Smoke & Mirrors – Sensational at 70

My remarkable friend, Marchita, recently celebrated becoming an official septuagenarian in high spirits and high style. I was asked to create the ambience for the 160-guest celebration. So even with flooding rains plaguing the city (hence the substandard photo quality despite my best editing efforts), my husband and I made every second count of the allotted 2-hour setup time to create a space that represented Marchita: simply, sweetly, sensationally elegant at 70.

This recent 4-minute appearance on KCTV-5’s “Better Kansas City” show summed up my thinking on how to approach the decor without using flowers.

 

My inspiration for the overall room plan was quite unexpectedly stirred by the venue’s house decorator. This luxurious ceiling treatment was going to already be in place for a wedding reception…so I just rolled with that and chose white silk, reflective silver, mirrors, candlelight, and bling for the tables to complement it.

 

 

 

This is the woman of the hour, the sensational Marchita Stanton, standing at the table I created especially for her. I started with a black full-length pinched pinwheel taffeta tablecloth, an upgrade from the venue’s lap-length poly cloths used for the guest tables. A silver 5-arm candelabra to which I added crystal bobeches for extra sparkle graced the center. (These same candelabra were used for “Blue & White Family Picnic” and “Hollywood Fright Night“.)

 

 

 

Satellite lighting included lots of votives and candle lamps created using silver Revere candlesticks topped with white silk shades. (I used a similar technique for the post “Should Have Put A Ring On It“.) I used the same bobeches on the lamps as on the candelabra.

 

I created signs like this for areas throughout the venue. The frames are laden with pearlescent gemstones and rhinestones. (I used these same frames for seating cards in the posts “Fete Noir et Gris“, “Purple & Pastel“, and “Bling Wedding“.)

 

I slipped the chairs at the guest of honor’s table into black Spandex chair covers and added a black sash to which a rhinestone cuff was affixed.

 

 

 

Centerpieces for the guest tables were more subdued than the head table with a single lamp and a few votives. While the lamps complemented the overhead decor and head table, they did not serve to compete. I opted to use the venue’s mirrors to double back the light.

 

 

Marchita requested a special table for the children next to her own table. I wanted it to be special and fun but still work with the rest of the decor. I ordered up a balloon bouquet in black, white and platinum (after all, platinum is the color for celebrating 70 years!) and omitted candles. Marchita put together fun gift/activity bags to be placed in each child’s chair.

 

A quick peek at other details I set up around the venue includes the table in the vestibule for guests to self-check their umbrellas. I admit it could have been nicer, but I didn’t think about it until a few hours before setup when I realized the rain was NOT going to back down. At any rate, it helped avoid confusion after the event as so many umbrellas look alike.

 

 

As guests stepped inside the party room they were greeted by a table reminding them to treat themselves! I dressed the table in a white pinched pinwheel linen and, like the head table, added a silver candelabra. A few scattered LED votives further illuminated the table.

 

I expected a significant amount of cards, so I opted for a silver punch bowl (also used in “Kentucky Derby Buffet” for Mint Julep Punch) to collect them on the gift table.

 

 

 

I forgot the silver trays for the ladies and mens room pampering stations!!! Ugh!!! Oh, well…several guests remarked how appreciative they were to have things like breath mints, floss sticks, and hair spray at their disposal. Notice how the men got FAR less!!! But those shoe mitts came in handy after coming in out of the driving rain.

A few other birthday celebration posts on this site include:
88 Years & 88 Keys
Pretty In Pink
Blue & White 30th Birthday
Celebrating 85 Years of Fabulous!
Purple & Pastel
Grazin’ In the Grass
Princess Pink Birthday Dinner
Happy Birthday, Barf!
Black, White & Red All Over

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black, White, & Red All Over

BLACK, WHITE, & RED ALL OVER
(a re-post from April 2010)

Happy Birthday dinner party on the deck is ready to get underway.

