All-American Seafood Boil

As hot as it is here in the Kansas City, MO (USA) area I could probably just sit a pot of cold water on the deck and drop the lobsters in to boil after about 5 minutes. It is CRAZY hot here with no relief in sight!!! For those readers like Suzy Q of At the Farmhouse and Carolyn of Desire Empire in Australia who are going into winter right now…please come get me!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I had a serious lapse in good judgment yesterday morning and got out on the deck to set up this 4th of July tablescape that will NOT come back for “real life” next week if this heat keeps up. I’ll spend the 4th eating red, white & blue popsicles while sitting on the AC vent! (It’s getting lonely in the Costco cooler! :-))
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A full-length white cotton tablecloth from LinenTablecloth.com masks the ordinary folding table. We don’t subscribe to the newspaper, so instead of the usual seafood boil newspaper, the tablecloth is topped with a piece of red & white striped vinyl. The vinyl started out with a million folds in it, but 6 minutes in the dryer on the delicate cycle and a little smoothing knocked ’em right out. Using a decorative topper instead of newspaper makes it a little more upscale, and the stripes remind me of those that grace the U.S. flag. It cost just $5 at Home Goods, so I won’t be too upset if it gets damaged. The LinenTablecloth.com linens launder very easily, so no worries there.

Medium-tone rattan chargers from Tuesday Morning bring a natural element to the table. Simple white Corelle dinner plates are topped with fun M Studios salad plates with a bright red lobster motif from TJ Maxx. Nothing says “seaside” like lobster dishes! 🙂

For an Independence Day table, what other flatware are ya gonna use besides a design called “Patriot”? 😉 The dinner & salad forks are accompanied by a lobster pick from World Market to extract every last succulent morsel.

The cotton napkins – which are actually bandannas from Hobby Lobby – are folded in the same manner as a U.S. flag and placed on the diagonal edge of the square charger. My husband who is former Air Force showed me how to make the napkin fold. I got a huge lump in my throat thinking of how many times a flag has been folded in this manner to bestow upon a family whose loved one has perished at war.

Deep blue glass tumblers and clear water goblets from Old Time Pottery find their place at the table.

What’s a seafood boil without the requisite bucket? These red ones from Hobby Lobby are just the right size for individual servings, and a convenient handle makes it easy to carry from the buffet without getting burned.

Individual butter warmers like these from TJ Maxx are great not only for seafood meals but for warming sauces or apple butter for Sunday morning biscuits.

I like to get multiple uses out of things I buy, especially if they cost a lot of money. I used these Z Gallerie white lacquered lanterns for elevated pillar candles HERE. For this display, however, I simply unscrewed the piece that elevates the candle to make room for seashells and flags. Completely different look! Cheery white Gerbera daisies in white ceramic vases from Michael’s visually connect the lanterns.

Fun red, white and blue ceramic star bowls from Pier 1 are perfect for chowder. Cherry bomb red lobster crackers from World Market and crab mallets from Amazon.com will help unleash the delicious meat from the claws.

World Market did a wonderful job this year of providing lots of accessories for seafood dinners including these fun lobster bibs. The Hobby Lobby star-struck ceramic pitchers are ready to take on guests’ thirst.

I bought several of these cool wooden boats from Hobby Lobby several years ago, and they have been a part of many different decorating ventures. Brimming with mollusk shells, they are a really fun addition to the buffet table!

Ahoy, matey! Call guests to dinner with this very cool (and very loud!) Captain’s bell. I bought this one at Home Goods, and I can see it being used for a lot in the future! The string of wooden fish is one of the most fun props in my inventory. I bought it at a place called Premiere Gallery in Kansas City, MO that is now defunct. Boy, oh boy, did they ever have some wild stuff there! I really miss that place!

This tablescape would also be perfect for celebrating Labor Day, Veterans Day, or the homecoming of one of our brave veterans!

I hope it’s cool enough on the 4th to celebrate outside where you are! Whatever you do, please be careful, and have a great time!

