Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Celebrating Mom’s 89th Birthday Gatsby Style

While recuperating from my most recent spine surgery, I planned a 1920s/Gatsby-style ladies luncheon to celebrate my Mom’s 89th birthday. (Doesn’t she look beautiful??? Don’t tell me this chick “Ain’t Misbehavin'”!!!) A grand luncheon in her honor has become sort of a tradition (when I’m healthy!) since her 2011 retirement from the Missouri Senate, and it’s always a delightful challenge to come up with a theme that both she and her guests will enjoy. (Check out 88 Years & 88 Keys, Celebrating 85 Years of Fabulous, Pretty In Pink, Grazin’ in the Grass.) This year’s inspiration came from a flapper bar towel my friend/neighbor, Barbara, gifted me while I was convalescing. Mom was born in the March preceding the start of the Great Depression in 1929, and I thought it would be a fun idea to travel back in time to explore the good things about that (infamous) year!
(This post is super photo heavy, but I pay close attention to the “cat’s particulars” aka details and want to share each and every nuance with you!)

 

Setting the mood from the very start was an important part of the planning. The invitations I created on my desktop had the familiar art deco design representative of the 1920s. Along with the invitations was an insert suggesting accessories to help the ladies get “all dolled up” for the occasion. Notice the flapper lady I put in the return address corner and the Lena Horne stamps!!!

 

A pair of “V.I.P. Entrance” signs in 1920s black and gold art deco style flanked the doorway, greeting guests as they approached the porch. Music from the decadent era rang out as it would outside a bustling nightclub, courtesy of a Google Mini.

 

The computer-generated, sequin-backed sign on the front door welcomes guests to the fictional “Gold Sequin” speakeasy.

 

My friend/neighbor, Jane, was such a sexy, gracious (and convincing!) “cigarette girl” hawking bubble gum cigars and candy cigarettes I ordered from the Blair Candy Co.

 

Our modest entry hall sets the tone for thumbing our noses to Prohibition with the oversized champagne flutes! They’re filled with tiny crystals. (Crystals…Cristál…the champagne…get it?) On the walls are cute Rosanna cocktail plates I bought a few years ago for cocktail parties that were first used for “Hooray for Vodka!” back in 2013! (Smaller plates of this same design were used to serve the birthday cake!)

 

The primary bar with specialty drinks (potent Mary Pickfords and chocolate martinis that were really a couple of “quilts”!) was set up in the library, although guests were invited to get whatever they may want from any of the other 3 bars on the main floor.  (Tip: Make up pitchers of these drinks and then just have the bartender shake small portions with ice to serve!) The bar was covered with a gold crinkle taffeta tablecloth and black sequin table runner from YourChairCovers.com. The towel that inspired this theme reads “You can’t regret what you don’t remember” and jokingly refers to the temporary amnesia caused by one of the meds I was taking, prominently hangs in the front. We borrowed cocktail artwork from the basement decor to further lend to the bar atmosphere. The ostrich feather trimmed lamp (’cause that’s how I roll!) is borrowed from my dressing room, and the glass of brandy and “burning” cigarette (both fake) further lent to the speakeasy theme. The two booze hounds  in the above pics…just pitiful!!! 🙂

 

We transformed the family room into a 1920s era fine dining establishment complete with a 1920s music playlist in the background. It didn’t take long for me to know what linens I’d use from my stash. The palette of the Gatsby era was gold, black & white. I layered floor-length (90″x132″ for 6’x30″ folding tables) black linens from LinenTablecloth.com with gold sequin runners from YourChairCovers.com. The chairs clean up nicely with gold stretch leather-look covers (no longer available where I bought them, but I’ve seen them at TableclothsFactory.com) with black spandex sashes and sparkly gold slips (YourChairCovers.com).

 

I ordered 100 white ostrich feathers to create these lush (and surprisingly easy!) centerpieces. The glass tower vases are filled with odd-sized bulk “pearls” from Hobby Lobby and topped with a beautiful dangling bobeche affixed with a bit of Cling® Floral Adhesive to avoid catastrophe. The extended centerpiece is filled in with gold mercury glass votives with LED tealights, black  ceramic pieces (again, borrowed from my dressing room), and cabaret lamps created with crystal candlesticks, bobeches, and white silk shades.