 

 

A casual birthday dinner to celebrate my son and sister-in-law’s birthdays brought out the black & white Royal Stafford “Herdsman” dinner plates. I set black chargers and linen napkins against a crisp white cotton tablecloth, and keeping with the tablescape’s natural theme, I used plain rattan napkin rings. A traditional flatware pattern, Hampton Smith’s “Patriot”, complemented the ensemble. Individual wine tags were put on each person’s glass for mingling after the meal.

 

A shot of color was added to the tablescape with bright red geraniums in simple terra cotta pots. By substituting the geraniums for something more spring-like such as potted tulips or hyacinth, a table like this would also work quite well for a Mother’s Day brunch or luncheon, or any Spring tablescape.

 

To add height, texture and interest to the tablescape, simple potted topiaries shared the center of the table with the geraniums.

 

Wonderful made-from-scratch food and fabulous drink including my introduction to Menage a Trois. The WINE! Get your mind out of the gutter!!!

 

The Birthday Queen and King blow out their candles!

Other black, white, and red tablescapes on this site include:
Black, White, & Red All Over Christmas
Checkered Christmas – A Snowman Theme
Derby Day Dining
Grill It Up!

 

 

 

 

 

Black & White Barnyard Breakfast

One day into official summer, and already I’m melting…melting. While I’m poised to sit on top of the cooling vents in the house for the next 3 months, there are still those of you brave enough to venture outdoors to entertain. Hats off to you!!! This short 4-minute “Better Kansas City” segment I did in recent months features tips on outdoor entertaining. The clip is followed by an actual breakfast/brunch tablescape out on the deck that I hope you enjoy.

 

Got that? Don’t try to burn the house down like me! Now…on to breakfast!

 

The guest table at this bucolic breakfast setting for four is dominated by the ultimate foundation piece: a full-length black & white checkered tablecloth! If all you have is an ugly folding table like I do, a full-length linen works magic!

 

 

 

I found the most beautiful kitchen dishes this past Christmas season at Home Goods! Our kitchen motif is a mix of black & white checks and toile, so these Ciroa “Buffalo Check” dishes are my new favorite.  They made an easy transition out to the deck! The napkins, purchased at Tuesday Morning, are actually kitchen towels that I like to use as napkins. The barnyard motif of a steer, lamb, pig, and rooster make them perfect for this country-/farm-inspired tablescape.

 

 

 

DSCN4698I love these miniature milk bottles with the embossed word “dairy” and a cow (most visible in the photo of the empty bottle) for serving milk! I picked these up at Hobby Lobby a few years ago, and they’ve served me (and guests!) well.

 

If your breakfast guests are a little bit special – like a bridal or baby shower – consider a small favor like this little green woven box simply tied up in a black and white checkered ribbon. The contrasting color of the box makes it really stand out!

 

 

 

 

It’s important that food is beautifully presented and that guest tables are enjoyable.  A mix of everyday and “fancy” pieces round out this table. While the croissants are served in a silver bowl, a loosely gathered mix of flowers and greenery in a whitewashed aluminum pitcher serves as the off-center centerpiece. A bovine menu chalkboard adds a little more of the theme to the table’s centerpiece.

 

 

Off to the side is a miniature buffet table has a plain white tablecloth as its foundation.

 

A generously-proportioned white vase from Home Goods holds a mix of yellow tulips and bright, feathery greenery. A simple off-center centerpiece like this adds something to the buffet table without getting in the way of food service. Notice how the yellow tulips, a significant and pretty contrast to the black & white, complement the yellow flowers on the guest table.

 

 

One of my fun kitchen pigs is another piece of the barnyard buffet theme. I helped him to blend into the works with a bowtie fashioned from black & white checkered ribbon.

 

The black and white buffalo check dishes make another appearance on the buffet table . Hungry yet?

