Celebrating Longview Farm

I’ve been in a kind of funk lately. When I’m feeling down, it’s hard for me to write. It has been tough just to get out of bed most mornings, let alone share thoughts and witticisms with others. Things just pretty much suck right now. Not Hurricane Sandy sucking (may God bless and protect all of you guys!), but y’know…they just suck!

Because I’m trying to be a trooper, though, I thought I’d at least share a couple of photos with you of an autumn reception buffet tablescape I created a while back. The event was to commemorate the release of a PBS piece supported by the R.A. Long Historical Society. We live at historical Longview Farm in Lee’s Summit, MO, a.k.a. “The World’s Most Beautiful Farm“, and I love our community, so I was more than happy to help out. Show horses have long been associated with the Robert A. Long family’s empire (and is a prominent part of our community’s official horse and buggy logo), so I knew just what to use!
(Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge it.)

The public reception and documentary screening were held at the historic Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, MO., which is a monument in homage to the men and women who lost their lives as well as the surviving veterans of World War I. Dedicated on November 11, 1926, the Liberty Memorial also houses the National World War I Museum (as designated by the U.S. Congress in 2004). Robert A. Long contributed a substantial amount of money toward the building of the Liberty Memorial and served as president of the Memorial Association for a time. It was, therefore, only fitting that the screening and reception be held in this awesome place. (Honestly, folks…if you’re ever in the Kansas City, MO area, this place is a must see! The glass bridge and field of 9,000 poppies alone is worth the ticket price!!!)

The largest table held a bounty of wonderful desserts not prepared by me! 🙂 I displayed the sweets on silver pieces of varied levels for the most impact. This large wooden horse (also used for posts Carousel Colors, American Royal TablescapeDerby Day Dining, Kentucky Derby Buffet, and Run for the Roses) served as the centerpiece, surrounded by scads of autumn foliage, flowers, berries and pumpkins. Tall silver candlesticks added shine and elegance as well as ambient light to the centerpiece.

The beverage table displayed a smaller horse (which I have since foolishly sold) with similar silver and autumn embellishments.

That’s it for this week, folks. Best wishes for a fun, safe, and happy Halloween. And to all my friends on the east coast of the U.S., please be safe as you ride out Hurricane Sandy. That chick is not playin’!!!

For a complete list of more buffet tablescapes on this site, click on the “Buffet Tables” tab at the top of this page!

I’m hooking up with Cuisine Kathleen’s “Let’s Dish!“, the Style Sisters’ “Centerpiece Wednesday“, and Susan’s “Tablescape Thursday” this week. There are always so many great creations by my tablescaping colleagues that you surely don’t want to miss!

Halloween Tablescape – Ravenous Raven Graveyard Feast

This is another table from my “Fabulous Fall Tablescaping” class through Longview Community College. I wanted the students to really feel the atmosphere, so I went a little overboard. They say, “The devil’s in the details,” and I guess there’s no better time than Halloween to let the devil do his thing!

Watch this short video (shaky a la “Blair Witch Project” and “Paranormal Activity”) if you want to really get a feel for the sights & sounds my students experienced: doors creaking, wind blowing, bones crunching, strobe lights flashing, and spine tingling screams…or as I like to call it, “Just Another Tuesday Night at the Nichols Household!”
(Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge it. Photos and video by Sheri L. Grant.)

It’s cool. Is this not a face you can trust? 🙂 C’mon in!

At the front door to greet students was a behemoth python (Spirit Halloween) with his steroid-enhanced spider minions. I trained an uplight from across the room onto the vignette to lend a spooky effect. Tip: Whenever you want something to look spooky, just uplight it like they do in the movies!

Students were warned not to venture upstairs where I’d be unable to protect them from the evil that lurked beyond the yellow tape. (My unmade bed and several baskets of dirty laundry! ;-))You could almost hear the stealthy footsteps of the (Dollar Tree) rats as they crept along. (One student – I don’t want to put her on blast, but it was wedding planner Precious Whitmore 😉 – almost lost her lunch when she saw this area. She is terrified by rats…even fake ones!!!)

