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:

The Blue & The Grey – Lest We Forget

Juneteenth now has now established its place in history. With origins in Galveston, TX, it commemorates the emancipation of people enslaved right here on American soil as it simultaneously celebrates African American culture. Though not a part of the general American curriculum, it has been celebrated on June 19 of each year since 1866, and it has just been declared a federal holiday. African American history is AMERICAN HISTORY. While the colors of the Pan-African flag – red, black & green – have been more recently associated with Juneteenth, the official flag was red, white & blue as it declared that all previously enslaved American people and their descendants are indeed AMERICANS. Nothing less. The uniforms of the Civil War (1861-1865), fought in part over slavery in American society, eschewed both of these color schemes in favor of blue for the Union (North) and grey for the Confederates (South). My celebration of Juneteenth, lest we forget, unites those uniform colors in harmony and embraces the red, white & blue that stands for ALL AMERICANS in the ongoing, often painfully elusive pursuit of “one nation under God” with “liberty and justice for all.”

I paired my Mother’s beautiful light grey/white center/platinum rim Easterling “Majestic” china with the more contemporary Kate Spade for Lenox “Rutherford Circle Navy” pattern. I love the simplicity of both patterns that transcend time and levels of formality. To lean in the more formal direction this go round I used my Mom’s “Lady Esther” by Queen Esther silverplate flatware and my own Noritake “Spectrum” platinum-rimmed stemware. White ceramic chargers create a unified look around the table.

Crisp white hemstitch napkins are gathered with a floral starburst ring.

The centerpiece is made up of a silver reticulated gallery tray topped with a massive glass globe filled with curly willow branches that encircle a pair of American flags. (My first thought was that the branches represented the branches of our American government, but that got WAY too deep…even for me!🤔) Flanking the bowl are smaller glass globes filled with beautiful red roses from my friend/neighbor, Barbara, and a pair of tall, intricately engraved candlesticks. (That Barbara…she always knows how to cheer me up!🥰)

I absolutely LOVE these Kate Spade bowls! Classic and chic!

On the vitrine, coffee and dessert (I am LOVING all the cool new baking cups found at Home Goods/TJ Maxx/ Marshalls!!!) are served up in high Americana style. I ceremoniously fold and save every flag that we fly on our house, then dutifully drag them out each summer to put on display in our home. The one in the center was given to my Mom upon her retirement from the Missouri Senate.🇺🇸

If you’d like to see more patriotic tablescapes on this blog, check these out:

A White Sport Coat & A Pink Carnation

Marty Robbins. Anyone? Anyone? If you’re in my age group, or if you’re a fan of vintage country music, you recognize the name and the tune. And now you’re gonna be involuntarily humming it for the next 2 days! “A white sport coat, and a pink carnation.” You’re welcome!😁

The late, great design innovator Joe Nye and I both have a soft spot for the oft-maligned carnations. Gorgeous? Check! Fun texture? Check! Fabulous fragrance? Check! Affordable? Hell to the y-e-s, CHECK!!! CARNATIONS! I kept my affinity for them on the down low until I soaked up the pages of his book “Flair” years ago. He unapologetically flaunted carnations, pink ones in particular, in his fabulous chinoiserie table designs. So without further soapbox cheering on their behalf, I give you my 2021 Mothers Day tablescape featuring…(insert wild guess here)…pink carnations!

A mix of new and not-so-new purchases make up this proper pink, crystal-laden tablescape. Although the dishware has a vintage look, it is new from Home Goods. Joseph Sedgh “Floral Blush” china with its barely there pink and tinges of gold teams up with a trio of stemware. The red wine glass is a very subtle pink, while the gold-rimmed champagne flute and water glass are clear. A delicate faux pearl ring encircles the crisp white hemstitch napkin.

Fluffy pink carnations crowd gold textured floral vessels to create a dramatic yet very feminine centerpiece. Using multiples in 2 sizes adds visual interest. The crystal candlesticks are dripping with facets that catch the light reflected from the scattered crystal votive holders beneath.

On the vitrine is a simple dessert and coffee set up with some of the same elements from the dining table for continuity of color, texture, and theme.

Well, that’s it for me this Mothers Day week! I plan to spend Mothers Day at home just puttering around our yard. What are your plans? I’d love to hear them! Whatever you do, I wish you health, wealth, wisdom, and peace.

If you like pink as much as I do, here are a few other posts on this site just bursting with it!

Thanksgiving 2017 In Gold & White

Thanksgiving is just 3 weeks away?!??!??!!? Let’s dive right into this quick clip from an appearance on the “Better Kansas City” show to discuss casual vs. formal Thanksgiving tablescapes.