Crazy for buffalo check and/or gingham? “Check” out additional posts on this site using them!:
Black, White, and Red All Over Christmas
Life Is Just a Chair of Bowlies
Checkered Christmas

Looking for more brunch/breakfast ideas? Take a peek at these:
Building a Better Brunch Buffet
Midsummer Shabby Chic Apple Tablescape
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Most Egg-cellent Fall Breakfast
September Harvest Breakfast Tablescape
Peachy Keen Breakfast Tablescape
Christmas Coffee
Winter Brunch
Easter Brunch
Barton’s Easter Brunch
Purple for Spring 
Carousel Colors
The Bluebird Special
Bellini Birthday Brunch
Mother’s Day Brunch

 

Other posts on this site using towels as napkins include:
Popsicle Party
Black & White Barnyard Breakfast

Most Egg-cellent Fall Breakfast
Grill It Up!
Italian Honeysuckle
Picnic Ants

 

 

 

 

Spring & Easter Around the House

Just sharing a few pics of Spring and Easter decor on the main floor of our home. I didn’t do a lot this year as I saved most of my energy to create the dining room tablescape. There’s just enough to let us know Winter is over and Spring is here for to stay awhile.

 

Easter bunny in wood lantern lavished with greenery & flowers

 

Foyer bunny collage

In the foyer by the front door is a wood stand upon which this weathered green hurricane lantern currently resides. I dressed the lantern with a variety of greenery, flowers, and bendable twig. Standing in the thicket is a scholarly-looking bunny once used in a tablescape 3 years ago called Easter in Pink & Grey.

 

Spring vignette on ivory wrought iron tiered stand. www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com

 

Bluebird in nest on tiered stand. www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com

Just around the corner in the dining room window is an ivory wrought iron 2-tiered stand with a bird permanently perched on top. (I used it for a Springtime buffet tablescape, “Taste of Wine Buffet“, when teaching a class back in 2012. I moved a vigorously-growing pothos from another room onto the top tier. The bottom tier has a Pottery Barn weathered wood chunky candlestick with a bluebird from Home Finishings that honors my brother’s memory resting in a nest. I put him somewhere each Spring to commemorate his passing in 1999. (His trucking handle was Bluebird. See that tablescape from 2013, “The Bluebird Special“.)

 

Foyer table for Spring/Easter. www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com

 

Weathered books and birch logs under glass cloche; wooden Easter bunny

Our foyer is narrow, so a small table there holds just a few things including a lamp and a clock. For the season I added a faux boxwood wreath on a stand (Home Finishings), a cute wooden bunny from Hobby Lobby, and a collection of weathered books and birch logs (Home Finishings) under a glass cloche.

 

Wooden bunny in nest of Spanish moss under glass cloche. www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com

 

Wooden bunny under glass cloche with Spanish moss nest. www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com

Just a little touch in the library on a side table: another glass cloche with a wooden bunny tending a Spanish moss nest with a singular speckled egg.

 

Living room bookshelves. www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com

 

White pierced ginger jar on stack of books with airy wreath at the base. www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com

The family room is slowly transitioning from Winter to Spring with white accessories and a few touches of greenery including these light and airy wreaths from Home Finishings. This is a great way to lighten, brighten, and freshen up existing accessories. (Ginger jar from Burlington, pierced jardiniere from Hobby Lobby, artichoke from Z Gallerie.)

 

Desk area in kitchen dressed up for Spring. www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com

 

Desk area shelf dressed for Spring. www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com

 

White bunnies with black & white gingham check neck bows in front of black & white transferware. www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com

The desk area in our kitchen went largely unused for the first 10 years or so after moving in. I have an office, so I never used this as a desk. I have since artfully arranged dishes in the glass front cupboards overhead and added decorative dishes to the shelf and desktop. For the Easter season, white bunnies get black & white gingham check neckties. (The black and white transferware is from TJ Maxx some years back and was featured in my posts “Black, White & Red All Over” in 2010 and “Wondrous Wheat!” in 2011). The black & white buffalo check dishes were purchased this past Christmas season at Home Goods, and I LOVE them!!! The small decorative wreath is from Michael’s this season.)

