Plum Perfect for Early Fall

I DO NOT like to jump the gun on seasons. I take each one as they come, savoring the best of it and slogging through the worst toward the light. But I do believe seasons are “sectional” with early, mid, and late portions. So before I start hauling out the pumpkins and corn stalks, here’s a little something-something for late summer/early fall.

And for those of you who, like me, like to closely study details on still photos…

Shades of plum and blue-violet are tempered with white, luscious peach, and citrus green. I’m not quite sure why I went with the blue & white chinoiserie. It just felt right.

Each place setting starts with a gold leaf glass charger topped with a purple Bormioli Rocco glass charger. I used gold-rimmed white china to temper the depth of the purple tones. Gold flatware compliments the stack.

Starched napkins in deep, moody eggplant are wrapped up with a shiny golden ring.

Of course, bowls of plums had to be included!

I SO loved this floral arrangement and hated to disassemble it!😖 The faux flowers came from many sources including Nell Hills and Charmed House Interiors in Kansas City, Petals & Potpourri in Blue Springs, McKeever’s grocery floral department and Cameron’s Home Furnishings in Lee’s Summit near where we live, and Hobby Lobby (those berries hanging off the side). Massive arrangements like this are moved to a side surface after guests have ooh’ed and ahh’ed over it before the meal is served.

This white-painted pheasant has been with me for a good while and looks great under the floral fronds.

This will be among the final pics of my beloved Louis XVI reproduction vitrine as I have sold it. It has been a faithful servant for more than 20 years. Here it plays host to a dessert setup with a Nell Hills basket backdrop.

A side chest is treated to an arrangement of coleus, hydrangea, and plums in a mini silver ice bucket.

With temperatures headed back into the upper 90s and near 100 over the next few days, it’s tough to get into the fall mood. This “fall lite” works for me!

Like shades of purple? Here are a few other posts on this site you may enjoy!💜

Summer’s Last Hurrah

Lawd, have mercy…where’s my funeral home fan??? I don’t know about you guys, but I’m about “summer’d” out!🥵 It has been hotter than a jalapeño‘s armpit with humid, icky conditions here in the Kansas City, MO area all summer…except for the times it was pouring near record buckets of rain. While I’m in no particular hurry for winter’s chill, I am ready for something different. So as the Labor Day weekend approaches, I’m anticipating and celebrating summer’s last hurrah.

Summer’s Last Hurrah – Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One

And if you prefer still shots to video…⬇️

Each place setting is grounded with a one-two punch of a red, white & blue striped placemat topped with an easy, reedy woven brown one.

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am with this year’s Dolly Parton line at Hobby Lobby! For a citified country-adjacent gal like me, it’s right on target! Dishes boasting deep red poppies with blue & white accents, these sweet floral napkins…Yes, please! The blue-rimmed chargers and flashy red pedestal bowls are also Hobby Lobby finds.

Poppy napkin rings from Bed Bath & Beyond many moons ago.

Ya ain’t really country unless ya like your Mason jar of tea sweetened with half a pound of sugar. Or at least that’s what my Kentucky born and bred great-Grandmother used to tell me. Hence the “country adjacent” description I’ve assigned myself as I defiantly stir in my Splenda.🤣🤣🤣

Somebody come get Dorothy and Toto out of the poppy field!

I can sit down with a whole pie and a quart of vanilla ice cream and just GO. TO. TOWN!!! (Again, as my great-Grandmother would say!)

All the usual country picnic fixins including peanut oil-fried chicken (seriously…is there any other way?), and the juxtaposition of heavenly biscuits and deviled eggs.

Now y’all KNOW I have to have my “adult beverage” of the Kentucky bourbon variety to help make suburban life bearable!🥃 I love it here in the heartland, but a “little nip” every now and then sure helps me love it even more! A napkin from the Dolly Parton line at Hobby Lobby pairs nicely with a placemat to line my bar cart.