 

The place setting decision was remarkably simple. As a restaurant might use, I opted for all white from the ceramic charger to the B. Smith luncheon plate to the Pier 1 “White Poppy” salad bowl. The “Graham” matte gold flatware is from Target, and the Longchamps stemware is accompanied by individual bottles of non-alcoholic Martinelli’s sparkling cider for the toast. Faux pearl napkin rings cinch simply folded black napkins. The menus layered in white, black, and gold sequin-covered cardstock from Hobby Lobby were created on my desktop using Microsoft® Word. (That sequin cardstock is no joke to cut!!!) The pearl embellishment on the menus came from a pair of summer sandals I broke! The meal served included the Louisville, Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich, a late night/early morning diner staple back in the 1920s to soak up the liquor enjoy after a night out of unabandoned carousing. Water and lemonade bottles were placed on both sides of the dining table.

 

Other special touches around this room included another ostrich feather lamp I created using a crystal candlestick, an abundance of paper rosettes (Michaels) mixed with oversized champagne glasses of crystals and pearls, and an extra tall martini glass (Hobby Lobby) that I placed in a large flat glass bowl to give it girth. Final touch: notice a muted television in the background playing “The Great Gatsby” movie!!!

 

My sister makes fun fortune cookies for all occasions, these with art deco-style fabric. While the take-home fortune cookies were a demure little thank you to the guests, I asked her to create some funny, slightly suggestive ones for us to play the fortune cookie game “In Bed”. Ever heard of it? Each guest opens their cookie and reads the fortune aloud followed by the words “in bed.” As the pictures show, this game got lots of laughs!!!

 

Check out this cake created by my longtime friend, Patrick Snuffer. I provided him with an almost childlike sketch using various elements I’d seen around the Internet, and voilà! A delicious art deco cake with a black ostrich feather! To the left of the cake are the mini martini glasses in which ice cream (choice of 4!!!) was served. The miniature gold spoons are from Michaels.

 

The candy bar in the dining room was one of my favorite elements to create! I researched candies and gums that were popular in the 1920s and then went on the hunt. The result: a favor bar laden with 22 flavor treats served up in various size martini and pilsner glasses!!! Guests scooped up what they wanted into favor bags with black, gold and/or white twist ties displayed in my Limoges swan salt & pepper cellars. The table is covered in another gold crinkle taffeta cloth with a black sequin runner. The gold painted manzanita “trees” just seemed to work with the decor, especially dressed in large hanging crystals. My generous neighbor provided the sequined dress for the dress form, and I finished it off with a few ostrich feathers, a feather boa, and all the remaining pearl necklaces from my jewelry collection!

 

The dining room was “fun central” with the candy bar AND a “photo booth” where guests could take selfies or have their photo taken. We simply took the existing artwork off the wall and replaced it with oversized gold and black paper rosettes (Michaels). I hung a huge paper rosette over the mirror and draped it with crystal garland. The photo prop table beneath was laden with vintage accessories (thanks, Dee!) and fake cocktails. (Notice I was a good girl and stayed in little black flats instead of the gorgeous T-strap heels I really wanted to wear!) Fun/Silly pics of guests at the photo booth and around the house are at the very end of the post. Such fun!!!

 

Without question this was one of the most fun birthday parties I’ve ever put together in my Mom’s honor!!! My sister, Berishia, and I both love our Mom so much, and we are blessed to have had her in our lives for all these years.

 

MOST DEFINITELY MISBEHAVIN’!!!

 

Special, HUGE thanks to: my friend/neighbor, Jane, for being the best cigarette girl a flapper could ask for; my friend/neighbor, Barbara, for mixing up those insanely potent drinks, whipping up a mean Mornay sauce for the Kentucky Hot Browns, and helping out so much in the kitchen; Barbara’s helpful husband, Lynn, for graciously taking time away from college basketball to take our group photo; my dear friend, Patrick, for creating such an extraordinary cake; my cousin, Dee, for all the props she contributed for the photo booth and for doing such a fabulous job on Mom’s makeup; my sister, Berishia, for the fortune cookies; my best friend of nearly 55 years, Sheri, for her precision serving skills and so many great photos despite the overcast skies, and; my husband, Ramon, for all the photos he took, his bartending prowess, being such an all-round good sport, and PAYING FOR THIS!!! 😉

Now…on to the fun guest pics with captions chock full of 1920s Flapper/ Gangster Slang. (The Flapper Slang Guide, Slang of the 1920s, Molls & Dolls Slang Dictionary) Enjoy!