 

Breakfast nook. www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com

 

Breakfast nook dressed for Easter. www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com

 

3-tier galvanized stand outfitted for Easter with nests, bunnies, faux artichokes, grass & hyacinth. www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com

 

3-tier galvanized stand outfitted for Easter (back view) with faux hyacinth, cabbages and carrots, bunnies and birdhouse. www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com

 

Tiered stand on kitchen table collage. www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com

Our breakfast nook has a lot going on! I always enjoy decorating the 3-tiered galvanized stand that I bought a couple of years ago at Sam’s Club for just $19.99. (I have seen them again this year at that price, but only in colors.) At any rate, I enjoyed bring Spring to the breakfast nook by adding a few bunnies, those popular white bird salt & pepper shakers from Pier 1 perched atop a homemade nest, some faux greenery and veggies, a small wood bird nest, and a bowl of speckled eggs with feathers.

 

Side table dressed for Easter in breakfast nook. www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com

 

Bunny with nest collage. www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com

The side table in the breakfast nook holds a collection of white pitchers on the bottom shelf. For Easter I brought out a white bunny rabbit I found on clearance at TJ Maxx. A black & white gingham check bow tie and a basket filled with moss and eggs makes him look a bit fancier. Another bit of greenery from Home Finishings is tucked in behind him to add texture and separate the sea of white on the table. The whitewashed galvanized pitcher (used also as part of the centerpiece for my piece, “Spring Green” back in April of 2014) overflows with purple hyacinth. The faux cabbage in the clay pot is from Michael’s, and the oversized white tray in the backdrop (as are most of the pitchers on the lower shelf) is from Home Goods.

 

Stone bunny with glass cloche.

The big stone bunny finds his way all around the house throughout the year. He’s sort of a mascot! For the Easter season I have him on the breakfast bar holding a glass cloche over a nest of twigs and moss with a butterfly. He, too, has a snappy black & white checked bow tie as well as a cascading strand of wispy greenery from Home Finishings. My friends Liz (from over at Sit With Me In My Garden), Johanne (from French Gardener Dishes), and Athena (from Minerva’s Garden) will be relieved to see I’ve not (yet!) killed the orchid a sweet young friend and mentee, MacKenzie, at Pinpoint Event Planning gave me a few months ago.

I no longer have a comment section, but if you have questions about where to buy featured items or how I put something together, please email me at table21tablescapes@gmail.com.

I hope you enjoyed the Easter Home tour! If you’ve not yet seen it, please pop over to see the Easter tablescape in the dining room. Meanwhile, I wish you and your family a very blessed Easter week.

88 Years and 88 Keys

This is a 2-minute compilation video of the birthday celebration.
See still photos below.

 

My Mom very recently celebrated her 88th birthday. Here’s the thing, though: In no way does this woman personify the “typical” 88-year-old. Although she retired from the Missouri Senate about 6 years ago to care for my ailing Dad, she never really retired. She still has a seat on several boards, is active in her church and community, shops like a demon, and continues to pick up various civic awards. In fact, I had to postpone her annual birthday luncheon by 5 days so that she could attend an awards luncheon on her actual birthday! The Starr Women’s Hall of Fame Induction & Award Luncheon had an impressive guest list of about 1,000 and featured keynote speaker actor/activist/author Ashley Judd (so nice, so pretty, and a powerful speaker). It was a different but fun way to celebrate.

Sen. Yvonne S. Wilson (Ret.)

Mom entering the stage as she is introduced.

 

Sen. Yvonne S. Wilson (ret.)

Mom with her medal

 

Sen. Yvonne S. Wilson (ret.)

Proud moment for my husband and me to be there with my Mom!

 

L to R: my cousin Dee, me, my Mom, Ashley Judd, my Aunt Vivienne, my niece Yvonne, and my sister Berishia

 

How on earth could I possibly follow something as cool as that??!?!??!!? Answer: Don’t even try to compete! Just do what you do, or as the kids say, “Just do you.”

The invitations were the inspiration for the tablescape. My Mom has always loved piano music (she endured me tickling the ivories for years!), and so I came up with the idea to pair the 88 keys of the piano with the celebration of her 88 years. I bought 3-part invitations at Hobby Lobby, but decided to create the actual invitation insert myself on plain white cardstock. You’ll see what I did with the other part later.

