Peonies & Pearls

Living in the frigid Midwestern portion of the U.S., I tend to forget that not everyone spends Valentine’s Day swathed head-to-toe in wool. There are my Southern friends (although this year may not be the warmest for them), my West coast friends (like my old high school buddy, Gisele, who constantly taunts me on Facebook about the great weather they’re enjoying!), and my blogger buddies on different continents like Suzy Q chillin’ at the beach house in Western Australia. Those folks are livin’ the good life: no ice to chip off the windshield, no snow to plow, no “wind chill index” in the forecast, no heating bill that rivals the National Debt.

So…it is to you my toasty February friends that I dedicate this ode to Valentine’s Day in the warmth of the sun. I had this little number in my cache of posts and thought it perfectly indicative of the kind of Valentine’s Day table one could create should they be so lucky as to live in milder climes. (It could be easily set up indoors, too!)
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I think I may have have been cotton candy or Dubble Bubble in a former life. Not because I’m sweet (ha! Lord knows that’s not it!), but because I just love pink. When I photographed this table last summer, I remember feeling all girly and giggly and size 6. Yes, ladies, pink can actually DO that for you! 🙂

I started with a sticky sweet pink full-length cotton tablecloth. Gold-leafed glass chargers from my sister are topped with gold-rimmed white dishes from Pier 1.

Pretty pink poly-cotton napkins from Bed Bath & Beyond are gathered with faux pearl napkin rings from Old Time Pottery. The trick here was to give the napkin ring a more substantial look by doubling them.

Simple goldtone flatware and, of course, a little something-something from Godiva packaged in gold and neatly tied up with ribbons and seed pearls.

Cristal d’Arques “Longchamps” stemware is reasonably priced as far as crystal goes, and it’s multifaceted body catches the rays of the sun just right.


I used faux peonies here, but you can certainly imagine a fresh armful of the fluffy pink mop heads as your centerpiece! The design on the mammoth crystal barrel harmonizes perfectly with the stemware. Lofty gold candlesticks with pink candles surround the crystal.

Swans are a long-standing symbol of love and fidelity due to their perennial and monogamous relationships. These lovely Limoges salt cellars both literally and figuratively bring spice to the table.

Remove a couple of place settings, and this becomes a romantic table for two. This Pepto pink tablescape would also work very well for a special birthday, an upscale baby shower, a wedding celebration, a sweet Mother’s Day dinner, or in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I’ll be joining Susan again for Tablescape Thursday. I hope you’ll stop in to see the romantic tables other tablescapers from all around the world have to offer!

Other tablescapes on this site suitable for Valentine’s Day:
Love’s Arrow
Showered in Pink
Roses In October
“Days of Wine & Roses”
Chocolate Traditional

Another tablescape using peonies:
Peaceful Peonies

Love’s Arrow

I’m not sure why, but I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong…I’m all for romance, and smoochin’, and huggin’, and all that stuff. I just don’t get very excited about the day set aside to celebrate it. Maybe because every day is Valentine’s Day around our house! 🙂 That being said, I still think it’s important to gussy up a table for your loved one if you plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day at home, so here’s a “cute, cozy, easy to put together, budget-friendly table for two” as requested by blog reader Estella.
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IMG_2983WMThe color that always gets hearts beating is red♥♥♥! I started this table off with a full-length red linen topped by a quilted damask square.

Setting up by the fireplace seems to be both romantic and practical. On the romantic side, it symbolizes the love you have burning in your hearts for one another. Plus, everybody looks better in the glow of amber light! On the practical side, February is still chilly in many areas, so your tootsies will stay nice and warm. Furthermore, if your sweetheart gifts you with a toaster, or a lamp, or something equally disturbing that may as well have “Just Kick Me In the Crotch and Leave Me Down By the River to Die” written on it, you don’t have to get up to get rid of it…just toss it right into the fire! 😉 If he gives you something really crazy like a coupon to a weight loss center or Botox clinic, feel free to toss him in, too! Swish! Three points!