Whatever you do this Labor Day weekend, please be safe! If you would like to see more ideas for picnics, check these out:

Orange Dreamsicle

Have you ever tried the grownup version of an orange Dreamsicle? The one with whipped cream vodka, orange juice, triple sec or Cointreau, and cream or half & half? To beat this ongoing heat to a pulp (See what I did there? Pulp? Get it?😉), I whipped one up…at breakfast. Don’t judge me. It contained 2 of the 5 food groups.😜

Here’s a fun luncheon or dinner tablescape where a grownup Dreamsicle might be more appropriately enjoyed! (Faux flowers used here, but real ones would kick it up a BIG ol’ notch for guests!)

I first used these fun open tulip salad plates in 2010 for a Mothers Day tablescape, “Tulips in the iHop Hour”, referring to my Mom’s penchant for eating so early on Sundays. I’d not used them since, so this is as good a time as any. I’ve set them with plain white dinner plates and juicy orange Bormioli Rocco “Inca” glass chargers. My Mom’s Towle “Calypso” flatware and recently acquired orange stemware from Home Goods add a nice finishing touch.

Red-orange and white (faux) ranunculus in a curvy white ceramic vase.

Bright orange (faux) tulips are prominently used across the table.

Brilliant orange (faux) poppies add color and texture.

What’s a meal without dessert?🍰

Reticulated dessert plates look almost like old-fashioned doilies.

The pièce de résistance…Dreamsicle cocktails by the pitcher! Here’s the Pinterest recipe I most often use: Dreamsicle Martini

Do you love the color orange as much as I do? Here are a few more posts featuring this energetic color!🧡

White Glove Service

If you’ve not seen the latest Julian Fellowes installment, “Downton Abbey: A New Era”, don’t worry…no spoilers here. I waited until it came out on Peacock this week to watch myself and would have been grievously disappointed if the surprises had been tarnished.

This is just my way of once again paying homage to the sublime series and subsequent movies that have been so entertaining as I binge-watched in the comfort of air conditioning throughout this blistering hot summer.

The Crawley family may have (often reluctantly) transitioned from the blithely unrestrained indulgences of the Edwardian era to the slightly less buttoned-up/pre-Stock Market Crash Roaring Twenties, but they still dine in a refined manner. I tried to capture the essence of that poised manner with gleaming silver chargers and flatware, fine white china, cut crystal stemware, and crisply starched hemstitch napkins.

This silver epergne is perfect for a lush centerpiece of fruit and flowers.

The vitrine holds all the service pieces including an inherited butter server. With an army of footmen no longer en vogue, who on earth will bring it all to the table?🤷🏽‍♀️

Obsessed? Maybe.🤔 Entertained? Absolutely!😀

If you’re into formal table settings, you might like these:

It’s Pizza Night!

I recently posted a decidedly austere, slightly more upscale Italian dinner setting for visiting friends, one of whom is actually from Italy. Born and raised. The same friends back in KC this week on their way home wanted a pizza party. To be specific, a Godfather’s Pizza pizza party!🤷🏽‍♀️🤷🏽‍♀️🤷🏽‍♀️ Wait. What?!?!?!? You’re from Italy and while in the States you prefer, of all things, Godfather’s Pizza?!?!? Whatever, dude.🤦🏽‍♀️

I’m no pizza snob (that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!😇🍕), but I would have thought with all the choices out there we might have done a little different. I love it, too (it takes me back to the 80s and all the fun!), but that just surprises me. Again…my friend is from Italy where pizza was born. Anyhoooooo…still pics in case you missed something in the little video.🙂

I drew inspiration for the table from a guest spot I did on “Better Kansas City” back in 2017 called “An Offer You Can’t Refuse” where, along with a TV trayscape, I even reenacted the whole horse’s head in the bed scene!

The general request from our guests was to make the setting akin to our American 4th of July celebration. Uh-huh!🤔 OK…but it’s too hot to do this outside. We’ll just use lots of bright color and add a truckload of flags. Cool?

I bought this iron tiered plate stand on clearance somewhere years ago. It came in handy for appetizer plates (thrift store find!) on the food & wine centerpiece. Herbs were the only “flowers” handy for this quickly assembled soirée.