 The foyer table just beneath the stairwell is quietly aglow with an uplit pumpkin on a black urn and a few LED candles. I used LED candles throughout for safety’s sake.

Are you ready to step into the graveyard to be eaten for dinner?

The dining room table is shrouded in a full-length black linen (LinenTablecloth.com) to give the appearance of the items on top just kind of floating in the relative darkness.

Plates depicting a raven perched in graveyard branches were purchased at our local Hy-Vee grocery store. They were the inspiration for the room’s overall theme.

I used plain clear glass stemware from Old Time Pottery. The flatware is Hampton Silversmiths “San Remo” stainless which in this context takes on a sort of Gothic look. The black & white floral napkins (Stein Mart) adopt a decidedly spookier look when rolled and secured with the spiked napkin ring. The Dollar Tree napkin rings are actually those popular slap on bracelets. These would be really fun as a dual purpose napkin ring/favor for guests! Tip: Stretch your dollars by incorporating favors into the decor!

I had fun creating these menus. The backing is sparkly black paper from Michael’s craft store. I secured the printed page onto the backing with a black brad from Hobby Lobby.

A headstone marks the grave place setting of each guest. You might use gray duct tape upon which to write the names of each victim guest and affix it to the headstone to create a place card. (If you want to really personalize your headstone place cards, click HERE for my good friend and floral guru Kelly Acock’s step-by-step instructions.)

The main part of the centerpiece is this gnarly manzanita branch structure from Gordman’s. It’s big but guests can still see one another. Lurking in the branches are vicious snakes and surly ravens, both from Dollar Tree.

This place is just crawling with bugs…literally! (Dollar Tree) Maggots have transformed into flies that crawl upon the mossy earth around the headstones and beneath the trees.

I wanted to use something of a floral nature that would still be kind of dark and morose. This blood red faux boxwood seemed to do the trick in a black glass vase.

A delightful Halloween buffet awaits. Come and get it…if you dare!

Start your meal with an appetizer of assorted finger foods. Move on down the buffet line to a tasty Silence of the Lambs-inspired liver & fava bean salad. You have your pick of entrées including a ghoulishly gastronomical delight of brains with death cap mushrooms picked from our very own yard. Bwahahahahaha! (Entrails and severed body parts all from Dollar Tree.)

These tasty morsels may look like calamari at first glance, but they’re actually shrunken & skeletonized hands freshly plucked from unmarked graves. Notice the lovely tarnish on the silver.

When we say “fresh”, we mean fresh!!! The blood has barely begun to coagulate on another enticing entrée called “Nevermore Hand Hash.” Enjoy the crunchy goodness of bone casserole served with slithering snakes. And for dessert: lovely lady fingers, of course! Once again, take notice of the tarnished silver. (It took incredible restraint to let all of these silver pieces tarnish like this in anticipation of using them for Halloween!!!!!) Tip: The Dollar Tree “blood” is fun to work with, but it WILL STAIN WOOD FINISHES!!!!!!!!!! I found this out the hard way! 😦

A lot of the food is still alive when served, and chasing it down really works up a thirst. Quench that thirst and wash down your meal with one of our mellow libations. (Libation labels from Spirit Halloween.)

I created this spooky Halloween “tree” using a fallen limb from our yard augmented with several curly willow branches tied in with a virtually undetectable dark-colored wired jute. I secured the branches under dark river stones in a black urn that I sat on a box (disguised by a black linen) to lend a bit more height. The votive hangers were hand-fashioned from a medium gauge floral wire. Once again, LED candles are used to be safe around the dry wood. I finished the arrangement off with mounds of Spanish moss.

Beneath the tree in true spooky graveyard fashion are miscellaneous bones, a skull, and runaway eyeballs.

Thick blood pours from lighted skulls on the decorative sconces.