 

We moved the keyboard upstairs from the basement level to the library for our featured pianist, 10-year-old music student Gabriella Howell, to regale the ladies as they arrived for cocktail hour. (This is Gabriella with her mother, my friend, Angelynn Howell.)

 

 

 

Each guest stopped in the foyer to greet Mom and have an individual photo taken with her. Guests included longtime friends and family. I asked guests to please wear black, white, or a combination of the two for the event so that Mom would stand out in her brilliant red outfit.

 

The dining table was, as almost always during inclement weather, set up in the living room. In keeping with our 88 Keys theme, I chose black & white striped stretch chair covers from LinenTablecloth.com. I’ve used these same chair covers in other diverse tablescapes including Hometown Pride: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos and Blurred Lines With Shades of Pink. The invitation and menu had beautiful black & white damask, so I represented that in the table runner, also from LinenTablecloth.com.

 

The tablecloth used on each of the two 6-ft. tables is simply a white washable 90″ x 132″ poly from LinenTablecloth.com. I loosely tie the ends to keep guests from tripping over the generously proportioned cloth.

 

Nothing pops on black and white quite like red does, so I put together five arrangements of deep red regular size and spray roses along with fluffy, fragrant carnations in cut crystal rose bowls. Simple, but elegant.

 

Each place setting began with a black charger in a contemporary cut topped with a simple square cut B. Smith plate. Black “San Remo” flatware is paired with a cut crystal-handled luncheon knife. “Longchamps” stemware completes the setting.

 

Here is where I used the intended invitation insert…for the menu! I couldn’t get them to go through my computer, so I MacGyver’ed it and printed the menu onto plain white cardstock which was then cut to size and clipped to the backdrop with a tiny black clothespin from Michaels. The red grosgrain ribbon and rhinestone buckle were included with the invitations, so I used them to add a dash of color to the menu. The menus were placed atop a plain black napkin set on the luncheon plates.

 

After-luncheon coffee and dessert service was set up on the breakfast bar. Our kitchen is mercifully decorated in black & white, so everything worked well together through the semi-open space.

 

I found painted white wood numbers in the clearance bin at Hobby Lobby.

 

The dollar store now has cool black & white striped paper napkins!!!

 

I made vanilla cupcakes with light buttercream frosting sprinkled with red & black sugar confetti. They are displayed on white Ralph Lauren “Pavillion” cake stands.

 

No one leaves our home after an event without some sort of favor in hand! I baked sugar cookies, some in musical note shapes and some stamped with musical notes using black gel dye. The black & white striped cardboard favor boxes from Michaels each got a splatter of notes, too. I stuffed them with black & white crinkled & shredded paper.

 

Happy 88th Birthday, Mom! You know I so enjoy being able to host you and your friends each year. Here’s wishing you many, many more!

If you’d like to see previous birthday celebrations for my Mom:
“Celebrating 85 Years of Fabulous”,
or the “Birthdays” tab above for more celebrations!
One more you might really like on this site:
“The Party She Deserves”

Happy April, everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing the Zing to Chinese Takeout 

Once again earlier this year I was a guest on the “Better Kansas City” show. Getting up, dressed, and out the door that early is a real challenge for me, but I really enjoy it every time. This day was particularly fun with tips on creating a tablescape that presents Chinese takeout like a boss! CLICK on the video below to watch the 2-1/2-minute clip from the show, and after that are a few still photos I was able to snap with my iPad. (Time is very short on the set prior to going live, so I’m lucky to squeeze in a few pics!)

 


When I set up these demonstration tables on the set, remember…they are probably more narrow than your typical dining room table by about 12″ or so. The demo table is 6-ft. in length, but only 30″ wide compared to our 42″ wide dining table at home. That being said, you’d have more center space for food, additional decor, or just blank real estate than what’s shown here.