This will sound quite gruesome, but I treasure these cheese service pieces because they were a gift from a friend who was terrorized over many hours and then murdered. This happened the year after she gave them to me. In her own home in a gated community by a burglar!!! Who does that?!?!? She was utterly defenseless, in a wheelchair…living in a gated community for the elderly. Who does that?!?!?🤬😭 (The coward was caught and prosecuted, but oddly only got 30 years for beating and stabbing a helpless, innocent woman!😡)

On a much lighter and less frightening note, I bought these cute wine covers with mustaches a few years ago. They add a playful little touch.

Limoncello has become a staple as an after-dinner sip around here. It’s really good when chilled to within an inch of its little life! Throw in whole or muddle a raspberry in there for a little extra somethin’-somethin’,

A deliciously dense lemon cheesecake (not made by me!) with fresh raspberries for dessert! One of my favorites!!!

My wrists and arthritic little fingers have had a workout the past couple of weeks with all the grating of fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano. This week I added freshly crushed dried red pepper to the misery. All totally worth it for the fun we all had!🍕🍕🍕

If you’d like to see other Italian-themed tablescapes on this site, check these out:

That’s it for now! Just remember: 🎶”When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!”🎶Ciao, bella!

Cena Italiana con Gli Amici

We recently hosted two lovely young couples for an authentic (as close as I could get it!) Italian meal. As one of our guests is a native Italian🇮🇹, I wanted the setting to reflect the unfussy style of their region of birth…with my own twist, of course!😉

White on white with wisps of green was the perfect palette to allow the food to look its best. I made copycat Garozzo’s Restaurant dipping oil (you Kansas City area folk know what’s up!😋) and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for each place setting.

Individual wine carafes at each place setting so each person could enjoy their favorite. And we drank A LOT of wine that night!🍷🍷🍷🍷😵‍💫

The faux olive branch centerpiece was a showstopper as guests arrived. It was later moved to a side surface and replaced with a massive platter of pasta for family-style self-service. I sure wish I would’ve had time to photograph that thing! I had meatballs the size of my fist on there!😜

I was tempted to buy plain white cups and saucers for after dinner espresso, but my Mom’s gold & white Dresden won out in the end. Turns out it was a hit as it precipitated deep conversation about world affairs and deceased parents.

I’m pretty sure I ate my weight in bread that night!🥖🥖🥖 Fresh herbs from my own deck garden (and oregano pilfered from my neighbor, Barbara!😇) were used for everything I cooked.

This was the starter that was placed on the table once the centerpiece was moved. Bowls of nuts went alongside the olives already on the table.

If you’d like to see a couple of other posts on this blog with an Italian theme, check these out:

I’m so glad you stopped by! Please drop me a “Ciao!” below if you’d like! And I’d be pleased as pink punch if you would follow me on Instagram! Have a great week!!!!

This post dedication the memory of actor James Caan who passed away last week.

4th of July Picnic

I’ve made many virtual friends since I began blogging WAAAAAY back in 2009, but I’ve had the honor of meeting only a scant few in person. This week’s tablescape is at the suggestion of the incredibly talented, funny, and gracious Pattie Tierney, author of the Olla-Podrida blog, who I have visited twice! Miss Pattie recently suggested we have a little fun with picnic baskets we unearthed. (Hers from her storage, mine – a super bargain at just $12.50 – from a recent estate sale.) Pattie and I have made a blood🩸 oath to use our baskets quarterly over the next year to see where our imagination leads us. OK, maybe not a blood oath, but you get my meaning!😄 Won’t you please create a reminder to yourself to check out Pattie’s entry which will be posted at Olla-Podrida on July 4?!

I hope you enjoy the little video above⬆. And here are a few detail pics of my fun hunt-style picnic basket all dressed up for the 4th of July!⬇

Under the trees of this modest grove in our backyard is the perfect place for a summer picnic!

Vintage metal spatterware plates remind me of my paternal grandparents’ farm in Sabetha, KS where I spent a lot of time as a kid.