With all that in mind, here’s an example of a more formal Thanksgiving tablescape that I created for a recent community presentation. It has all the trappings of a traditional formal setting with crystal and china and linen napkins, yet it’s pared down to better reflect modern times.

 

 

This tablescape begins with a luxurious shimmering gold crinkle taffeta tablecloth, a terrific reflective backdrop to the crystal and china.

 

 

 

 

I kept the place settings a stark white for the most part, starting with a snow white charger. The absence of color in the setting is briefly interrupted by the thin gold band on the rim of the dinner plate and subtle design on the Royal Scotland soup bowl. A capricious beaded wreath encircles a pristine white pumpkin just for show. I tucked a simple white napkin just underneath the charger to hang over the table’s edge and disrupt the expanse of gold in the tablecloth. Unadorned gold flatware and Cristal d’Arques “Longchamps” stemware complete each place setting.

 

 

 

 

The formality of the table is primarily conveyed by the pair of hefty gold-trimmed crystal epergnes in the centerpiece. (These epergnes were also used in “Thanksgiving 2010” and “Shake Your Tail Feather“.) I briefly agonized over what to place in the epergne bowls and ultimately decided to repeat the look at each place setting with the addition of a bit of feathery greenery and reindeer moss. The moss recurs in a trio of etched gold ceramic cylinders. The “gold leafed” wishbones are from Hobby Lobby.

 

 

 

 

 

The buffet behind the dining table is decked out in white pumpkins of varying size accented with creamy hydrangea, sprigs of white snowberry, deer sheds and bundled birch logs. The crystal votive holders amp up the setting and continue the formality of the table. Over on the bar cart, a bowl of acorns is surrounded by a snowberry wreath. A lone orange mini pumpkin adds a splash of color.

Other Thanksgiving tablescapes on this site include:
Celebrate Me Home – Thanksgiving 2012
Thanksgiving 2010
Wondrous Wheat
Pheasants & Peacocks
Shake Your Tail Feather
Over the River and Through the Woods

I’m joining Susan at “Between Naps on the Porch” again this week for her 475th Tablescape Thursday! I’m also joining the party at “Celebrate Your Story” for the first time. You won’t want to miss the fabulous tablescapes there!

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Let It Snow!”

Christmas Eve 2009 brought a thick blanket of snow to the Kansas City area. What better way to celebrate it than to bring a few snowflakes inside to the dining room tablescape?

Because I wanted to keep a little bit of a “woodland” look, I kept the table bare of linens to expose its grainy wood.

A shiny silver charger anchors platinum rimmed white Noritake “Spectrum” dinner plates, followed by a shimmering acrylic snowflake, and finally a white snowflake-laden salad plate from Pier 1. Mikasa‘s Jamestown Platinum stemware and heirloom silver flatware complete the setting. The centerpiece is made up of a large silver cake plateau topped with “snow-dusted” faux evergreens and lots of pillar candles.

Sometimes one napkin is simply not enough! Layering napkins – here a sheer silver organza from Pier 1 over crisp white cotton – gives a richer look. The rhinestone flecked napkin rings continue the snowflake trend.

I love these mirrored candlesticks from Pier 1 (2009 collection) used to elongate the centerpiece! Silver jingle bells rest on a mound of faux snow in modern crystal mini vases, and a 3-D glittery star work to complete the centerpiece.

The buffet decor mimics that of the dining table with snowy faux greenery, pine cones, more jingle bells, and lots of sparkle. The glass Parisian decanter is filled with “snow” and greenery, and a length of brown satin ribbon literally “ties” the dining room in with decor in the foyer.

A few other Christmas tablescapes on this site include:
Celebrate the Season
Christmas in the Woods
“Kaleidoscope Christmas”
“Merry & Bright – Multi-Color Christmas”
“Christmas Through the Red Door”
“Life Is A Cabaret – New Year’s Eve”
Waking Up to Christmas – Bedroom Decor
Black, White & Red All Over Christmas
Christmas 2012 – Red, Black & Silver
Checkered Christmas
Pink & Purple Chocolate Christmas
Sugar High Payback
Contemporary Christmas
Gentlemen’s Winter Retreat
Woodland Men’s Tablescape
Cranberry Christmas
Cranberry Christmas Squared
Get Me To the Church On Time
Christmas Progressive Dinner
White Hot
Winter Brunch
Really Red Christmas
Roman Holiday
Cardinal Christmas
Frosty the Snowman
March of the Penguins
Winter Cardinal
Ideas for Throwing a Winter Dessert Party
Christmas Fiesta
Over the River and Through the Woods
Black Friday Luncheon
Noel Progressive Dinner
Old-Fashioned Red & Green Christmas
Timberland Christmas
Christmas Coffee
Warm Metal Christmas
Tuscan Holiday

