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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Birthday Friends

First things first...We are truly blessed to have the means to set a pretty table and invite our friends to join us for good food and fellowship. As the harvest season approaches I am mindful that many are not so fortunate. My daughter has a passion for the work of the Food Bank. As a singer-songwriter, she has written and recorded a song that is the anthem for the world wide Crop Hunger Walk project. Her song, "Raise Your Voice" is featured in their video. I've included a link in the side margin of my blog. I hope that it will encourage you to support projects in your community that contribute to the effort to overcome hunger.


I celebrate my birthday in November.  I always teasingly say that any woman worth her salt can make her birthday celebration last almost a month...this year, that mantra proved to be quite true.  Last week, a small group of very close friends gathered to celebrate my special day at my friend Debbi's house.  You remember Debbi, my friend who loves to decorate for Halloween.  You can revisit her Halloween house HERE.  On this particular sunny Autumn day, the spooks and goblins have been tucked away until next year, and Debbi has designed a lovely Fall tablescape for us.

A Southern exposure is perfect for the ethereal sunlight that filters through the tall windows and gracefully touches the lovely table design that greets us as we enter Debbi's home.

The lovely goblet was part of a set that Debbi scored when a local replacements business decided to close many years ago.  They are so special; I don't know the maker.  Villeroy & Boch's white stoneware  is highlighted by Hobby Lobby's bronze acrylic charger...

...and set off beautifully by the wonderful Zina Vasi Edwardian Print tablecloth.  Zina Vasi linens are manufactured in Russia, and they are available at Dillard's.  I have been quite impressed with Zina Vasi's designs and the quality of her linens.  I think that you'll like them.

Battenburg lace napkins were a great complement to the white of the dinnerware...

...and we were all wild about the beaded acorn napkin rings.  Debbi couldn't remember where she found them.  Bummer.

This gorgeous deep tole tray became a gorgeous centerpiece featuring a trio of small pumpkins.  I had to work really hard not to covet this piece.  I love it!

The carved wooden Pilgrim and Indian couples flanked a tray of Debbi's homemade pumpkin bread.  She sent each of us home with a loaf.  I've been thoroughly enjoying mine.  Thought that I might take it for our Thanksgiving feast, but I don't think that I'll have enough by tomorrow.  So yummy!

Lunch is Debbi's homemade Chicken Chili, accompanied by salad and corn bread muffins.  Dessert was a delicious coconut cupcake plated with a raspberry puree....gained a few extra pounds this day!

I can't imagine a lovelier setting for my birthday lunch, surrounded by dear friends.  It was a perfect day, and I think that we all got home just in time for dinner!  I would love to think that you could join us the next time!

Thank you, yet again, to Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for hosting her magical meme, "Tablescape Thursday.  I'll be linking my post to "Tablescape Thursday.  Click on the button below to hop on over and check out the myriad of marvelous tablescape designs, after 9:00 pm on Wednesdays.  You'll be glad that you made the trip...it's a wonderful adventure.



     




You can check out KC's music at www.kcclifford.com, on iTunes, and on YouTube.  I hope that you'll take a few minutes and give her a listen.  You'll also enjoy reading back through her blog on this site.  The girl can really write!  Her latest CD is called "Orchid."




   

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Butterfly Birthday


First things first...We are truly blessed to have the means to set a pretty table and invite our friends to join us for good food and fellowship. As the harvest season approaches I am mindful that many are not so fortunate. My daughter has a passion for the work of the Food Bank. As a singer-songwriter, she has written and recorded a song that is the anthem for the world wide Crop Hunger Walk project. Her song, "Raise Your Voice" is featured in their video. I've included a link in the side margin of my blog. I hope that it will encourage you to support projects in your community that contribute to the effort to overcome hunger.


Several weeks ago, I was thrilled to learn that I had won the give-away from Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for a service for four of Mikasa, "Modern Butterfly."  The moment that I opened the box that appeared on my front porch, I knew exactly how I wanted to use it.  My friend Sheila absolutely ADORES butterflies, and her birthday is November 18.  On Monday, the 15th, I hosted a luncheon for four featuring "Modern Butterfly" to celebrate Sheila's birthday.

I want to recognize Mikasa for their generosity and kindness, and I have decided to share some of the options that I considered while designing my tablescape for the party.  There are so many possible variations for this gorgeous pattern; It took a bit before I could pick just one and go with it.  I think that you would have a blast using this marvelous design.  It lends itself to a multitude of design styles; I think that you're going to want to add these pretty butterflies to your personal collection.  Grab your net!  (I need to advise you that this is a photo intensive post.  Scroll away!)