This giant basket can easily hold a feast for 6 with all the accouterments! Here I have patriotic napkins folded the same way we fold our flags.

Lots of space to hold a double layer of food containers!

The holiday cupcake sleeves are from Home Goods, and the little stand from the bargain bin at the front of every Target store🎯. The silver star decor, remnants from my granddaughter’s graduation party, fit right in like sparklers!

Aside from the main food table is this shorter “grazing” table. It’s lower to the ground so that one needn’t stand if resting on a blanket beside it. The larger buffet table is dressed in a stretch covering from LinenTablecloth.com, and the huge star is from Old Time Pottery. (I’m not compensated for mentioning these places. Just lettin’ y’know where to look!)

Star-spangled runner from Hobby Lobby on red & white checkered cloth.

A loaf of bread to accompany the fruit, cheese, and wine is neatly tucked and tied with twine in a napkin.

More Old Time Pottery stars.

Nap time? Uhhhh…yes, please!!!😴

I hope your 4th of July celebration is one of joy and reflection upon what the holiday signifies at its core. In this country, we pledge to stand “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for ALL.”🗽⚖️🇱🇷

I have a few 4th of July tablescapes on this blog that may interest you!

If you are interested in general picnic tablescapes:

Have a happy and safe 4th! And don’t forget to visit Pattie’s blog on the 4th. You will not be disappointed!!!!!!!!🇱🇷

Monkeying Around With Chinoiserie

If it’s as hot where you are as it is here in the Kansas City, MO area, please know I empathize. Gee WHIZ, it’s scorching!!!!!🥵 I can’t entertain the notion of setting up outdoors as even the mornings are intolerably muggy. This is not what June is supposed to feel like! So I’ve been “monkeying around” in the dining room with blue and white with a dash of orange.

The inspiration for this tablescape came from a pair of lumbar pillows I bought last year from Sew Gracious. (I’m not compensated in any way for mentioning this or any other site. I just love to share!) So perfect for our dining room!!!

I started each place setting with an orange glass Bormioli Rocco charger and Kate Spade for Lenox “Rutherford Circle – Navy” plates and bowls. The Ralph Lauren “Mandarin” salad plate brings visual texture to the setting.

I bought these monkey napkin rings years ago at Z Gallerie. He looks as if he’s holding on to that napkin for dear life!😆

Nell Hill’s. I mean…!!! I LOVE that place! The planters I happed upon while one of the showroom designers was setting a table there are perfect! (Yes, I took them right off her assembly cart…with her kind permission, of course!) I found the pots of spiky greenery there at Nell Hill’s on another shopping trip and added faux agapanthus.

Monkeys and gold-tone planters from The Painted Sofa in Kansas City, Missouri’s West Bottoms shopping district. (Visited there over this past weekend. They are TEEMING with product, y’all!) The blue and white biscuit jars are from Nell Hill’s.

On the vitrine sits a Nell Hill’s blue and white foot tub filled with juicy oranges. The tub is surrounded by a trio of finial jars, a miniature vase, and a couple of ginger jars, also from Nell Hill’s.

If you’re as much a lover of blue and white or chinoiserie as I am and would like to see more of it on this blog, check out the posts below. And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram!

Have a fabulous week!

Celebrating the Return of “Downton Abbey” 2022 with Quotes from the Dowager Countess

Celebrating the Return of “Downton Abbey” 2022 with Quotes from the Dowager Countess

OK…so you got me! Busted! I finally gave into the whole “Downton Abbey” craze after resisting for more than 10 bloody years. (Oops! I sound like a commoner!)

“Vulgarity is no substitute for wit.”

I started watching and simply could not stop!!!!!! I have now watched the entire series 3 times over, the 2019 movie twice, and am gearing up to see “Downton Abbey: A New Era” at our local theater. Satisfied?