Dinner For the Ladies In Waiting

DINNER FOR THE LADIES IN WAITING
(a re-post from September 2010)

A cozy dinner for six to thank the bridesmaids for their friendship and support is a fancy affair. With so many flourishing young careers in motion, an intimate dinner was more convenient for all than a traditional bridal luncheon.
A white cotton linen is covered with a silver organza overlay for just the slightest bit of shimmer. Silver chargers are topped with Noritake “Whitebrook” dinner, salad and dessert plates with a bread plate to the left. Heirloom flatware and Mikasa “Jamestown Platinum” water and wine glasses round out the look. The silver-on-silver design organza napkins have a simple silver napkin ring. Silver candlesticks hold simple white tapers.
The Noritake china has a delicate, very “wedding-like” white-on-white design.
The flowers, arranged in a cut crystal rose bowl, add color, texture and just the slightest bit of fragrance. This bouquet is composed mainly of lilies, hydrangea, Queen Anne’s lace, and roses.
 Flutes filled with champagne are presented in a petal-filled silver gallery tray. The petals scattered are a repeat of flowers found in the table florals.
Cute individual luncheon-sized cakes are perfect for the occasion!

Rhapsody In Blue

RHAPSODY IN BLUE
(a re-post from September 2010)

I treated a couple to a post-nuptial luncheon in our home to celebrate their union. A smattering of “diamonds” brings glitz & sparkle to the wedding tablescape.

 Bursts of bright green play nicely off the bride’s chosen colors of French blue & white. Granny Smith apples and juicy green grapes are surrounded by green button mums, spider mums, pink waxflower, Queen Anne’s lace, viburnum, and fragrant Stargazer lilies all spilling from a silver pedestal bowl. The main piece is flanked with green grapes atop simple silver pedestals.

 Each lady’s place setting is marked with an oversized “diamond” napkin ring. The gentlemen have simple “wedding bands” of silver. Two chargers – one rhinestone-rimmed and the other a plain silver – mimic the differences in the men’s and ladies’ place settings. The scrolled-edge cream-colored plates are from TJ Maxx, and the quilted table runner and napkins are from Z Gallerie.

  Although a simple fare is served (pecan-chicken salad on croissant, honey-dipped fruit on a skewer, assorted cheese slices and kettle chips with strawberry shortcake for dessert), the tablescape still has a decidedly regal feel about it.

Run For the Roses

RUN FOR THE ROSES
(a re-post from May of 2010)

Nearly every fine home in Louisville hosts a party to celebrate the Kentucky Derby. It’s a time to bring out the heirloom china and serve wonderful food amidst fresh red roses galore. Who says a gal with a Midwestern accent and a slightly less generous budget can’t join the fun?

 

This wooden showhorse makes the perfect backdrop in the dining room. (Visit Kentucky Derby Buffet  and Celebrating Longview Farm to see him on a Derby Buffet table as a centerpiece and Carousel Colors to see him used for a Springtime decorating accessory!

 

 

Each place setting consists of a beaded silver charger with platinum-rimmed Noritake “Spectrum” china, a monogrammed linen napkin, heirloom flatware (with rose detailing), Longchamps crystal, an authentic silver julep cup, and…for a bit of whimsy in an otherwise staid & traditional setting…a real horseshoe! If you use horseshoes atop fabric, be sure to wash them thoroughly in hot, soapy water then dry with a soft cloth. Allow to air dry for at least 2 hours to assure all moisture has evaporated so as not to rust and stain. These horseshoes were surprisingly affordable at just $2.39 lb. That’s quite a bargain!

 

 

 

Menus created using white vellum over red cardstock have a craft store red rose affixed to the top. At the bottom of each menu is fun Derby trivia for guests to share during dinner. And no respectable Southerner’s derby dinner table is complete without sweet tea, cheese grits, hot biscuits, and mint juleps served in a traditional cup! (Get the recipe for deliciously rich, traditional, Southern homemade pound cake HERE.)

 

Rich, red roses are the focus of the centerpiece, buffet and foyer florals. Click HERE and scroll down to Tip #39 for a tutorial on fluffing fresh roses to get them looking nice and full.

 

A pair of beautiful show horse figurines from Hobby Lobby flank the center trophy of roses. I created the traditional “garland of roses” using red satin ribbon and rosettes like those used on the menus. (The real garland for the winning horse, of course, has more than 400 red roses!