I gave chairs a ghostly look by covering them with oblong table linens. The same effect can be achieved with queen- or king-sized bed sheets.

The top of the china cabinet is decorated with moss- and lichen-covered branches.

As usual, Geoffrey insisted on joining the fun! Masquerading as the Angel of Death, I barely recognized him! 😉

Other Halloween tablescapes on this site:
Serpents & Skullduggery
Hollywood Fright Night
It’s the Great Pumpkin!

I’m joining the following blog parties in the coming week:
♠ The Tablescaper’s “Seasonal Sunday
♠ Cuisine Kathleen’s “Let’s Dish!” (Wednesday after 6:00 p.m. CDT)
♠ The Style Sisters’ “Centerpiece Wednesday” (Wednesday after 9:00 a.m. CDT)
♠ Susan’s “Tablescape Thursday” (Thursday after 9:00 a.m. CDT)
♠ Yvonne’s “Tips, Tidbits & Tutorials” (Thursday after 9:00 a.m. CDT)

Quick & Casual Plaid & Paisley Fall Dinner Tablescape

I’m going to say it just this once, and then I’m going to leave it alone: dear, sweet, lovable husbands…get a clue!!!!!!!!! To be fair, this does not include all husbands, but I think the vast majority have no idea what kind of time, effort, and preparation goes into a dinner party. Even if it’s a casual dinner, there’s a measure of thought and toil necessary to pull it off. I’m not saying it was my husband who was the most recent offender…….but it was MY HUSBAND who was the most recent offender!!!

OK…enough bellyaching about something that is just as inherent on his end as it is incomprehensible on mine. Given only about 12 hours notice and already beyond knee-deep in other tasks, this is the quick & casual fall dinner tablescape I pulled out of my… I created (and photographed just minutes before everyone arrived!).
(Click on any photo to enlarge/enhance it.)

This is the way the table looked before I went into panic mode…my “regular centerpiece” just hangin’ out, mindin’ it’s own business, not hurtin’ anyone.

No time for ironing a table linen! No time for creating a fabulous centerpiece…use the one that’s already in there (you’ve been looking forward to pairing plaid with paisley anyway!), and just adjust it to make room for all the dishes.
RUN, Forrest…RUN!!!

Rust-colored metal chargers work well as the foundation to this beautiful 222 Fifth “Maharana” paisley patterned dinnerware. I used a plain white Corelle salad plate to break up the color a bit and work with the white of the bowl’s center. Using a bit of white or ivory helps to brighten your fall tablescape and prevent color saturation that can make darker tones seem to disappear into the table.

The burgundy brushed cotton napkins (Pier 1) are folded across the salad plate and “zhushed” on each side around the bowl just to make them look a bit more interesting.

Olive green stemware from Dollar Tree picks up on the olive tones in the centerpiece fabric and paisley dinnerware design.

A length of lightweight plaid fabric in fall shades of pumpkin, burgundy, olive and cream is carefully “zhushed” around a massive faux pumpkin. Faux bittersweet vine meanders around and across the pumpkin while a small smattering of votives provides ambient light.

The votive candles on the buffet behind the dining table were already assembled from my tablescaping class earlier in the week, so I just left them there and served everything from the kitchen. (If all else fails, just design your room with tons of candlelight. Everybody looks good in the glow of it, and it adds a lot of pizzazz without a lot of effort!!!) Pumpkins, also used in a classroom demonstration, are plopped down across the china cabinet and on the tea cart to add another touch of fall in the room.

Thank goodness for Costco!!! Dinner done, dining room decorated, dressed, and smiling like a Cheshire Cat for guests in under 12 hours. Feelin’ pretty good about myself right now. Hubby’s still wearing a steak over his eye! 😉

Check out more Fall tables on this site:
Autumn” page (10 fabulous fall posts on this page!)
Casual Fall Harvest Dinner
September Harvest Breakfast
Pumpkins & Peacocks
Wondrous Wheat
Pheasants & Peacocks
Best Laid Plans
Serape High Style
Sunflower Simple
Raining Orchids
September Wine
Autumn Blues

You still have about a week to sign up for my “Tablescaping a Winter Wonderland” class through Longview Community College. Click HERE for more information, or contact the Community Education Department at 816-604-2030.

I am joining Cuisine Kathleen for “Let’s Dish!” starting at 6:00 p.m. CDT on Wednesday, the Style Sisters for “Centerpiece Wednesday“, and Susan over at Between Naps on the Porch for “Tablescape Thursday” staring Thursday morning at 9:00 CDT. If you want to get an eyeful of great fall tablescaping ideas, join me!

Casual Fall Harvest Dinner Tablescape

Tonight is the final night of my “Fabulous Fall Tablescaping” classes. Starting tomorrow I will  leave autumn behind and start the task of building Christmas (yes, I said CHRISTMAS…already!!!) tablescapes throughout the house in anticipation of the next class series, “Tablescaping a Winter Wonderland“. I will have just two short weeks to convert the straw bales and pumpkins of fall into holiday wonderment. Yikes!!!

In last week’s class I demonstrated to my students how the same table linens from my September Harvest Breakfast Tablescape could take on a whole new look for a fall dinner with the simple addition of another layer and some accessory changes.
(Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge it. Photos by Sheri L. Grant.)

Last week’s harvest table used the same hunter green full-length linen topped with soft burlap. The addition of a third layer – an autumnal quilt created by my talented friend and neighbor, Barbara – creates a wonderful, rich sense of seasonal coziness as well as an American homespun feel. Layered linens are a great way to add color, pattern and texture to your tablescape.

A deep rust-colored metal charger (Tuesday Morning) is topped with a pumpkin dinner plate that I found at a Price Chopper grocery store at 103rd & State Line in Kansas City, MO. To break up the saturation of dark colors that would essentially make the places settings disappear into the quilt, an ivory salad plate (T.J. Maxx) with a raised pattern rim is used. The bowl, also from Price Chopper, is deep enough to hold the heartiest of soups on a chilly fall evening. Notice how the colors in the linens are mirrored in the place settings.

The two-tone cotton napkin (also seen here in “September Wine” and here in “Pears & Pinecones“) is folded to allow both colors to show and to mimic the triangular shapes in the quilt topper. Little details like this are not necessarily something your guests will notice, but it is a subconscious draw.

Smoky brown stemware (Old Time Pottery) picks up the deep brown in the quilt, and a simple flatware pattern, Hampton Silversmith “Patriot-Mirror”, complements the setting.

A pair of rustic pine cone-topped lanterns with pumpkin-colored candles are visually connected by a trail of pine cones and pears. Using seasonal fruit as a part of harvest table decor is a natural and inexpensive way to work with the theme. (Don’t forget to freeze those pine cones first to kill off any hidden critters!)

Try to imagine this table set up outside on a patio or deck. Can’t you just imagine this harvest vignette in a nearby corner or near the buffet table? Extending the theme of your dining table to an adjacent area really gets guests in the mood! Our weather conditions (wind mostly) here in the Kansas City, MO area last week wouldn’t allow me to set this demonstration table up outdoors, but I sure wish I could have!

This Children of the Corn-looking scarecrow freaked me out a little at first, but he seemed to just fit in somehow! 🙂 (Nonetheless, I keep him locked in a closet on the lower level! Look at that psychopathic/serial killer/eat-your-liver-with-a-side-of-fava-beans-and-a-nice-chianti look on his face!)

Click on these links for more autumn tablescapes on this site:
September Wine
September Harvest Breakfast
Autumn Blues
Serape High Style
Wondrous Wheat
Pheasants & Peacocks
Pumpkins & Peacocks

I am pleased to join Cuisine Kathleen for “Let’s Dish!” starting Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. CDT and Susan for “Tablescape Thursday” starting at 9:00 a.m. CDT on Thursday. If you love looking at creative, inspiring tablescapes, you’ll love these blog parties! Join me, won’t you?