So to celebrate the new movie, the glory of all things “Downton Abbey”, the beauty of formal table settings, and most particularly the wry humor and steadfast wisdom of the Dowager Countess, Lady Violet Crawley (quotes in her signature violet color), I’ve created a couple of tablescapes that I think capture a bit of the splendor. This is the first of two…or many…not by any means historically accurate!😉

I read somewhere that a white tablecloth was used in the series only to protect the decades-old table at Highclere Castle where “Downton Abbey” was filmed. (If I read it on the internet, then it must be true!😉) Hmmmmm…🤔 So naked formal table it is for this entry!

I don’t know, nor did I note in the series or the first movie, that gold was used very much decoratively in the 1920s. (Silver – or silver plate, nickel, or zinc for the less monied – had prominently established its place.) I’ve blatantly strayed from that with this gold leaf charger, the flatware, and gold-rimmed Royal Scotland china.

“Nothing succeeds like excess.”

Meals were always served in courses at Downton, and a cream soup bowl and saucer like these from Nell Hills in Kansas City, MO may have been a part of that.

I took notice of the elaborately folded dinner napkins and did my best to replicate a Bishop’s Hat fold. I failed miserably and settled on this one instead. As noted in an article in Victoriana Magazine, the famous Delmonico’s restaurant in New York always employed a napkin fold to hold the dinner roll. Whether or not the Dowager Countess would approve of such a change is up for debate…or not.😒

First electricity, now telephones. Sometimes I feel as if I were living in an H.G. Wells novel.”

My beloved Nell Hills (Kansas City, MO) beverage stem with Cristal d’Arques “Asheville Gold” champagne flute.

While you’ll never, ever, ever see the likes of these little dudes (they rather look like footmen, don’t they?) on a formal dining table at Downton, I felt them right at home 100 years later. I like them, so they stay…unless the Dowager Countess says otherwise, of course! (Source: The Painted Sofa, Kansas City, MO)

Don’t be defeatist, dear. It is very middle class.”

The Dowager Countess referred to Lady Grantham’s floral arrangements as being better suited for “a first Communion in Southern Italy.” Geez…that was harsh! 😒 I don’t even wanna know what she’d say about this monstrosity in heavy lead crystal! (It would, of course, be removed for real dining.)

“Why does every day involve a fight with an American?”

While multi-arm candelabra were more the fashion of the time, I don’t think anyone (except perhaps the Dowager, of course!) would sniff at these leggy gold candlesticks.

“Edith, you are a lady, not Toad of Toad Hall.”

Although one would never catch the Dowager in such “hep” fashion as this, it certainly might be found in the closet of the very fashionable Lady Mary or Lady Edith. It’s certainly found in mine!

If you like this formal tablescape and would like to see others on this site:

National Donut Day

Oh, yeah! Now we’re talkin’!!! DONUTS, baby!!!🍩🍩🍩 I could eat nearly a dozen by myself! If you love donuts like I do, Friday, June 3, 2022, is National Donut Day. It’s like mid-year Christmas!!!!!!!! June 3 also happens to be National Egg Day🥚, but really…who cares?😐 Glazed, powdered, chocolate, old-fashioned, crullers, cake, jelly-filled, long john…I don’t care! Just gimme my donuts (and my elastic-waist pants!)!!!🍩🍩🍩

If a Bloody Mary or mimosa isn’t in your brunch plans, you may as well go back to bed!



Bordallo Pinheiro green cabbage plates and fruit bowls play a prominent part at each place setting. Notice the birds on the runner that complements the napkin rings.

More Bordallo Pinheiro in the form of sauce bowls nestled between the tall Z Gallerie mosaic shell vase and the smaller green glass arrangements.

Sausage links, eggs, fruit…yeah, whatever! It’s all about the DONUTS, man!!!!!!!!!!

Of course, mimosas are always nice for brunch, too!

Doesn’t matter where you go (because there are literally hundreds of “the best”)…just get yourself to a donut shop on Friday, June 3! Krispy Kreme (my personal favorite) is offering a free donut and/or a $1 original glazed dozen with the purchase of a dozen or 16-count minis. Dunkin is offering a free donut with beverage purchase. Better yet, dial up Pinterest, pull out ye olde Fry Daddy, and whip some up in your own kitchen!🍩🍩🍩

Other breakfast/brunch posts on this site include: