as a frog for flowers.  There was a frog jar with Gerbera Daisies for each guest to take home as a party favor.  They were a real hit with the ladies!  They add a special touch to a casual table.  BJ left some extras with me, and I'll use them often for future tablescapes.  Yippeeee!!!  Thank you, BJ!!!

I often use the game table in my living room for overflow seating, as well as for smaller luncheons and dinners.  The table is actually 48", but here I've utilized one of my 'flip-top table tops.'  With the flip-top, I now have a 60" table, which can seat a generous 8 to a tight 10 guests.  When seating 10, there is not enough space to use service plates, and I need to place smaller chairs.  Today, the table was set for 8.

I'm always intrigued that the same elements can be so distinctly unique on the two different table shapes. Everything is the same on this table with the exception of the tablecloth.  Here I've chosen a white matelasse' tablecloth that I purchased on eBay.  I really enjoy entertaining at a round table.  The conversation flows so easily, and everyone tends to participate equally.
Are you ready to dine, yet?  Grab your plate.  We're serving in the kitchen.




          I am linking, for the first time to The Tablescaper.blogspot.com's "Summer Sundays."  Check out all the contributions and enjoy this summer day.  I want to thank The Tablescaper for this opportunity to share.


The Tablescaper hosts a weekly meme entitiled SUMMER SUNDAYS and it’s all about what summer means to YOU. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Stop By For a Bowl Of Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup



Do you ever long for the opportunity to return to a simpler, low-stress time, when life moved at a slower pace?  When I need to decompress from the madness of life in this new millennium, I like to invite some close friends to join me at the table for a modest bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup, hot bread, and dessert.  It's amazing how time seems to be suspended for a few hours as we share fellowship and a simple meal.  I highly recommend it; a shared meal with friends is good for the soul! 

My huband and I learned long ago that we both live well with blue and white.  As a child, my dolls under the Christmas tree were always dressed in blue, and my sister's dolls were always dressed in pink. My Mama and Daddy understood my affinity for blue long before I did.   The plates are Burleigh Blue Willow, an English Transferware that is still available on the secondary market.  They are one of my sets of 'everyday dishes,' and we've had them for many years.  We use them regularly.  This set was a gift, over a period of several birthdays and Christmas holidays, from my mother-in-love.  She would ask me what I wanted her to start for me 'next,' and it was usually a set of wonderful dishes. She couldn't have given me a better gift!

For a simple, 'come on over for lunch,' get together, I try to keep my centerpiece somewhat simplified.  I often use a large tureen in the center of the table in lieu of a floral centerpiece.  Crystal decanters placed in several spots on the table are perfect for wine, water, or tea.  Guests are comfortable pouring refills for themselves.  Placemats also add to the relaxed ambience.  These are Royal Fieldcrest, and I bought them for pennies in an eBay auction.  Yay, eBay!

The multi-colored wine goblets are AJKA 'Arabella.' I bought twelve many years ago at Tuesday Morning Mall, and I wish that I had bought more.  They are very versatile.  The crystal goblets are Cash Crystal, 'Sutton Place.'  I bought them for a song on eBay.  They are quite large, and they work well for water, tea, or a great huge glass of wine.  The candlesticks are my old friends, the Val St. Lambert.

 A couple of bundles of yellow tulips plopped in the blue & white export fish bowls add a pop of contrasting color, while fulfilling my goal to 'keep it simple!'  You can never go wrong with tulips.  Did you know that you can poke a small hole (think toothpick) through the stem, just below the blossom, and the tulip will remain upright, instead of drooping?  I was a very happy camper when I learned that trick.  

I saw a picture of Hungarian painted eggs in a book.  I immediately decided, "I can do that!"  I went to Michael's and bought several sacks of artificial eggs.  The shells look and feel authentic, but they have a kind of foam interior.  I mounted them on a skewer, stuck them in foam to hold them still and started painting. I used acrylic paints, and I finished them with a coat of satin finish varnish.  I've used them a number of times. I think that they'll last for years!  I liked them with the Lalique Roosters that once belonged to Nana, my husband's grandmother. The white napkins were purchased on clearance at Pier One.  I tied them with assorted patterns of blue and white ribbons and placed them just above the Reed & Barton Grande Renaissance silver.  The reticulated compotes were an inexpensive purchase from Hobby Lobby.

The soup's ready.  I've about decided to switch to a clear crystal wine glass.  Hmm.  What do you think?  This one is part of my wedding crystal, Lalique, Treves.  Come, take a seat, please.  I'd love for you to sit right next to me, and we can get to know each other better...and plan a beautiful table together.  Such fun!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

If It Doesn't Move, Paint It!



I was 40 when I finally realized that I am an artist. It's what I do; it's who I am. It was such a grand relief to be able to verbalize my own definition of me! I love to paint, paint, paint, and my favorite endeavors usually involve trompe l'oeil murals and decorative painting on furniture. I was thrilled when my son and daughter-in-love asked me to paint a mural on the wall of the nursery for my grandson. Jamiann, incredibly creative in her own right, asked me to interpret scenes from Beatrix Potter's PETER RABBIT books. For me it was a work filled with love. I had a precious experience creating the nursery mural for my first grandchild. I hope that you will enjoy the photos!

The dormer ceiling was a challenge and an interesting feature in my mural.  I was able to take the tree up onto the ceiling, an effect that I like.

I interpreted scenes from a number of the Beatrix Potter books to create my vision of Peter Rabbit's countryside.

Benjamin Bunny surveys the countryside and keeps a keen eye on Peter and his friends.

Jeremy Fisher is hoping to catch the big one.  It doesn't happen!

Jemimah Puddleduck has high hopes for what turns out to be an ill-fated escape from the barnyard. I think that she is my favorite of the characters that I painted.

The wonderful, magical tree, that becomes the focal point of the mural...so much going on:  Jamiann asked me to paint a banner with a special scripture that she had chosen for my new grandson.  Squirrel Nutkin has a large nut in his hand.  He's offering to share it, although I don't think that he would have done that in the books. Mrs. Rabbit is preparing a meal for the babies bunnies; and Peter and Young Benjamin Bunny are finding shelter after Peter lost his coat in Farmer MacGregor's garden.  Poor Peter. Will he ever learn?




Jeremiah 29:11

I know that the day will come when these walls will need to be repainted to make room for boys who are growing way too quickly in my mind.  It's a blessing to be able to record a 'time that once was.'
I hope that you enjoy my mural!

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