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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Finery

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. 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 always look forward to the blessed relationships that are to be shared at our table on the most important day of my year...Easter Sunday.  This year, we were a small group of eight.  After church services, Sweet Mister and I were blessed to celebrate this holiest of days with a luncheon for family and friends.  I must admit...I had a ball creating this tablescape.  When I'm entertaining a coed group, I generally try to avoid setting a table that is too feminine, but on Easter, all the normal rules are null and void.

  Pinks and greens were perfect for this day filled with dreams of bunnies and chicks, lovely decorated eggs, and baskets full of sweet treats...oh, and flowers...lots of beautiful spring flowers.


The Zina Vasi, "Spring Jacquard" tablecloth was an eBay find.  I did happen to check, and the seller has a few more available, if you just can't resist.  This particular cloth is 144" long, and it fits my table when fully extended, but today, I didn't use all the leaves because I only needed to seat eight.  Now I play pretty free and loose when it comes to using tablecloths.  I'm known to turn them under at one end if they are too long.  And I sometimes use two cloths if one is too short.  But this lovely presented a slightly different dilemma. Because of the pattern, it needed to fall just right at both ends.  Tip:  To make it work, I created an inverted pleat in the tablecloth right in the center of the table.  That's why I used the vintage pink linen and organdy place mats...to camouflage the pleat on top of the table. 


Here it is before I added the other design elements...

I decided that an inverted pleat would lie better and have a more subtle appearance.  Now you know my secret!  What kind of tricks do you have for making linens work when they really don't fit correctly?

Did you notice how the pleat barely shows?  

The vintage pink linen and organdy place mats were an estate sale find...$10.00 for 12 mats and 12 matching napkins.  Tip: They were pretty dingy looking when I bought them.  I washed them and then soaked them in Vintage Soak for 48 hours.  They looked brand new when dried and ironed. I buy it at a local shop, The Antique House (405-495-2221).  It works like magic on vintage natural fiber linens.

  I used the silver beaded charger to add a contrasting shine to the table.  Resting on the charger is Wedgwood's, "Countryware" dinner plate and a reticulated unnamed luncheon plate marked 'Italy.'  Both plates were bought on eBay.  

As a finishing touch, each place setting is crowned with a vintage Fenton, "Pink Coin Dot" bowl, which I used to hold our first course, a chilled Avocado and Cucumber Soup.  I'll bet that you've seen these old fashioned goodies in your grandmama's or great-aunt's house.  I really think that they were originally used as candy bowls, and I used to think that they were kind of dopey.  Then, one day I ran across a group of them, and experienced an attitude adjustment...soup bowls...dessert bowls...the possibilities were suddenly infinite!  Spoken like a bonafide dishaholic.  Today, they reminded me of sparkling glass Easter baskets.

   Our Reed & Barton, "Grande Renaissance" sterling flatware mixed well with a set of silver plate cream soup spoons that I found on  eBay.  The individual salt and peppers are MacKenzie-Childs.  I used to be one of those people who would go out and buy an entire collection of this or that.  I eventually realized that 90% of the fun is in the hunt, and I changed my ways.  I now relish acquiring one at a time.

Two more eBay finds, the water goblet is Waterford, "Simply Pink", and the wine is Bohemian AJKA, "Arabella".

The Bunny Bowl has been around for many years.  I don't even remember when I bought it.  I thought that it was a perfect centerpiece for our Easter celebration.  Once again, I've used flowers that I picked up at Sam's.  

To add a bit of bling, I flanked the bunny bowl with four small posies in rhinestone studded candleholders from Hobby Lobby.  The Val St. Lambert crystal candlesticks are interspersed down the length of the table.

A few candlelight shots taken Saturday evening.  No blue hour opportunities on a cloudy gray day.

There's a glimpse of Sweet Mister lending a hand in the kitchen.  Everything seems to be in place.  Oh my gosh...I think that I'm actually organized today.  New concept.