I started...

...with a matelasse tablecloth.  I bought the fabric on eBay, and I made the cloth.  Tip:  When I make the cording, I cut my strips on the grain instead of on the bias.  It makes the cording much stiffer, and it holds the folds in place as the cloth falls against the floor.

Not only did the color of the cloth compliment the soft sage in the dishes, the design in the matelasse seemed to showcase the stylized artwork in the dinnerware.

I liked the potential of the individual dessert pedestals...

...the natural rattan charger from WalMart...

...WalMart's dark rattan charger...Have you found your personal look, yet?...

How about the animated flavor that flourished when I added the Hobby Lobby black acrylic charger...really emphasizes the graphic nature of the design...for those of you with a more contemporary flair...


While I was playing with the Mikasa, "Butterfly," the postman delivered this black and white toile tablecloth, an eBay purchase...so I gave it a try...pretty spectacular, don't you think?  It really punches up the black weighted lines that make up the form of several of the butterflies...


---or how about a shot of red sandwiched between the butterflies and the toile?...

Ultimately I chose the matelasse cloth and the red acrylic charger.

So many choices, so little time...I finally decided to go with the red charger and the matelasse cloth.  I added the vintage small red bowls, an estate sale bargain.

The Argent, "Sophia" 'gold' flatware is a Tuesday Morning find.  The color in the handle picked up just the right touch of golden yellow in the butterfly wings.  More of the plate color is repeated in the Waterford, "Simply Pink" goblet.  I love these goblets; they have a way of adapting to different shades of pinks and reds...very chameleon like. Our precious Nana is once again responsible for several elements in my design.  She used the lovely white linen napkins for years; I suspect that they are Marghab, but I can't verify that.  The ruby flash bowl and oriental stand also graced her tables...and now mine.  

 The clear wine goblet is Lalique, "Treves."  It is a part of my wedding crystal; this single stem was responsible for my choices for china and crystal all those years ago.  I still cherish it.  When Sweet Mr. and I were married, I was amazed that friends would actually spend $25.00 per goblet as a gift for us.  The individual salt and peppers are by Mackenzie-Childs.  Victoria Childs is such a gifted artist.  Her designs are all at once whimsical and elegant.  I've been collecting different styles of these tiny jewels for several years.  We have a wonderful store, On A Whim, that stocks a huge inventory of Mackenzie-Childs.  Check them out at www.onawhimokc.com.

The centerpiece is a mixture of flowers that I found at Homeland Grocery Store.  Do you see the white color behind the pink medallion in the ruby flash bowl?  Tip:  I didn't want the green oasis to detract from the lovely design in Nana's old bowl, so I actually constructed the centerpiece in one of my Blue Willow cereal bowls that just happens to be solid white on the outside. Not only was I able to effectively camouflage the infrastructure of my design, but if I need to, I can change the ruby flash bowl for a different piece that is better suited for a different tablescape.  My dear friend Cindy, at http://www.moreentertainingwomen.blogspot.com/, is hosting a large party in her home tomorrow night.  I took the flowers to her this afternoon, and I'm thrilled that they can be put to good use once again.  I added the butterflies for Sheila's special day...I found them several years ago at Pottery Barn.


Okay, I'm going to shyly step into the world of candlelight photography...
...and miles to go before I sleep...At this point, I went to bed, excited to greet my guests the next morning.

Everything's ready.  I decided to go with the small pink votives instead of the tapers...

...And I chose to exchange the small red bowls for the wonderful Mikasa, "Modern Butterfly" rimmed soup.  It was perfect for the first course, Tomato Bisque.

For the main course, I prepared a Shrimp Remoulade Salad and Quiche Lorraine.  Dessert was my mama's Brandy Ice, always a winner with my guests.If you'd like the recipe, it can be found in an earlier post HERE.

Everything is in place, and we're ready to come to the table.  See the blue gift box tied with the red picot ribbon?  Inside is one of the Mikasa boxes that contained a place setting of the beautiful Mikasa, "Modern Butterfly."  At the end of the party when the gifts were opened, I gave my dear friend Sheila this amazing china service for four as her birthday gift.  She absolutely loved it, and now she's going to go home and order more!  I hope that some of you have decided that you must have this pattern, too.  You're going to love creating your own tablescape with it.  Thank you once again to Mikasa and Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for making this magical celebration a reality!