This place setting starts with a shiny silver charger topped with an Easterling “Majestic” dinner plate. A silver heart salad plate finishes off the stack, accompanied by Mikasa’s “Jamestown Platinum” stemware and International Silver “Royal Danish” flatware.

A white napkin is folded accordian-style and slipped into a silver napkin ring. I tucked old-fashioned pearl- and rhinestone-studded stick pins on either side of the napkin ring for a little added bling. The fully-blown red rose also has a little bling to make it stand out more. (Remember our discussion about the stupid gifts? Stick pins….I’m just sayin’! ;-))

More full-blown red roses are tucked into a bath of sparkly acrylic “ice” and water for the simple centerpiece that takes less than 10 minutes to assemble. The “ice” can be purchased at just about any arts & crafts store like Hobby Lobby or Michaels. (Click HERE to see another floral arrangement using acrylic “ice.”) A more budget-friendly flower choice (especially during February when the price of roses is sky-high!) that provides comparable impact would be fluffy red carnations.

A smattering of mercury glass votive holders add ambient light and give the “ice” in the centerpiece a little extra shimmer. If the fireplace is hot enough for you without the votives, consider using submersible lights in the “ice” instead. Submersible lights can be also purchased at an arts & crafts store or through your florist.

All kidding aside, I hope this helps in your planning, Estella. I’ll be back next week with another Valentine’s Day tablescape that has a few more bells & whistles. Meanwhile, I hope you will join me again this Thursday at Susan’s Tablescape Thursday. I’m sure there will be lots of Valentine tables on display from talented bloggers around the world!

Other tablescapes on this site that would work well for Valentine’s Day:
Should Have Put a Ring On It

Chocolate Traditional
White Hot
Showered In Pink
Little Black Dress
Peonies & Pearls
Days of Wine & Roses

Coming Up Roses” 
Au Revoir
Platinum & Pink

Hoarding: Buried In Dishes & Decor

Hi! My name is Alycia, and I’m a dishaholic.
An organized one, but a dishaholic just the same.
(Disclaimer: These photos were taken while Christmas decorating when everything was in relative disarray. I promise you…my OCD behavior includes neatness!)

www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.comI’m just going to come out with it: I LIKE STUFF!!!!!! I like dishes and stemware and flatware and linens and all the accessories that can dress up a table, and I like to be able to shop my own home for it when I need it. I’m not ashamed of it…although perhaps I should be. 😉

When I owned my fine rentals business there was no shortage of available space to store all my pretty things. Back then I didn’t have dishes, but there was PLENTY of other “stuff.” In addition to basement and attic storage in my shop, I had warehouse space the size of 5 single-car garages. Any overflow was kept at our home.

Well, now I am retired. I sold a lot of the rentals in a huge, frenzied sale. Of course, I kept a serious stash for myself, and that stash has to be kept somewhere! Several readers, including Paula B., Marchita S., and Jackie H., recently asked where on earth I keep it all, so I dedicate this very photo-intensive post to them! 🙂

www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.comReady to see where I keep it all? Hold on to your hats…it’s going to be like walking through a Coney Island carnival fun house! Let’s start on the main floor of the house…

www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.comOK…not too bad. This is a logical place for dishes: the china cabinet in the dining room. The 3 little drawers on the bottom contain place card holders. But I have 83 styles/patterns of dishes…where are the rest?

www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.comThen there are the 8 drawers of the dining room buffet loaded with flatware, serving utensils, placemats and specialty napkins. Still not too bad. Let’s move into the foyer.

www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.comThe drawers of this apothecary chest in the foyer hold about half of my 76 sets of napkin rings (that help jazz up 90 different styles of napkins!). Let’s step over into the library….

Our reproduction Louis XVI vitrine houses crystal, silver and about half of the 24 sets of flatware in my collection. Moving on to the family room area….

