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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorable Memorial Day Birthday Barbecue

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.
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Sweet Mister shares his Memorial Day birthday with our wonderful son and with our loyal Yorkshire Terrorist.  WS couldn't be here, but I understand that my daughter-in-love threw him a neat party.  I ask SM if he would like to have a few friends over to celebrate his birthday and the holiday at our house.  When he handed me the list of friends that he had invited, it was comprised of more than 50 guests....a few friends...well, you'd have to know him.  He wanted to have barbecue catered, which worked great for me.  I determined that I would set up the majority of tables on our back porch with a couple of additional tables inside.  It was supposed to be a windy and hot day, but the sweet Lord blessed us with just enough wind to provide a lovely, comfortable afternoon and evening for our festivities.

Lots of men on the guest list equals Lots. Of. Meat.  Smoked turkey and brisket were served on our old Dansk teak platters. In our neck of the woods, barbecue is always served with plain sliced bread.  I've presented the bread in an antique dough bowl.  The pair of patriotic Uncle Sam's are actually Santa Claus dolls that I've had for maybe 30 years.  The tureen and underplate in the center of the table are Burleigh Ware, "Calico."  I bought them during the last hour of an estate sale for $35.00 for both.  Woohoo!  Instead of flowers, I filled two blue crockery bowls with red apples...simple centerpiece solution.

All the usual suspects that you would always expect to see at a barbecue...The coleslaw and a green salad are served in more old, huge Dansk teak salad bowls.  The baked beans are found in a large Heller serving bowl.  Do any of you have Heller dishes?  I have tons of them from a former lake house.  They are a heavy melamine type material.  The potato salad is presented in a generously sized Pampered Chef crockery bowl.

Just for the birthday boy, a double chocolate fudge cake and a coconut cake were embellished with fresh raspberries.  Other desserts included German Chocolate brownies, lemon squares, and peach cobbler.  You won't see me do it very often, but for today, I decided that disposable clear plastic plates for dessert were the perfect choice.  I liked that the red and white gingham checked tablecloth, that I made many years ago, added a touch of holiday flair to the tablescape.

Sweet Mister wanted me to use unbreakable dinnerware.  I selected the Pottery Barn Outdoor Collection Enamelware,  dinner plates.  The flatware forks are L'Argent "Sophia."  Because we were serving barbecue, I provided paper napkins for our guests...another something that you will rarely see me do.  For barbecue, I always try to have at least three napkins per guest.



Five tables awaited our guests on the back porch.  Each was draped in a white or light blue tablecloth...
...and anchored with the blue and white jardiniers in which I plant geraniums each summer.  The pots are flanked by a pair of "frog jars" filled with sunflowers, hypericum berries, and assorted fresh flowers from Homeland Grocery Store.  I bought several inexpensive bouquets and deconstructed them for my floral decoration.

An easy-going touch...just right for a man's birthday party.

The Caspari rattan chargers also added an organic texture that sings of summer and barbecue.

I set two tables inside the house.  In the living room, I used the blue and white stripe tablecloth that I made using Sunbrella  fabric...

And in the breakfast room, I used a blue and white gingham tablecloth that I also made...

Both of the indoor tables were set with dark brown rattan chargers from WalMart.

Our Memorial Day was definitely memorable!  Sweet Mister gathered all of our guests to pray for our soldiers, living and departed, before we began our meal.  It was not lost on me that thousands upon thousands of our young men and women sacrificed their own comfort and safety yesterday to insure us a safe environment in which we could spend our afternoon and evening celebrating my love's birthday. I am humbled and grateful for their courage and bravery.





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!   

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Tables of Florence


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.


May has been a wild and marvelous month.  Sweet Mister whisked me away to Italy for a magical journey to Florence, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, and Rome.  It was a dream trip from beginning to end.  I did think of my wonderful blog friends, and I made an effort to find tablescapes in each city to share with you.  In addition to a few of my favorite shots captured as we explored each day, I want to treat you to a peak at some of the Tables of Florence, Italy.

Probably dating from Roman times, Ponte Vecchio, "The Old Bridge", the oldest of Florence's six bridges, is one of the city's best known images.

Just one of the local churches that we happened to enter...Santa Maria del Carmine. Does the ceiling of your church look like this?  Ours doesn't.

 A small outdoor cafe for a glass of Italian vino...tranquil...charming...perfect for a restful break after miles of walking.  We averaged 7 - 8 miles each day.  Even with the amazing food, I lost 2 1/2 pounds on our trip!  Woohoo!

Trattoria del Carmine, was recommended by a friend who used to live in Florence.  We thoroughly enjoyed our meal.

The evening was cooling quickly, so we opted for an inside table...good choice.  

An opening course of prosciutto ...I said that I was going to share with the table...but I ate every delicious bite!  Grilled shrimp was the main course...best I've ever tasted.

Loggia dei Lanzi, or Loggia della Signoria, adjoins the Uffizi Gallery.

Galleria dell'Accademia, Firenze

Palazzo Pitti
Another day of visiting amazing historical places...



with stops in between for lunch...


...and dinner at Camillo's.

 One thing I realized while traveling through Italy...Europeans don't drive those little cars to save on gasoline consumption.  They drive those little bitty cars because nothing else will fit down those centuries old...incredibly narrow streets!  They would have to drive those tiny cars if gasoline was still
$ .25 per gallon.  Most of the streets are one way because they'll only accommodate one lane of even these miniature cars.  It's nuts!  There are a gazillion mortorcycles.  The guides refer to the cyclists as 'mosquitos' and dislike them intensely.

Around almost any corner you can find a charming outdoor cafe...


...with amazing vistas of Florence.

Our last night in Florence, we dined al fresco at Trattoria Pallottino, a delightful restaurant...


...that just happened to be located right next door...





...to the best gelati shop in Florence, Il Gelato Vivoli.  Oh my...so delicious!  A perfect end to a perfect day...tomorrow we head for Sorrento and the Amalfi coast.

I hope that you have a trip to Italy in your future.  Thanks for letting me share a few moments of our amazing adventure.







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!   


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Red, White, and Blue Luncheon


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'm posting a reprise of a blog entry that I published last summer.  I was quite new to blogworld at that point, so I think that not too many of you will have seen this.  Red, white, and blue seems to weave its way throughout my summer.  My Sweet Mister and my precious son were both born on Memorial Day; Dickens, my Yorkshire Terrorist , was also born on the same day.  We all celebrate with this most patriotic of color combinations for Independence Day, and it always seems a natural choice for picnics and barbecues.  So for Seasonal Sundays, hosted by The Tablescaper, I want to celebrate Red, White, and Blue....so closely associated with Summer in my household.  Please, click HERE to visit other wonderful blogs participating in this marvelous meme.  Thank you Tablescaper for being our hostess!



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.




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!