My cousin, Dee, and I always take pictures of us rough housing. Here we are trying to put each other in a “deep sleep.” A whole new meaning to “clutching your pearls”!!! Somebody call the “coppers”!

Wow! Here’s a real “sheba”! Barbara was the ultimate flapper girl, ready to have a great time in her sparkly black dress!

Mom and her forever baby sister, Vivienne, who I call Aunt Bean Bean Dancing Machine!

Here’s a couple of “swell dames”: Mom and friend/LINK sister, Shirley Thaw.

Mom and friend/LIncoln High School classmate from the Class of 1946/”canary”, Geneva Price

Mom and friend/Delta sorority sister, Dr. Susan Wilson. Check out those “gams”!

Mom and friend, Amy Heithoff-Dominguez, lookin’ like “the cat’s meow”!

Mom and friend/Delta sorority sister/education colleague, Dr. Marjorie Williams. That’s some “dish”!

Mom and friend/LINK sister, Barbara Graham, in her “glad rags” looking “air tight.”

Mom and my good friend & neighbor, Barbara Alsup. Quite the “billboard” that Barbara!

Mom and her friend/neighbor/fellow church member, Virginia Jones, who looks like a real “floorflusher”!

Mom and her niece/my arch nemesis cousin, Dee Evans, who’s had a little too much “giggle water.”

“Jeepers Creepers”! It’s Mom and her longtime family friend from the neighborhood (Leeds) where they grew up, Kimberly Randolph!

Mom and her son-in-law/my husband, the very dapper Dr. Ramon Nichols. Hubba hubba…what a “sheik”!!!

Well, look who stopped by to say hello and have her picture taken with the birthday girl! It’s little Ava Rutherford with her own flapper boa!!!

Ramon and me. Gosh, he looked so handsome in that outfit!!!!!!!!!!!! A real “brooksy” in those snazzy “dog kennels”!!! Me…post-op flat shoes! 😦

These “dolls” came ready to party! Barbara Graham (in a coat I really wanted to steal!) and Amy Heithoff-Dominguez (with a handbag to die for!)

Our resident bootlegger, Bob Rutherford, had to come check on his moll, Jane, and have a cigar!

Mom looked like the queen she is!

 

What a “babe”! Mom wears a 1920s-inspired gown designed and created by her granddaughter/my niece, Yvonne Chamberlain, for her to wear to the Governor’s Ball about 10 years ago. She still looks fabulous in it!!!

Even a “croaker” has to get his nutrition!

A couple of snappy “sips”: My “tomato” cousin, Dee Evans, and the flapper with the sexy “stilts”, Susan Wilson.

This is the look of PURE JOY!!! I absolutely adore this picture!!!

This outfit is absolutely the “duck’s quack”!!!

I’m so proud of my Mom!!!

A trio of real “lookers”: Barbara Alsup, me, and Sheri Grant

Check out these “kittens”: Barbara Graham, Shirley Thaw, Susan Wilson, and Dee Evans

Ripe and ready “hoppers”: Shirley Thaw, Susan Wilson, Dee Evans

I’m joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday this week. Check her out for a wealth of Spring and Easter ideas!

My friend, Debbie, at Debbee’s Buzz has another wonderful theme party you might like. Check out this fabulous Alice In Wonderland invitation!!!

Better Late Than Never, Pt. II – Christmas 2016 in the Dining Room

This is Installment #2 of 4 from a very late reveal of Christmas decor around our home in 2016. The first installment peeped around the entry hall and library. This time we move into the dining room.

I like to use black in Christmas decorating because it’s a wonderful neutral that really showcases gemstone colors and brilliant metals. I draped this table with a 90″x132″ black diamond pintuck tablecloth from LinenTablecloth.com  that skims the floor.

 

 

The centerpiece is a flat woven basket from Tuesday Morning filled with mounds of red and gold glass ornaments in varying sizes to lend depth and dimension. Frolicking amidst the ornaments are two playful gold reindeer with beaded antlers from Pier 1. (The ones they’re selling this year are similar to these, but cooler with little red scarves!) A smattering of gold mercury glass chargers complete the centerpiece.

 

 

 

 

Gold glass chargers sit beneath Ciroa gold-rimmed black & white buffalo check bone china dinner plates. Austere white cotton napkins are cinched with ornamental red berry picks from Hobby Lobby twisted to create a napkin ring. (I used this same technique for “Christmas Progressive Dinner” on a much different table.) The pattern of the Longchamps crystal complements that of the dinner plates. A red and gold English cracker is set alongside each place setting for fun after dinner. (Our family has TOO MUCH fun with them!)

 

 

 

On the buffet behind the dining table is another flat basket loaded with spirits for guests to help themselves at will. A creamy white ironstone pitcher filled with red berry picks from Hobby Lobby (the same as used for the napkin rings) dresses it up a bit. On each side are painted gold manzanita “trees” from LinenTablecloth.com that I ordered on a whim. (“On a whim” means when I was taking medication that had me doing weird things that I don’t even remember doing!!! Still…not a bad purchase!) In front of those sit shiny red mercury glass lidded canisters clad in black & white gingham ribbon bows. The gilded bay leaf wreath on the mirror is uplit at night.

 

 

The tea/bar cart is ready to serve after dinner coffee and/or libations by way of a Grace’s Teaware white lattice coffee set accented with Ciroa plates on a silver tiered stand. A metal champagne bucket from Home Goods brims with gold glass ornaments.

 

The wood & metal sconces hold more of the Ciroa plates with a shiny red ornament hoisted in front to draw the eye up.

 

The china cabinet in the opposite corner of the room is topped with more metal wine/champagne cooling vessels. The center one is filled to capacity with bright red glass ornaments to complement the table centerpiece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, the skinny tree in the window with a fun stovepipe hat topper! (See another tree topped with a stovepipe hat at  Christmas 2012 – Red, Black & Silver.) A load of ornaments on the tree include more stovepipe hats (Dollar Tree), red lanterns (Walmart), red berry picks (Hobby Lobby), frosted pine cones and acrylic snowflakes, grinning snowmen and twists of black & white check ribbon. (Other tablescapes using these snowmen are Black, White & Red All Over Christmas Tablescape, Checkered Christmas, and Frosty the Snowman.) Beneath the tree are piles of snowflakes, snowballs, and baskets of pine cones with black lanterns lit up for the season.

That about does it for the 2016 dining room. I’ll be back in a couple of days with pics from the family room that I hope you’ll enjoy. Meanwhile, there is LOTS of other Christmas inspiration on this site. Just type in the word Christmas under Categories on the right-hand sidebar to hit the jackpot!

I’ll be joining Susan later this week for Tablescape Thursday as well as Sandra & Chloe for Celebrate Your Story and Linda for her Dishing It & Digging It Link Party! Come on along and get inspired!!!

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!

 

Warm Colors of Fall

Fall is my favorite time of year, and I’ve had fun this year exploring some non-traditional colors and settings. I’d like to settle in here for a moment with a more traditional, “dressy casual” setting for a fall table that incorporates a lot of the time-honored, warmer colors of red, green, gold and chocolate brown.

 

This is the recreation of a tablescape I created for a recent presentation to a local women’s group. Here, and for that presentation, I started with a chocolate brown crinkle tablecloth. For a more casual look, however, no tablecloth necessary. I love a bare wood table! The place settings are lined up on the sides only to allow the runner pattern – an integral part of the table design – to fully show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The elements on this table are a wonderful mix of colors that represent the fall season: Gold square chargers from World Market are topped with a deep green Home Essentials & Beyond “Montclair Collection” square plate with a snazzy floral design from Home Goods and a chocolate brown oak leaf soup bowl from Pier 1 (also seen here).  (Detail Note: I used these plates – also seen here –  because the whimsical scroll mimicked the flair on the ends of the table runner.) Casually lounging in the bowl is a multi-hued cotton napkin from Pier 1 cinched with a Pier 1 amber and umber crystal napkin ring that adds just a touch of glitz. The stemware is an easy mix of an inexpensive green stem from Dollar Tree and fabulous amber goblet from Z Gallerie.

 

 

 

 

The tablescape was built around the colors of this fall runner I found a couple of years ago at TJ Maxx. To go with oak leaves and cattails for the centerpiece somehow seemed a bit prosaic, so instead the etched gold ceramic vases hold bunches of fiery red (faux) boxwood branches. To pick up on the other colors in the runner pattern, I added candle ring wreaths of gold, green and red to the base of the round outer vases. The taller, squared center vase includes flowing foliage and a couple of short curly willow branches for additional height.

 

 

A streamlined glitter gold tray on the buffet holds champagne glasses and a single gold mercury glass votive. When the table centerpiece is very busy, often best to keep the surroundings simple…unless you’re going for a really over-the-top look, of course!

Other traditional fall tablescapes for casual entertaining on this site include:
Dinner With Friends – Gumbo Dinner Party
September Wine
Pumpkins & Peacocks
Autumn Blues
Pears & Pine Cones
September Harvest Breakfast
Simply Bittersweet
Ap-pear-ently Autumn
Casual Fall Harvest Dinner
Italian Honeysuckle
Quick & Casual Fall Dinner
Autumn In Cactus Country
Sunflower Simple
Most Egg-cellent Fall Breakfast
Copper Zen
Serape High Style
Pheasants & Pumpkins

I’m joining Susan’s Tablescape Thursday bunch again this week. Slide on over there to see lots more ideas from a lot of talented tablescapers from all over the planet!

Casablanca Cool

Good grief! It is actually cooler in Casablanca than in the Kansas City area right now!!! Not officially summer yet here, and the temperatures are hovering in the 90°-93° range for several days straight! Since I won’t be boarding a plane to that cooler destination in Morocco, I created a dining environment that can take me there in spirit.
(When you reach the bottom of this post, see who I DID travel to see!!!)

 

 

Our deck hosts a 6-ft. table covered in an easy care 90″x132″ gold crinkle taffeta tablecloth from YourChairCovers.com. A deep red beaded organza runner adds visual interest and helps to break up the expanse of gold color. I didn’t include chairs for this demonstration, but something natural like bamboo or wicker would look great!

 

 

 

Cooling turquoise blue Bormioli Rocco Inca glass chargers anchor each place setting. (These beautiful chargers were also used in Ocean Blue -Starfish & Seashells.) Amber dinner plates from Pier 1 add another layer of color. The final piece is a glass faux mercury-lined sorbet from World Market, a different color at each setting. See how the blue sky reflected in the glass resembles a swimming pool or ocean? Cooling and soothing!

 

 

Glassware from Pier 1 includes a deep purple stem for wine (purchased 12 years ago!), a water glass with a different jewel tone at the bottom at each place setting, and a lovely shot glass, both from Home Goods. Each has  a beautiful gold pattern – noted in this last picture – that ties the trio together.

 

Silky polyester napkins are cinched at the waist with red gemstone-flecked gold napkin rings.

 

I created a lush high/low centerpiece made up of multiple glass and metal elements.

 

 

I love these muted gold Casablanca Lanterns from Z Gallerie! I bought them in two sizes a few years back. I’m not sure if they still have them, but I’ve seen similar ones in other stores.

 

These sleek hot pink glass vases are from Hobby Lobby. I embellished them with amber glass tassels and filled them with palm fronds.

 

 

I have been waiting for years to use these multicolored cylindrical candle holders!!! I bought them on closeout in the large and small sizes at Gordman’s 7 or 8 years ago with a tablescape like this in mind.

 

These fun fabric votive holders are scattered on the table to add a little extra color, texture, and light.

 

 

 

 

To add to the ambience, I hung multicolored miniature chandeliers among the existing bistro lights on the deck overhang. In the center is a gathered bundle of colored ribbon first used in a Christmas setting some years ago to decorate a bar cart. The ribbon adds movement and texture as it sways in the summer breeze.

 

A small table off to the side, covered in a Pier 1 fringed and beaded throw, serves as a mini bar. (To see this throw used in an autumn setting, visit Morocco for Two on this site.)

 

 

 

 

A melange of colorful shot glasses line up on a gold melamine tray. (To see another appearance by these cute little shot glasses, visit Cinco de Mayo 2013 on this site.) For a little drama, height and fragrance, I added a martini glass filled to the rim with whole star anise. Additional shot glasses strewn with baby bracelets (first used as napkin rings in Diwali My Way) add a little more flair.

 

Here, a smaller version of the gold Casablanca Lantern from Z Gallerie lights guests’ way around the bar.

 

Colorful, fragrant lemons and oranges piled high in a gold glass vase with a pattern very much like that of the dining table linen.

 

A red silk throw lie beneath colorful pillows piled on a bench.

 

This tablescape in my head for a LONG time!!! I’m glad to have finally been able to bring it to you! Thanks so much for stopping in!

 

While attending my husband’s med school reunion, I FINALLY got to visit with blog buddy DIANNE of Dianne’s Creative Table!!! One of the most FUN, TALENTED, CREATIVE, INTERESTING, HOSPITABLE, and BEAUTIFUL souls in this world! We hit up an estate sale, then shopped, lunched, and shopped some more in historic downtown Franklin, TN, before visiting her gorgeous home.
Thank you so much for your incredible Southern hospitality, Dianne!!!

Dianne & Alycia

For more tablescapes with lots of bright, energetic color on this site:
Cupcake Colors
Summer Fruits & Penny-farthings
Hot Fun in the Summertime!
Butterfly Kaleidoscope
Diwali My Way
Livin’ la Vida Loca
Flamingos In Paradise
Give Peace A Chance Retro Tablescape
Peacock Pizzazz
Tropicana
Daisy Crazy
Hot Tropical

Summer Breeze
Caribbean Queen

Quote - If you live for people's acceptance, you will die from their rejection

 

Merry & Bright – Multi-Color Christmas

Over the next few days I will present 3 creations that use many of the same elements but have a different feel and target audience. We often worry about buying “too much stuff” (although that concept is TOTALLY foreign to the likes of me! 😉 ) and where to store it all. These next 3 posts will demonstrate how you can easily milk multiple tablescapes out of a few key pieces. This is, after all, a teaching blog…and I hope you’re able to glean some good ideas from this ongoing demonstration.
(Click on any photo once& then again to see details up close.)

INSPIRATION: A big bunch of multi-colored shiny metal doo-hickeys purchased at Pier 1 six or seven years ago.

INSPIRATION: A big bunch of multi-colored shiny metal doo-hickeys purchased at Pier 1 six or seven years ago.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Merry & Bright Multi-Color Christmas: Full dining roomThe use of multiple bright colors was a huge thing “back in the day.” The look kind of fell out of vogue 20+ years or so ago when white on white became the new craze. As usual, I’m bucking the system in favor of nostalgia with this tablescape that incorporates every color in the rainbow/Pantone color wheel! 🙂

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Merry & Bright Multi-Color Christmas: Full table lengthwise

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Merry & Bright Multi-Color Christmas: Full table lengthwiseThe foundation of this table that was used as a teaching tool in my most recent “Art of Tablescaping” class is a bright red 90″ x 132″ tablecloth from LinenTablecloth.com. Nothing says Christmas like the color red, and I love this as an anchor color for the overall look.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Merry & Bright Multi-Color Christmas: Place setting

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Merry & Bright Multi-Color Christmas: china rim shot, flatware, napkin treatment

Oh, how I love to use gold at Christmastime! The use of a gold acrylic charger (Old Time Pottery), gold-tone flatware, and beautiful American Atelier “Florentine Gold Scroll” china knocks a little wind out of brightly-colored whimsy’s sails. It dresses the table up a bit, gives it a little refinement while still letting the use of color take center stage. The napkin treatment is simply a 20″ x 20″ purple napkin from LinenTablecloth.com dressed with a contrasting red satin ribbon. See how the color invades the gold’s space but they still play nicely together?

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Merry & Bright Multi-Color Christmas: Stemware trio

Someone once asked me, “Why all the stemware on the table?” Well, I’ll give you the two-fold short answer on that one: I like to serve water (palate cleanser), some sort of tea or lemonade, and often a nice wine or champagne (because cocktail hour is never quite long enough) AND they just look so darn good!!! 🙂 The more sparkle, the better as captured here with deep gemstone colors juxtaposed against milky white with shiny gold detailing. The colored stems are from Pier 1 (9-10 years ago) and my Mom gave me the gorgeous white goblets that she had since the 1970s.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Merry & Bright Multi-Color Christmas: Gold metal place card holderI bought these neat gold metal Christmas tree place card holders a number of years ago at a wholesale clearance sale. See how the multi-colored sparklies look like lights? I knew one day these would fit right in with a table’s decor!