Thank you, yet again, to Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for hosting her magical meme, "Tablescape Thursday.  I'll be linking my post to "Tablescape Thursday.  Click on the button below to hop on over and check out the myriad of marvelous tablescape designs, after 9:00 pm on Wednesdays.  You'll be glad that you made the trip...it's a wonderful adventure.     




You can check out KC's music at www.kcclifford.com, on iTunes, and on YouTube.  I hope that you'll take a few minutes and give her a listen.  You'll also enjoy reading back through her blog on this site.  The girl can really write!  Her latest CD is called "Orchid."
 

  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fou Fou Bridal Shower

First things first...We are truly blessed to have the means to set a pretty table and invite our friends to join us for good food and fellowship. As the harvest season approaches I am mindful that many are not so fortunate. My daughter has a passion for the work of the Food Bank. As a singer-songwriter, she has written and recorded a song that is the anthem for the world wide Crop Hunger Walk project. Her song, "Raise Your Voice" is featured in their video. I've included a link in the side margin of my blog. I hope that it will encourage you to support projects in your community that contribute to the effort to overcome hunger.


The painting has been completed in the dining room!  I finished loading the crystal back into the cabinets last night; only a few pieces of art and the large mirror need to be hung...and I've decided to take down the plantation shutters and install window treatments instead...that will take a while longer.   In the meantime, I'm sharing a wedding shower that I previously hosted with several friends. Although I'm relatively new to blogging, I have quite an archive of tablescapes to share...and they're all new for you.  Just don't be confused when my dining room keeps changing wall colors!

 I enjoy setting a pretty table for young brides.  I always hope that my efforts will inspire them to carry on the tradition of gracious entertaining in their own homes for years to come.  Today's shower took place on a Sunday afternoon from 2:00 - 4:00 PM.  Sunday afternoon is my favorite time to host a shower, and I really like to do 'pretty lady' showers.  I've done my share of couples' showers which usually include a dinner; but my preference is entertaining ladies.  I like to host bridal showers on Sunday afternoon because I find that there are fewer regrets...not so many conflicting obligations for guests.  In addition, this time slot proves to be pretty budget friendly...everyone has recently eaten lunch, and no one is ready for dinner.  I like to set an abundant table, none the less.  My formula usually includes:  a fruit dish, a cheese dish, tea sandwiches, and something chocolate plus other sweets.

There is a dear little lady in our city named Mrs. Beavers.  Mrs. Beavers has been making tea sandwiches for customers since the 1950's!  I have her name because she regularly made these lovely treats for my mother-in-love for many years.  I fear that this may have been the last party for which she supplied goodies.  I think that she retired after our event.  She was so reasonable.  She charged $40.00 for 100 tea sandwiches, and her's are the best that I've ever tasted.  The large oval Barker-Ellis galley tray worked well for Mrs. Beavers' sandwiches. Other items available for our guests included Melting Moments, Petit Fours, and Chocolate Cream Sherry Bars.

The bride-to-be was planning a 'black and white' wedding, so we chose to use the same colors in the tablescape.  I used a white antique Italian cutwork linen tablecloth that belonged to our sweet Nana, one of the many lovely table linens that we are blessed to shepherd until it's time to pass it on to the next generation of family.  The three black tole jardinieres were a fortunate estate sale find...$10.00 each.  I filled the containers with Oasis.  There is a full block of foam in each pot, turned lengthwise.  I built them simultaneously, which made it easier to make them all alike.  I wanted them to resemble topiaries.  As I do so often, I bought the flowers at Sam's.

  The long narrow galley tray is also a Barker-Ellis piece.  The silver chafing dish is another of Nana's wonderful serving pieces.  Just behind it, you can see the companion piece.  One of my favorite dishes to serve at parties is  Brie en Croute.  It's easy to prepare, and always popular with guests.  I encase a wheel of Brie in refrigerated pie crust dough.  With the left over dough, I cut out decorative shapes and apply them to the top.  It is baked according to the instructions for the pie crust.  I often spread a thin layer of preserves on the cheese just before I place it inside the crust...makes an unexpected little treat when the guests bite into it.  I usually serve it with sliced pears and apples...so good!  Midway down the table is an Italian Cream Cake, one of my favorites.