 


Each place setting has a black acrylic square charger (Walmart) topped with an Asian-themed 222 Fifth square plate (“Mia Blossom”) and small rice bowl from Pier 1 Imports. Pier 1 is a terrific place to buy globally themed dishes and decor! If you don’t have one near you, their website is pretty easy to navigate. (Too tall for this television demo, but a vase or two with a simple arrangement of cherry blossoms would be perfect for this tablescape!!)

 


Not everyone is adept at using chopsticks, so as a courtesy to your guests you may want to add flatware such as this faux bamboo stainless. Use the wooden chopsticks typically provided by the restaurant, or consider investing in a pair of permanent ones like these stainless steel beauties resting on a black onyx holder from a local specialty store. The white miso spoons here are from Pier 1. The “Capri” porcelain spice cellars by Gallery Tabletops are from T.J. Maxx and are great for spices or sauces at individual place settings.

 


Each place setting has a little something extra in the way the bamboo fan favors and black napkins, folded to resemble a Chinese sash, are presented in a red silk takeout box from Pier 1.

 


Teapot and cups from World Market.

 


White sake set from World Market. I picked up the Chinese robe wine bottle cover at Tuesday Morning a couple of years ago.


As I pointed out on the show, sometimes food is just so beautiful you might consider using it as a centerpiece. While this sushi is just a pretty good fake for demonstration purposes, it represents the real thing which always abounds in color, form, and texture…perfect elements for a gorgeous centerpiece!

If you’d like to see more tablescapes with an Asian flair for Chinese New Year or anytime Chinese food presentation just needs a little gussying up, check out these posts:
Peaceful Peonies
Year of the Rabbit
Chinese Takeout
Mum’s the Word/Zen Garden
Mikasa Daylight (Design #2)
Float Like A Butterfly
Mandarin Bling
Blue & White 30th Birthday
Copper Zen

Wondrous Wheat!

I hope your Thanksgiving was one filled with love and laughter and lots of fabulous food! Ours certainly was, and I was thrilled to be surrounded by family and friends whose love I treasure.

With 28 tummies to fill, we had to set up in various locations around the house with a different theme in each area. The lower level had seating for the football enthusiasts, while the main level had a table for 10 in the living room and one for 6 in the dining room.  It is my understanding that wheat symbolizes prosperity and blessing. The dining room – with all the homemade breads and desserts on the buffet – seemed the perfect place to celebrate the fall harvest.

IMG_3130WMWhile black and creamy white may not be a traditional Thanksgiving decor combination, I decided to buck the system and go for it!

IMG_3171WMInspiration for this black and white tablescape came from my Royal Stafford “Herdsman” dinner plates. The rim is peppered with stems of wheat among the bounty of fruits and flowers. The braided rope rim of the charger imitates the design on the inner circle of the plate.

The black napkins are folded twice lengthwise then doubled over inside the silver napkin ring. I fanned out the bottom for a fuller look of this simple napkin fold.

IMG_3167WMKeeping with the very traditional look of the table – color scheme notwithstanding – I chose Mikasa’s “Jamestown Platinum” stemware. The name “Jamestown” just evokes thoughts of colonial Virginia! (Fun fact: Jamestown celebrated their first Thanksgiving 401 years ago in 1610.)

IMG_3132WMOf course, Hampton Silversmith “Patriot” flatware seemed absolutely right for this traditional Thanksgiving tablescape! (Hampton…yet another Virginia city!)

IMG_3127WMAn image of wheat on the menu furthers the theme. (Find recipes for the Drunken Peach Cobbler, Sweet Potato Pie, and Apple-Walnut Cake here or by clicking on “Recipes” tab above.)

IMG_3144WMThe centerpiece was kept simple with a few silver candlesticks and blackbeard wheat in square vases. The very center of the table was reserved for a silver bread basket filled with cornbread muffins and my sister’s fabulous yeast rolls.

IMG_3152WMThe buffet piece is a blackbeard wheatsheaf adorned with a simple black bow. No one was more surprised than I that it turned out as nice as it did…and didn’t fall over! 🙂

Thanksgiving 2011…out!