 

Hat collage
  My Mom in her pink Derby chapeau, and me in blue!
More tablescapes on this site using roses that would be great for Kentucky Derby:
Derby Day Dining
Kentucky Derby Buffet
Roses in October
Show Me State Dinner
Should Have Put A Ring On It
88 Years & 88 Keys
Tablescapes using roses in adaptable colors include:
Celebrating 85 Years of Fabulous
Roses In October

 

Pretty In Pink (a re-post from April of 2010)

My parents are very special to me, and I snatch every opportunity to celebrate them. In April of 2010 I hosted a good old-fashioned ladies’ luncheon for my Mom and a few of her closest friends.


The woman of the hour/birthday girl, Sen. Yvonne S. Wilson, a.k.a. Mom!

 

Hustle and bustle to create an inviting surprise for the guests with a pink strawberry sangria service on a petal-filled silver gallery tray in the foyer.

 

 

The guest of honor makes her entrance!

 

The Ladies’ Luncheon honoring my Mother’s 81st birthday had a tablescape reminiscent of childhood fantasies. A 12-ft. table placed in the living room maximizes space and takes advantage of south-facing windows that catch the afternoon sun. A setup such as this would also work very well for a Mother’s Day brunch/luncheon, a pink & white wedding, or a Breast Cancer Awareness Month luncheon.

 

The menus were created on my home computer, cut and affixed to colorful cardstock, then finished with a simple silk rosebud from a craft store. The monogram watermark on the menu pays tribute to the honoree.

 

My Mom is a “super shopper” who loves snappy shoes and handbags!!! I chose these pewter shoe and handbag place card holders for that reason. My Grandmother used to say, “The devil is in the details.”

 

A “girlie” yet sophisticated place setting is made easy with a mix of traditional & contemporary pieces. Heirloom flatware completes the essentials. The Maxcera “Victorian Toile Rose” luncheon plates – a contemporary square – are adorned in traditional Victorian roses. White “doily” plates from Pier 1 are just perfect for dessert! Silver pew cones (often used for weddings) are brought into service as eye-catching and unusual napkin holders. (Also used for “A Dorothy By Any Other Name“.)  The striped pink/green/yellow/white cotton placemats from Pier 1 are reversible. (See the other side at “Days of Wine & Roses“.)

 

 

The “devil in the details” shows up again in each cup that bears the graceful image of a rose just inside the lip.

 

 

Branches dotted with cheerful cherry blossoms (from Costco of all places!) add height to the spring tablescape without blocking the view from across the table. Decorating with cherry blossoms is a colorful nod to the spring season. Petite bouquets of pink roses and fresh eucalyptus in crystal vases complement the tablescape’s motif, add texture and subtle fragrance, and make a nice take home treat.

 

Keeping with the overall color scheme of the tablescape, the ladies sipped pink sparkling lemonade adorned with a fresh strawberry. A thin slice of lemon in each water glass adds color.

 

 

 

I’m no gourmet cook, but I think food should complement the setting and vice versa. Finishing off the meal is a 6-inch, four-layer, luncheon size pink-tinted vanilla-almond cake with a crown of frothy white. The  cake is adorned with fresh strawberries. Fanned strawberries and fresh lemon leaves sent by a California friend accessorize each plate. Last but not least, a choice of vanilla or strawberry ice cream served up in a miniature martini glass.

 

Serving  coffee and/or tea with dessert is an age-old custom. Here the pink & white Silvestri “Sculpted Rose” tea service is ramped up with the addition of fragrant pink rose petals arranged on an heirloom silver tray.

 

Front Row (l to r): Wilhelmina Stewart, Delia Young (now deceased, she is the lady who encouraged me to start my blog), Sen. Yvonne S. Wilson, and Rosemary Lowe. Back Row (l to r): Alycia Nichols, Irene Watson, Thelma Crawford, Rep. Shalon “Kiki” Curls, and Liz Wilson.

The honoree, guests, and hostess!

Other pretty pink tablescapes on this site include:
Peaceful Peonies
Days of Wine & Roses
Peonies & Pearls
Chocolate Traditional
Platinum & Pink Valentine
Blushing Bridal Shower
Easter Floral
Easter Bloom
Pink Plaid & Posies
All A’Bloom In Pink For Spring
Princess Pink Birthday Dinner
Showered In Pink
Easter In Pink & Grey
French Poodle
Peony Power
Fairy Princess Party
Fairy Tale Wedding Shower
Blurred Lines With Shades of Pink
Tea Roses
Coming Up Roses

Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Pretty In Pink, Wicked In Spurs – Breast Cancer Awareness
Bald Is Beautiful – Breast Cancer Awareness
Pink & Purple Chocolate Christmas