The tall black apothecary jars were a Hobby Lobby find on sale for half-price, and I used simple arrangements of two colors of lilies, also from Sam's.  Tip:  I arrange lilies several days in advance to give them an opportunity to open adequately.  If you've perused some of my older posts, you know that I enjoy creating the 'napkin tower' for bridal showers because it reminds me of a frilly wedding dress.  As a base, I used the inexpensive three-tiered Anchor-Hocking glass cake plates, often available at Bed Bath & Beyond.  I placed different sizes of silver trays on each layer to dress it up a bit.  The vintage napkins are another of Nana's bounty of treasures.

Each napkin holds a 'diamond ring' napkin ring.  Tip:  Three of us each bought a number of these rings, and we share them for large parties.  They are so much fun!  Think co-op with your tablescaping buddies.  The luncheon plates are Haviland "Ranson."  I collected them for a number of years, and they are one of my favorite patterns.  Tip:  I highly recommend luncheon plates if you like to entertain.  They give you new options for mixing and matching because they allow you to use most dinner plates as chargers.  Additionally, at events for ladies, they are quite appropriate because women traditionally consume smaller portions of food.

The guests are arriving, and everything is ready. When possible, I like to have everything on the table before the party begins.  I find that this strategy makes it easier for me to enjoy the party.  I'm excited to celebrate the bride's special day.  I would love for the day to come that you could celebrate with us, too!

I thought that you might enjoy having a few of the recipes that I used today.  They are all delicious!




MELTING MOMENTS
COOKIE:
2/3 C. Cornstarch
1C. Flour
1C. Butter
1/3 C. Powdered Sugar
FROSTING:
1/4/ C. Butter, softened
2 C. Powdered Sugar
2 T. Lemon Juice
Rind of 1 lemon, grated
Sift together cornstarch and flour.  Cream butter and sugar.  Add sifted dry ingredients.  Drop by teaspoon on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 325º for 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool and frost.  To prepare frosting, cream butter and add sugar alternately with lemon juice and rind.
Note:  I like to make these tiny and bite size.  I use a 1/2 t. measuring spoon and mound the dough into the spoon.  They don’t increase in size a great deal while baking.  I end up with between 75 and 100 small cookies.  Also, a lemon will usually yield more than 2T. juice.  I often add an additional tablespoon to the frosting.  It makes it a bit easier and nicer to spread on the cookie.  These can easily be made several days in advance and kept in an air tight container.  Enjoy!  You can’t eat just one!      




CHOCOLATE CREAM SHERRY BARS
BASE:
4 oz. semi-sweet or unsweet baking chocolate                       
1 C. sifted flour
1 C. butter     4 eggs
2 C. sugar     1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
Melt chocolate and butter.  Cool slightly.  Beat eggs until light.  Gradually add sugar.  Add remaining ingredients and beat 1 minute.  Pour into greased and floured 9 x 13 pan.  Bake at 350º for 25 minutes.  Cool.
FILLING:
1/4 C. sherry                                       1/2 C. butter
4 C. powdered sugar                            1/4 C. half & half
1 C. chopped pecans
Beat together butter and sugar.  Gradually add cream and sherry.  Mixture should be light and fluffy.  Spread over cooled base.  Chill
TOPPING:
1- 6 oz. pkg. Semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 T. water
4 T. butter
Melt chocolate with water and butter.  Mix well.  Drizzle over filling.  
Chill until firm.  Cut as desired.  Refrigerate.  Makes 5 dozen 1/2 inch bars.

ITALIAN DELIGHT CREAM CAKE
1/2 C. Shortening
1/2 C. Butter
2 C. Sugar
5 Eggs – separated
2 C. Flour
1 t. Baking Soda
1 C. Buttermilk
1 Can (7 oz.) Flake Coconut
FILLING:
1/2 C. Butter
1 Pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese
1 Box (1 pound) Powdered Sugar
1 t. Vanilla
1/8 t. Salt
1/2 C. Chopped Pecans
Blend shortening and butter together.  Add sugar gradually until fluffy.  Add yolks one at a time, beat well after each addition.  Sift flour and soda together.  Add to mixture alternately with buttermilk beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Add 2/3 C. coconut to batter.  Beat egg whites until peaks form – fold into batter – pour into 3 greased and floured 9 inch round pans.  Bake at 350º for 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool cake and frost with filling.
Mix butter and cream cheese at high speed.  Gradually add powdered sugar.  Continue beating until smooth.  Add vanilla and salt. Spread between layers and top and sides.  Sprinkle rest of can of coconut on top of cake.  Cover sides with chopped nuts.  I double the icing/filling recipe, and instead of just coconut sprinkled on top, I also cover the top and sides with chopped pecans.  Soooooo Goooood!
You can check out KC's music at www.kcclifford.com, on iTunes, and on YouTube.  I hope that you'll take a few minutes and give her a listen.  You'll also enjoy reading back through her blog on this site.  The girl can really write!  Her latest CD is called "Orchid."