My daughter's car just pulled into the circle drive.  She loves pink and green; I think that she's going to really like our table.  It's going to be a wonderful day to celebrate our Risen Lord!  I pray that you've had a peace-filled Easter surrounded by family and friends, too!







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."   Hop on over HERE 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."  It is available on iTunes or through her website.  I hope that you'll give her music a chance.  I know that I have zero objectivity where she is concerned, but I think that you'll fall in love with her music and her!   

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Queen Sparkle's Tea Party

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. 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 quickly approaching nuptials of Prince William and Cate Middleton are featured everywhere we look lately.  I've seen numerous lovely Royal tea parties posted in blogland.  I think that it's time that I give a nod to Wills and Cate with my own version of a tea party.  This day, I hosted a small tea party for my dear friend Cindy's mom, often called "Queen Sparkle."

 The game table, with the addition of my handy-dandy flip-top tabletop, was ideal for our group of six.  I bought two flip-tops from Sandy of By Invitation Only (byinvitationonly@cox.net), in case you have an interest. I made the aqua blue Matelasse tablecloth with fabric that I found on eBay.  I use this cloth often, and I wish that I had bought more yardage.  Did you notice the small pewter boxes with the blue and white china lids?  Those were party favors for each guest, provided by Cindy.

For the centerpiece, I used one of my favorite tureens and underplates, Charles Field Haviland, "Schleiger 1328 on Blank 1273".  Did you know that there are more than 35,000 Haviland designs?...boggles the mind!  Remember, the Haviland's were Americans from New York, who went to France, decided to stay, and opened their own factory in the Limoges region.  Although Haviland was manufactured in France, it was always designed for and sold to an American market.  I've enjoyed collecting Haviland over the past seven years.  The crystal decanters sparkled in the candlelight flickering from the four small blue and white pots.  I usually fill decanters with water, tea, or wine for my guests to easily access drink refills throughout the meal.

I created the pair of floral posies from inexpensive mixed bouquets from Sam's with the addition of a few hydrangeas from Homeland.  I constructed them in Oasis-filled peg nappies, which I placed in a pair of tall crystal candlesticks.  I found the candlesticks at an enchanting local gift shop, Room 22.  Check it out!  The crystal goblets are my Waterford "Simply Blue".  I collected these in three colors on eBay over a period of time.  I bought them quite reasonably, but they've increased in price enough that I would have to think long and hard before I bought them today.  That's the reason that I've never bought the fourth color, amethyst...which I would really like to add to the collection.  Oh, well.

Cindy brought these darling blue and white teapot napkin rings to be used for our party.  At the end of the day, they were given to Queen Sparkle as a special gift.  Cindy also provided the wonderful napkins embroidered with teapots.  For such a special event, I used my wedding silver, Reed and Barton, "Grande Renaissance".  After forty-two years, I'd still choose it as our pattern today.  The first course was served on the Haviland, "Schleiger 1328", accent plate.

Today's fare was served on our dear Nana's antique English Tea Cart, positioned next to my chair.  The handkerchief weight linen tablecloth was one of my $15.00 estate sale finds.  The cloth does a lovely job of setting off the antique silver tea service, Nana's wedding gift to us.  Each course for our tea was presented on a tiered hostess tray.  

The first course, Strawberry Lavendar Scones, was well suited for the  Haviland, "Ranson", two tiered tray. 

Second course offerings included Goat Cheese and Tomato Crostini, Ham and Sweet Potato Biscuit Sandwiches, and Crab Salad on Blue-Corn Blini.  Tip:  Here I've used an inexpensive trio of Anchor, glass cake pedestals.  The grouping is available at Bed, Bath, & Beyond for about $20.00.  I like to add a chop plate, a dinner plate, and a salad plate from different sets of my dishes to create a custom tiered hostess tray...so versatile.  Here I've employed the Haviland, "Ranson".

I chose the Coalport, "Sevres Group" luncheon plates for the second course.  It's an interesting pattern.  There are numerous variations of the same basic flowers on these plates...They're just the same only different. :-)  The luncheon plate is seated on a Limoges, "Dresden Flowers" gold encrusted plate that is yet another treasure from Nana.

A Copeland Spode, "Jewel" tiered tray, held desserts including Choco-Chewy Scotch Bars, Strawberry Cakes with Lemon-Vanilla Curd, and White Chocolate and Chai Mousse served in Bissinger's Chocolate Cups. I think that we all indulged and had one of each...so delicious!  The dessert was served on Theodore Haviland, "Rani".

  
Of course, each course was accompanied by plenty of hot tea served in the Haviland, "Ranson" teacups.  We had such a wonderful tea party.  I hope that each of my guests felt like royalty.  I would love to treat you as a royal guest, too.  Do you take sweetener with your tea?

I've included a couple of the recipes from today's tea party.  Enjoy!





Crab Salad on Blue-Corn Blini
Makes 18 servings
1 (8 oz.) container lump crabmeat, drained well & picked for shells.
1/4 C. finely chopped cucumber
2 T. minced chives
1 1/2 t. Dijon mustard
3 T. mayonnaise, divided
1/2 t. salt, divided
1/4 t. ground black pepper
1 avocado, pitted & pealed
2 T. fresh lime juice
1 jalapeno, cut in half lengthwise, seeded, & thinly sliced, divided
Blue – Corn Blini (recipe follows)
  1. In a medium bowl, gently toss together the crabmeat, cucumber, chives, Dijon, 1 T. mayonnaise, 1/4 t. salt, & pepper until mixture is well combined.  Refrigerate.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the avocado, remaining mayonnaise, lime juice, half of jalapeno slices, & remaining salt, and pulse until mixture is smooth. Refrigerate.
  3. Top each Blue-Corn Blini with crab salad; garnish with avocado mixture and remaining jalapeno slices, if desired.
Blue - Corn Blini
Makes 18 blini
1 t. active dry yeast
 2 T. warm water (110º)
1/2 C. blue cornmeal
1/4 C + 3 T. all-purpose flour
1/4 t. salt 1/2 C. whole milk
3 T. butter, melted
  1. In a small bowl, combine the yeast and water, and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.  In a medium bowl stir together the cornmeal, flour, and salt.  Add the milk, yeast mixture, and butter, whisking after each addition.
  2. Let the mixture sit, uncoverd, at room temperature for approximately 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat; when hot, spray the pan with sonstick cooking spray.  Workin in batches of at least three, sppon 1 tablespoon of batter into skillet for each blin, and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until crisp around the edges and golden brown.  Transfer to a plate line with a warm towel or covered in foil to keep blini warm.  (I place blinis on a foil covered cookie sheet.  Then I loosely cover them with another sheet of foil and place them in a 200º oven to keep warm until time to serve.)
  
To serve, place the crab salad on the blini and top with a dollop of the avocado mixture.  Garnish with a thin slice of jalapeno if desired.

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White Chocolate & Chai Mousse
1 1/4 (4-ounce) white chocolate bars, chopped finely
1 1/2 C. Heavy cream
2 bags vanilla chai tea (they used Bigelow Vanilla Chai tea)
1t. vanilla extract
4 egg whites
3 T. sugar
2 (4 – ounce) packages chocolate cups (Bissinger’s chocolate dessert cups)  www.bissingers.com
  1. Place the white chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl; set aside.  Combine the cream, contents of tea bags, and vanilla extract in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Cook just until mixture boils.  Strain mixture over chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted and smooth.  Cover, & refrigerate for 8 hours, or overnight.
  2. Whip white chocolate mixture with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form; place in refrigerator.  In a medium bowl and using an electric mixer at high speed, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form; add sugar.  Continue whipping until glossy and stiff, about 30 seconds more.
  3. Fold beaten egg white mixture into the white chocolate mixture.  Place mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, and evenly pipe the mousse into the chocolate cups.  Garnish with chocolate shards, if desired.
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."   Hop on over HERE 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."  It is available on iTunes or through her website.  I hope that you'll give her music a chance.  I know that I have zero objectivity where she is concerned, but I think that you'll fall in love with her music and her!   


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Luneville & Toile

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. 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.

Luneville faience, French tin-glazed pottery, has intrigued me for a number of years.  It is beautifully designed...so feminine and romantic.  I've been just a bit leery about the original Luneville because I have been told that it was produced with lead based glazes.  With that in mind, I was pleased to discover Copeland Spode's interpretation of the French faience.  Their pattern is named "Luneville".  I usually purchase the Spode for plates, and I'll mix in the original Luneville faience serving/display pieces.  Today, I've used my Luneville for an early Spring luncheon.

   Every once in awhile, I find some neat fabrics for great prices on eBay.  This yummy green and white toile is called "Central Park".  I was able to obtain enough yardage to make a 120" round cloth and a 144" oblong cloth for the dining table.  I like the way that the fabric pulls the green leaves through the window into the vignette.

 With the addition of the "Flip-top Tabletop", the game table is easily converted to a table suitable for seven to eight guests. Today, I'm seating seven for lunch.  Many of you have asked about the pair of green crystal lamps in the background.  We've had them for 26 years, and given the opportunity, I'd still choose them again today.  They are made by Wicker Works, and they are named "Baluster".  They are still in production.

The Luneville faience tureen, placed on a Luneville chop plate, served well as the centerpiece. Flowers are simply small pots of Impatiens from a local nursery.  They'll be planted in the garden later.  Today the pots are placed in reticulated creamware cachepots that I found on clearance at Michael's several years ago.  Tip:  When I find containers like these...and at a great price...I tend to buy quite a few of them.  They stack, so they're easy to store.  I bought 8 of them to use when I'm seating larger groups at multiple tables.  See that one pink goblet?  I set them out in the kitchen for my guests who wanted to have a pre-lunch glass of wine.  They were brought to the table when lunch was served.  I was just doing a dry run here.

I've always been drawn to the detail work on the old Luneville serving pieces...what a wonderful shade of pink!  These Elfin Impatiens are called "Lipstick". Tip:  Elfin Impatiens grow profusely!  They become HUGE, and they are quite hardy.  I give them extremely high marks.  Give them a try! 


Today, I used the Godinger, "Sutton Place" goblets.  They were an eBay purchase, less than $5.00 per stem at the time that I bought them.  I still see them offered in auctions; I don't see them at that price any longer.  The individual lead crystal salt and peppers were a wedding gift many years ago.  Guests always seem to appreciate easy access to the condiments.

The Caspari rattan chargers lend an organic texture that speaks of Spring.  Spliced between the charger and dinner plate, the vintage Damask napkins belonged to our dear Nana.  She blessed us with so many beautiful things.  I think that it's really important to be a good steward of our family treasures.  I'm a strong advocate for pulling them out of cabinets, drawers and closets and using them as often as possible.  The softly rounded handles of the Towle, "Antique Bead" stainless steel seemed a good match for the gently scalloped shape of the Copeland Spode, "Luneville" dinner plate.

We were out of town last week.  We had so much fun taking our grandsons, 6 and 5, to Disney World with their parents.  I was exhausted when we returned home.  It will be so nice to sit and have a restful meal and visit with dear friends.  I think that everything is ready...and if I've forgotten something, no one will know unless I tell them.  

There's the doorbell ringing...I wish that I could walk to the door and find you crossing the threshold...I'll keep hoping!
   








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 HERE 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."  It is available on iTunes or through her website.  I hope that you'll give her music a chance.  I know that I have zero objectivity where she is concerned, but I think that you'll fall in love with her music and her!   



Sunday, April 10, 2011

AWOL

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. 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.

Last week was the first time that I haven't posted a tablescape since I began blogging.  I missed you all!  I had a pretty good reason, though.  We took our grandsons and their parents for a week at Disney World.  We had a wonderful time, and I am completely exhausted.  I haven't walked that much in a long, long time.  I'll be back for this week's Tablescape Thursday.  See  you then!


Can you imagine the tablescapes that we could create here?  Sweet dreams, my bloggy friends!