The bar in the family room displays a few stemware sets and stores several pitchers down below. I have 84 different sets/styles of glasses and stemware, although I tend to use 5 or 6 favorites over and over.

Four 2-shelf cabinets under the family room bookcases store most of my 41 sets of chargers. And we’re walking, we’re walking…….

www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.comSeveral cupboards in the kitchen serve as storage for dishes and stemware as well as a modest collection of salt & pepper shakers. There are only 2 shelves dedicated to our “everyday” dishes and drinking vessels. How much lip do you think I get from my husband for THAT? 😉

What is supposed to be a broom closet right off the kitchen stores another round of china as well as teapots and serving dishes. I’m bored with this floor. Let’s move down to the lower level.

There’s just no way to photograph the entire storage area in a single photo, so Sheri did the best she could. We still didn’t get a photo of the 40+ Rubbermaid tubs stacked ceiling high on the east wall in this room.

www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.comMy husband and I put in pegboards that work pretty well for a lot of things. More wreaths are stored on hooks in the sump pump room.

www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.comSmaller see-through storage containers hold little stuff that can get away from me in a hurry if I’m not careful.

Did I mention that I have a LOT of candles (LED and natural wax)…and ribbon??? Most of the ribbon hangs here, but there is additional curling ribbon in a Rubbermaid box that couldn’t fit on the wall.

I love these stackable drawers! I have several of these in the storage room filled with about half of the 45 different kinds of votive holders I have collected over the years. I usually buy votive holders in quantities of at least 12 per, but I have basic ones that come in quantities of 50-75+. I’m getting claustrophobic! Let’s get out of this room and move into the downstairs living space.

This case is filled with all my dishes and stemware with Mexican flair.

The downstairs bar area has 9 cabinets and multiple drawers, all filled with dishes (mostly melamine), stemware, casual flatware, and serving bowls & platters.

Two closets on the lower level, including the sump pump closet, store Rubbermaid boxes of decorative supplies. OK….let’s make that long trek up to the top floor!

Another apothecary chest in the hallway on the top level of the house stores more napkin rings and place card holders. I corral the napkin rings in Ziploc bags to keep them from getting all jumbled.

I can’t even begin to show all the storage nooks in my office/studio, but here are a couple…

www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.comA corner curio holds a stash of some of my larger pieces of crystal, while the adjacent closet has 5 multi-drawer cabinets filled with invitation and menu-making supplies and sewing supplies that are rarely used due to my complete lack of hand/eye coordination. 🙂

Several otherwise unused closets in the house, like this one in the guest bedroom, are great for storage. I currently have about 150 linens, many of which are tagged, bagged, and hung in this closet according to color. The shelves and floor are used to store various tabletop accessories, an actual tabletop, and boxed stemware.

Another case filled with dishes.

And, of course, the obligatory underbed storage (under every bed!) for more linens, napkins and 56 sets of placemats.

www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.comA bank of cupboards in an adjacent room holds yet more stemware and dishes. Let’s step across the hallway…

Wait! I’ve changed my mind!!! Are you sure you want to come in here??? I don’t know…it’s pretty crazy!!! Well, OK…here we go! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!!

This is where I do floral arranging with faux flowers for some of my posts when my money’s so funny it has its own sitcom. 😉 I couldn’t get a shot of the area where I arrange the flowers, but the faux florals are mostly stored in here along with lots of silver candelabra and floral vessels like the one Linda of A Toile Tale won back in October. Oh…did I mention I’ll be giving another one of those away soon? Stay tuned!

The clothes closet in the master suite is a great place for storing stuff including stackable drawers of cloth napkins. My husband reinforced the brackets for the overhead storage on both sides to prevent an avalanche.

The pass-through area between the bedroom and my dressing room has lots of storage opportunities with these great built-ins! (My poor husband!)

Now let’s enter another crudely built little storage closet we had built into empty attic space a few years ago. The sign says it all!

www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.comThis room stores many of the things I would have a COW over if they were to get broken. I know it looks a little messy in this photo (I was in the midst of Christmas decorating, remember!), but believe me…it is incredibly well-organized!!! Most boxes are stored two deep and as high as the pitched ceiling will allow.

And just how, you are asking yourself, does this weird woman keep up with all of this? The answer is quite simple: FlipAlbum!!! (And the fact that I have an uncanny ability to remember exactly where I store things!)

 FlipAlbum is a customizable computer catalog that looks and works just like a real book! I use the Vista Pro edition (currently selling online for $159.95), but there is a free version, as well. It took me awhile to initially set it up with everything I had, but now I easily maintain it by simply making entries each time I return from shopping! I’m up to 2269 pages…and counting!!!

Everything is organized by both automatically generated Index and Contents sections (where you can just click on the line to go directly to a page!)…

…as well as a convenient thumbnail overview section! (The thumbnail section is generated automatically with each page you create, and you can flip directly to a page just by clicking on a thumbnail!)

You can create chapters! (I currently have 39 color-coded chapters ranging from dishes to floral vessels to baskets and beyond!)

You can create pages within the chapters with as many or as few photos as you like! I photograph things as I bring them home and add a brief description along with the quantity in stock as well as, when necessary, dimensions.

So….if your eyeballs haven’t popped completely out of your head by now, that’s my pitiful little story! What’s yours?

 Don’t forget to join the arguably much more sane tablescapers and me for this week’s Tablescape Thursday!

Peaceful Peonies

Chinese New Year is January 23, 2012. I love the colorful pageantry associated with this holiday! Last year I created a traditional Chinese New Year tablescape using lots of red and gold with black accents. (Click HERE and scroll down to “Year of the Rabbit” to see last year’s post.) This year, now tired of all the red used for Christmas decorating, I went rogue with a fiery hot pink.
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One of the great things about this particular tablescape design is that the Asian influence is somewhat understated, thus rendering it suitable for various contemporary-styled occasions such as rehearsal dinners or ladies luncheons (sans the candles, of course). The two-tone linen combo of sizzling hot pink over the more neutral black immediately draws the eye in.

To demonstrate how the same dishes can create an entirely different atmosphere depending on the accessories, compare this setting to that of “Let Them Eat Cake” from a post last year. (Click HERE and scroll down to “Let Them Eat Cake“.) A gold leafed glass charger and gold-rimmed white china from Pier 1 are topped with a an F. Winkel & Co. “Jacobean” salad plate. The vivid coloring and busy pattern of the chinoiserie salad plate are just the right combination to accent the plainer underplates and bring in the black, gold, hot pink and white.

I had my eye on these Buddhas from the moment they hit the store shelves at Z Gallerie last year. I must have chewed half a pound of fingernails waiting for them to go on clearance, hoping there would be enough left over. Jackpot! Got all I needed at 75% off!!! Here they hold a gold mercury glass votive.

My “old reliable” goldtone flatware works well here with its subtle pattern.

I opted for crystal stemware with gold rims, but opaque black stemware like Mikasa’s “Elegance-Black” would work well, too.

I felt the need to break up that searing hot pink surface a bit more. I achieved this by folding the black poly-cotton napkins from Bed Bath & Beyond into a long chevron and placing them beneath each setting, allowing them to extend downward over the pink linen.

I almost always use either white or ivory candles, but I’m getting bolder in my old age! 😉 Long black tapers are set into a trio of 20″H goldtone candlesticks to add height and color down the table’s center.

Black powder-coated ginger jars hold a mix of pink peonies, white alstroemeria, and star blossoms. (Florals used here for demonstrative purposes are faux, but I encourage the use of natural flowers for actual entertaining. If, however, all natural flowers are out of your budgetary reach, try mixing realistic fauxs with fresh. The key there is realistic fauxs that blend well!)

Lined up on each side of the centerpiece are four gold mercury glass votives to add ambient light at the lowest level.

The notably restrained buffet decor is a giant black ginger jar flanked by a pair of the same F. Winkel & Co. plates as used on the table. Florals from the table are extended by simply plopping 3 peonies into a shallow black bowl.

2012 is the Year of the Dragon, so printed menus with the Chinese symbols for dragon – 龙年 – or a dragon watermark, or menus in the shape of a dragon would be another element to make this table special. Specialty stores may carry oversized ceramic dragons which would be a great addition, too! (Or go check out Grandma’s attic for them. These dragons, as well as panthers for some odd reason, were all the rage in contemporary 1960s homes.) A nice substitute for the peonies would be deep pink carnations, orchids or, depending on availability, pink plum blossom branches which symbolize luck. If your budget allows for it, rented bamboo chiavari chairs in black would be the crowning touch!

More tablescapes using hot pink on this site:
Daisy Crazy
Hello, Dahlia
Let Them Eat Cake
Hollywood Fright Night

Another tablescape using peonies:
Peonies & Pearls

Thank you for stopping in! I hope you’ll join me again this week at Susan’s place for Tablescape Thursday! You can also catch me at!

Winter Cardinal

Christmas is over and the new year is well underway, but I’m still diggin’ the spirit-lifting spurts of bright red around the house. Even though snow has mercifully dodged us thus far, it is January so the trees are bare and the feel of winter definitely abounds.

I was sick (yes, again!) last week and spent a lot of time staring out the window planning my escape. I saw the most beautiful cardinal perched on a low-hanging branch for what seemed like an eternity and a fleeting moment all in one. She was a striking creature in her shockingly red coat and heavy-handed eyeliner. She brightened an otherwise dreary winter’s day with her brilliant color and gave me inspiration for a winter tablescape.
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IMG_4055WMI bought these 222 Fifth “Winter Cardinal” dinner plates on clearance at TJ Maxx awhile back. The same thought that struck me while looking out the window is what attracted me to these plates. The tiny speck of red, while miniscule by comparison, is the star of the flat white plate with its silvery, sinewy, naked trees. (Click HERE to see another red, white & silver winter tablescape.) To add a little drama, I went with a double dose of contemporary square chargers in silver and red from World Market. Turning the top charger at a slight angle allows the red on bottom to just barely peek out…kind of like the cardinal in the tree. (Click HERE or HERE & scroll down to “Year of the Rabbit” to see other tablescapes using doubled square chargers.)

IMG_4040WMThe contemporary lines of J.A. Henckels “Bellaserra” stainless works well with the setting.

IMG_3983WMThe slender tube-like fold of a red cotton napkin is secured with a silver napkin ring.

Each place setting is punctuated with a square glass votive filled with waterlogged cranberries and topped with a fragrant white carnation. (For more tablescape ideas using cranberries, click HERE or HERE.)


Another shot of red revs up the stark white linen via the TJ Maxx table runner. I double-folded the center part back to lend more of a 3-D look with just the decorated ends exposed. The barren silver trees on the runner are a nice companion to those on the plates, and it could just as easily find its way into a Christmas tablescape.

I love the look of pavéd carnations! This simple arrangement of easy-on-the-budget white carnations is anchored by acrylic “ice” chips for a wintry look and topped with cranberries for color. My husband said the square shape makes it look like a layer cake with whipped cream, which would make it perfect for a birthday party, shower, or anniversary! He’s right, but I think he just wanted cake! 🙂 (Click HERE to see another post using acrylic “ice.”)


IMG_4045WMThe buffet behind the dining table gets an austere, yet somewhat theatrical treatment. A square glass floral container filled with more acrylic “ice” chips holds dramatically arched branches coated in silver paint. Peering from within is a lone cardinal. Another glass container is filled with fresh cranberries for the requisite shot of color. Votive candles dance the length of the buffet.

Champagne anyone?

I am thrilled to join my fellow tablescapers as we start this new year together at Susan’s Tablescape Thursday. Come along this Thursday, won’t you?