UPDATE:  KC performed in New York City last night for a Standing Room Only crowd at The Living Room.  She is working her way south along the East Coast and the West toward home.  If you happen to be in one of the following areas, I hope that you'll go hear her!

Thursday, November 11

K.C. Clifford Returns to Roanoke!
Kirk Avenue Music Hall  8:00 pm
Roanoke, VA
http://www.kirkavenuemusic.com/

Friday, November 12

K.C. Clifford @ St. John Lutheran Church, Benefitting Faith In Action
St. John Lutheran Church  7:00 pm
Abingdon, VA
http://www.abingdonfaithinaction.com

Saturday, November 13

K.C. Clifford - Concert/Fundraiser for Wake Forest Museum
Wake Forest Museum  7:30 pm
Wake Forest, NC

Sunday, November 14

K.C. Clifford & Louise Mosrie at RPM Live Music Nights
RPM Live Music Nights  7:00 pm
Columbia, TN
http://www.kimjameson.com/RPM/Welcome.html

    

Thank you, yet again, to Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for hosting her magical meme, "Tablescape Thursday.  I'll be linking my post to "Tablescape Thursday.  Click on the button below to hop on over and check out the myriad of marvelous tablescape designs, after 9:00 pm on Wednesdays.  You'll be glad that you made the trip...it's a wonderful adventure. 







I am also linking my pose to "Centerpiece Wednesday" at The Style Sisters...so many wonderful designs to inspire us.  Go check them out!
Centerpiece Wednesdays Button

  


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Flaming Festival, 2010

First things first...We are truly blessed to have the means to set a pretty table and invite our friends to join us for good food and fellowship. As the harvest season approaches I am mindful that many are not so fortunate. My daughter has a passion for the work of the Food Bank. As a singer-songwriter, she has written and recorded a song that is the anthem for the world wide Crop Hunger Walk project. Her song, "Raise Your Voice" is featured in their video. I've included a link in the side margin of my blog. I hope that it will encourage you to support projects in your community that contribute to the effort to overcome hunger.


Each year during the first week of November, Kappa Alpha Theta Alumnae host The Theta Flaming Festival.  The festival features tablescapes, some created by members and friends and some created by local merchants who also offer their wares for sale.  Although I am not a Theta, for years I have done tablescapes for this marvelous event with dear Theta friends.  This year a small group of us was asked to create the centerpiece for the tea table, where guests are served tea or coffee and cookies throughout the day.  Because the speaker for the luncheon today was Walter Scheib, the former White House chef for Bill and Hillary Clinton and George and Laura Bush, we decided that we wanted to build the White House out of Haviland Ranson china.  We had so much fun, and I thought that you might enjoy seeing the fruits of our labor.








I also thought that you would enjoy gleaning ideas from some of the gorgeous tablescapes that were on display today at the Flaming Festival.  I do need to warn you that you are entering a photo intensive zone, but I think that you'll really enjoy them!






  































 Look closely at the two floral arrangements.  The tablescape designer has taken the lids of the two apothecaries, turned them upside down inside the jars, and placed flowers in them...great idea!



I loved this table because of the old doilies.  Do you have a drawer full of these that belonged to your grandmothers?  I thought that this was a darling idea!



Is your mouth watering?




You can check out KC's music at www.kcclifford.com, on iTunes, and on YouTube.  I hope that you'll take a few minutes and give her a listen.  You'll also enjoy reading back through her blog on this site.  The girl can really write!  Her latest CD is called "Orchid."

    

Thank you, yet again, to Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for hosting her magical meme, "Tablescape Thursday.  I'll be linking my post to "Tablescape Thursday.  Click on the button below to hop on over and check out the myriad of marvelous tablescape designs, after 9:00 pm on Wednesdays.  You'll be glad that you made the trip...it's a wonderful adventure.