Other tablescapes with a patriotic and/or nautical theme on this site:
All-American Seafood Boil
Stars & Stripes 
Lauren in the Library
Show Me State Dinner
Red, White & Blueberries

4th of July Coastal Style
American Royal Tablescape

Join me again this week for Susan’s “Tablescape Thursday” anytime after 9:00 a.m. CDT. I’m sure my fellow bloggers will have lots of creative decorating ideas for your Independence Day celebration!

You can now find me at BeBetsy.com, too!! And please visit The Coconut Head Survival Guide’s “Memorial Day Patriot’s Palooza Party” in support of our military!

Summer Orange Tablescape

If you’re lucky enough to live in an area where the mid-summer heat and humidity doesn’t rob you of all your energy and drench you from head to toe, this saucy orange tablescape might work well for your next casual dinner party. As for me, I’m campin’ out in the big produce cooler at Costco! 😉
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If your outdoor tables are unsightly like ours (average Joe folding tables), just add a full-length linen to cover up the scene of the crime. It masks the ugly and adds a touch of class a la Carolyne Roehm! LinenTablecloth.com is a good place to start your search for linens that fully cover all sizes in white, ivory or black. (Their customer service re: returns/exchanges is not the best from my experience, so choose carefully!)

I skipped chargers this go round. Instead, each place is set with just an orange dinner plate with a meandering white floral design and a salad plate with a reversed color palette. These melamine plates from Target’s 2010 summer collection are just one of so many great patterns available these days at very affordable prices.

The sheer simplicity of Hampton Silversmiths’ “Patriot” flatware works well with so many settings!

Simple clear glass stemware from Old Time Pottery is both inexpensive and functional, and the austere design won’t clash with even the busiest dinnerware pattern.

There are so many great reasons to opt for a long Tuscan-style table for your entertaining needs. Many tend to think that round tables allow for conversation with more guests, but that’s not necessarily the case. If you measure the distance between 6 guests seated at a 72″ round table and compare it to that of 6 guests seated at an 72″ oblong, you’ll see what I mean! The decorating possibilities are extended, too, both literally and figuratively because you can create wonderfully lush centerpieces in the spirit of fabled King Arthur’s era!!!

I used a number of elements to fill out the center of this table. The central component that lends height and allows for candlelight at an elevated level is a pair of white metal hurricane lanterns from Z Gallerie. Flanking 2 sides of each lantern are pots of grass that add both color and texture to the tablescape. Note that the votive holders used are the same shape of the cylinder in the hurricane. Similarly shaped decorative pieces create a subtle sense of order and uniformity.

Whenever possible, I like to place multiple small floral arrangements across the table. Grouping some and leaving some as singles adds visual interest and forms a kind of “link” between elements down the entire length. Here clusters of inexpensive white alstroemeria are displayed in fun pear-shaped orange ceramic vases from Old Time Pottery.

When we dine in the yard, I like to create an outdoor lounge area for guests to chill out before and after the meal. Here I arranged our wrought iron set much as you would in a living room with silk pillows and a “sofa table” (actually just an ugly old 4′ folding table from the garage!) behind the settee. (Cushions are MIA due to a sudden hailstorm of bird poo that had to be vigorously scrubbed off! :-()

The sofa table is covered with a full-length white linen to better show off the orange accessories on top including an actual lamp brought out from our dining room. (Just run the cord to the nearest outdoor outlet! No outlet? Consider creating a cordless lamp using a shade on a glass vase with a battery-operated candle or uplight as seen HERE.) Use a “bug light” rather than a white bulb. It will not only ward off pesky insects, but the amber shade is very flattering and adds to the ambience! Cocktails – in this case, fuzzy navels made with peach schnapps, a splash of triple sec, and fresh-squeezed orange juice – are served from the table.

I’ll be really glad when I can fold up my tent and vacate the Costco produce cooler. Meanwhile, I hope you’re finding a way to stay cool and enjoy your outdoor entertaining!

Other summery tablescapes on this site using orange to jazz it up:
Orange You Glad You Came to Dinner?
Mandarin Bling
Oranges & Blossoms
Raining Orchids
Hot Tropical

I’m pleased to once again join Cuisine Kathleen for Let’s Dish! starting Wednesday anytime after 6:00 CDT and Susan for “Tablescape Thursday” starting anytime after 9:00 a.m. on Thursday.

Flamingos in Paradise

If the thermometer on my car is right, it is currently 96 degrees outside. I’d say summer is h-e-r-e!!!

While living in the great Midwest doesn’t afford much of a true beach experience, we can always dream! This poppin’ pink tropical tablescape for 10 is great for a gathering of friends celebrating any casual summer occasion. I know my good friend/cake stylist, Patrick “the-Flamingo-Lover” Snuffer, would never leave!
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I used two 6-ft. oblong tables pushed together horizontally to create an “almost square.” This shape provides more decorating space in the center with room left over if necessary for bread baskets, wine carafes, condiments and such.

A canvas of crisp white linen allows all the brilliant tropical colors to shine. Hot pink Bormioli Rocca “Inca” glass chargers recently purchased for a song at Gordman’s anchor the place settings. I blogged about it (here), and the pricing on these chargers was so hot that my friend Cherry Kay from Entertaining Women could barely finish her dinner before scooting out the door to snatch some up. I imagined us in that “Run, Forrest! Run!!!!” scene with me cheering her on! 🙂

The melamine dinner plate is a fun and inexpensive 2012 purchase from Old Time Pottery costing just $2.49 apiece. The napkins are actually bandanas purchased at Hobby Lobby. At just $.99 each, you don’t freak out so much about teriyaki sauce stains!

I used faux bamboo flatware from JC Penny Outlet to keep the tropical theme going.

This gorgeous and substantially-weighted turquoise blue stemware from Pier 1 is a perfect match to the cool blues in the dinner plate.

Clear glass cylinders are the workhorse of my centerpiece inventory. You can find them at places like Old Time Pottery, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby and Home Goods. Here a mix of high, medium and low cylinders displays some of the hundreds of seashells gathered or received as gifts over the years. Chalky white starfish from Z Gallerie sit atop the cylinders to add a little more height and form.

The cylinders are flanked by jaunty pink flamingos from Hobby Lobby wading in a sea of still more shells that run the length of the table. I used to confuse flamingos and storks…and then baby made three, and it became crystal clear which was which! 🙂

Snippets of hot pink and cream-colored plumeria are tucked here and there among the shells along with clear cylindrical votives. Even more color and texture is introduced by way of deep green hostas and tropical-looking ferns pillaged from our yard.

These brightly colored paper parasols from Hobby Lobby get a real workout at our house! I like to casually plunk them down around the perimeter of the deck to add color and a little bit of a “Wow!” factor. They’re cheaper and less back-breaking than bringing in a bunch of potted palms. Here they’re kind of like umbrellas in the sand at the beach!

A small oblong drink and hors d’oeuvres table is set up at one end of the deck, flanked by still more of the pretty paper parasols. Another, resting atop another glass cylinder, shades the food & drink from the unforgiving glare of the early evening sun. Tiny parasols garnish each glass.

These oh-so-fun-and-fabulous ceramic flamingo appetizer/salad/dessert plates are making their debut here serving up delicious crab cakes, but look for them again soon taking center stage in another tropical-themed post. My dear blog friend, Mona, sent them to me last summer when I was feeling very blue. Their arrival on my doorstep gave me a surge of energy to the nth power!!! Thank you, sweet Mona!!!♥♥♥

And this, dear friends, is what goes into the creation of a fun, colorful, casual beach/tropical-themed tablescape!

Other posts with a tropical theme on this site:
“Hot Tropical”
“Tropicana”
“Oranges & Blossoms”
“Old Navy Seafood Cruise”

Other posts using paper parasols on this site:
“Daisy Crazy”
 “Oopsy Daisy!”

I will join Cuisine Kathleen for her 14th “Let’s Dish!” this week. Be sure to tune in anytime after 6:00 p.m. CDT on Wednesday. This week is her “At the Beach” tablescape challenge, so it will be lots of fun! C’mon and go surfin’ safari with us! Looking for great centerpiece ideas? Join me at the Style Sisters’ blog for “Centerpiece Wednesday“. I’ll also join Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for “Tablescape Thursday“, available anytime after 9:00 a.m. CDT on Thursday. Come on over! And check me out on BeBetsy.com!

Hot Tropical Tablescape

It reached a hot, humid 93 degrees yesterday in the Kansas City area. 93!!!! June JUST started!!! It feels like we’re in the tropics, but there are no banana trees, beach huts, or hot, shirtless cabana boys bringing me frosty cold fruit drinks with little umbrellas. Where’s the justice???!?!?!?

Since it’s feeling like the Seychelles outside, might as well enjoy a summertime meal with a casual, colorful tropical tablescape full of hot color! (But again, I have to ask….where are the hot cabana boys??!?!?!!)
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One of the most striking colors around for a tropical tablescape is sexy, sultry, steamy hot pink! A lap-length plain linen is finished off with a rush of color and pattern with this monstera leaf/bird of paradise/hot pink plumeria-laden fabric from Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Stores.

Place settings here are kept simple with clean lines that don’t duke it out with the linen. Hot pink melamine dinner plates (also used here) rimmed with a bit of orange are complemented with faux bamboo flatware. No salad plate is present even though a coconut laced fruit salad is on the menu. When dining outside in summer, consider chilling your salad plates or bowls to keep the contents crisper and cooler longer. Also consider presenting the salad fork to each guest in a bowl of ice (shown here or here, Tip #3). It looks cool, makes a grand presentation, and the cool fork won’t wilt your salad greens! (For a tropical setting like this, consider presenting the salad fork in a half shell coconut filled with ice and decorated with a tropical bloom!)

A small orange glass vase from Hobby Lobby is filled with plumeria blooms and placed in the center of each plate. The fabric topper features images of plumeria, lilies, and bird of paradise, so any of those (or a combination!) works well.

 A black poly-cotton napkin from Bed Bath & Beyond is tucked into simple clear glass stemware. (There actually is a bird of paradise napkin fold that  – if you have the patience & skill to create it – would look great if you wanted to place the napkin on the plate.)

The centerpiece used here is one of my favorite parts of the tablescape with its dramatic size, bold color, and asymmetrical design. I have used this oversized ginger jar from Home Goods for a couple of different Oriental tablescapes in the past. It is equally at home here decked with highly textural painted orange bamboo. I decided to place a few of the bamboo sticks in a perpendicular fashion to balance the width with the height of the centerpiece and lend fun modern flair.

A trio of black iron candlesticks outfitted with sleek black tapers is placed on each side of the centerpiece to further extend the length of the centerpiece on the 6-ft. table. Using black tapers rather than pink or orange keeps a sleek, continuous line going.

It’s always a good idea to dress serving tables to complement – although they needn’t necessarily match – the dining table. Here I used a full-length hot pink linen on a round table to serve icy cold “adult beverages” with tropical flair. Notice the plumeria cascading from the fruit bowl to draw from the tiny bouquets at each guest setting.

That’s it for this week! Go slip into a sassy little sarong (or a thong if you can still rock that! ;-)), get something fruity fresh going in the blender, and stay cool! (If you find those cabana boys, though, you have my permission to go from cool & collected to all hot & bothered!!! Can I get an amen? ;-))

Visit more summertime tablescapes on this site by clicking on the “Summer tab and on these individual posts:
Lemonade From Bill
Under a Paper Moon
Tropicana
Oopsy Daisy
Purple & Pastel
Give Peace A Chance Retro Tablescape
“Old Navy Seafood Cruise”

I’m joining Cuisine Kathleen this week for “Let’s Dish!” (anytime after 6:00 p.m. Central Time on Wednesday) and Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for “Tablescape Thursday” (anytime after 9:00 a.m. on Thursday).