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Merry & Bright Multi-Color Christmas: Centerpiece elements

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Merry & Bright Multi-Color Christmas: Pitcher designI have about 40 of these sparkly, jingly, wobbly metal sprigs of pure joy. For an upscale look, I simply bunched them together in the pitcher that matches the goblets. This is a good example of how using things en masse can add style. (Think how baby’s breath looks all limp and sad when there are only a couple of stems, but how it comes alive when used in a burst of snowy, showy goodness! Click HERE, HEREor HERE to see examples on this site of what I mean.) To bring the same show of color down closer to the table surface, I filled bowls with multi-colored Christmas balls. Simple, inexpensive.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Merry & Bright Multi-Color Christmas: Gold mercury glass votive holdersTo bring a little more shimmer to the table, gold mercury glass votive holders from The Village Gardens in Blue Springs, MO.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Merry & Bright Multi-Color Christmas: Buffet decor

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Merry & Bright Multi-Color Christmas: Coffee service tray

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Merry & Bright Multi-Color Christmas: Gold metal Christmas treesI always like to dress the buffet in decor that works with the table. I cannot for the life of me remember where I bought these contemporary gold metal trees, but I love ’em! Again, see how the sparkly adornments resemble lights on the tree. I chose these not only because of the color, but also because of the modern form. They are the perfect counterpart to the inspiration pieces!!! The American Atelier “Florentine Scroll” coffee service is set up on a lacquered gold tray from Pier 1.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Merry & Bright Multi-Color Christmas: Colored mercury glass votive holdersThe votive holders on the buffet boast beautiful, rich colors with a mercury glass lining and are from World Market 2 years ago. These photos don’t do adequate justice. The light reflected from these is spectacular!

I’ll be back in a few days with the 2nd in this series!

If you’d like to see additional Christmas tablescape ideas on this site:
Christmas Through the Red Door
Pink & Purple Chocolate Christmas
Black Friday Luncheon Tablescape
Winter Dinner
Contemporary Christmas: Fire & Ice
Celebrating the Season
Sugar High Payback
Cranberry Christmas
Cranberry Christmas Squared
Checkered Christmas – A Snowman Theme
Get Me To the Church On Time
Christmas Progressive Dinner 2011
Black, White & Red All Over Christmas
Frosty the Snowman
Warm Metal Christmas
Winter Brunch
After the Hunt – Gentlemen’s Winter Retreat
plus NINE additional posts on a single page under the “WINTER” tab!!!

Don’t forget to visit Cuisine Kathleen’s weekly blog party “Let’s Dish!” and Susan’s “Tablescape Thursday” to get ideas from lots of other very talented bloggers from all around the globe!

Mardi Gras Lite

Fat Tuesday in celebration of Mardi Gras 2012 is just about a week away now!!! Problem is, the term “Fat Tuesday” probably has my photograph posted next to it on Wikipedia. I have been bad, bad, bad, bad, bad the last……oh, let’s say 10 years to be honest. I quit exercising every day but continued to shovel in the food and drink despite the ever-expanding hips, thighs, belly and “Oprah arms” waving back at me in the mirror.

This year, instead of the tower of fried catfish, vat of jambalaya, shrimp étouffé, hush puppies, King’s cake and hurricanes I’ve routinely enjoyed in the past, I’m pledging to lighten up. To that end, I have also created a Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras tablescape “lite”…an upscale, sophisticated, pared down version of the more decadent Mardi Gras style to which I am accustomed and hold so dear.

The traditional hues of purple, green, and gold will still be there in all their glory…just not as over-the top in their presentation. This table might work for those who want the essence of Mardi Gras without the whole “Swing from the balcony and show me your —-!!!” feel. 🙂 (In-laws, bosses or clergy invited for dinner might appreciate the less bawdy tone of it!)

I’ve never used a royal purple table linen for any occasion, but this year it lands on the table as the base of the tablescape. Dual chargers in a gold square and purple cobblestone round cradle a clear glass dinner plate and green glass salad plate, thus incorporating all the traditional colors.

A royal purple cotton napkin is cinched with a flirty bangle napkin ring from Bed Bath & Beyond.

Goldtone flatware works well with the place setting.

I was so pleased to see that I had stemware of a similar shape in purple (TJ Maxx), green (Dollar Tree), and gold (World Market).

I’m going to give credit where it’s due. It was totally my husband’s -who fancies himself “The Tablescape Whisperer” – idea to include the long strands of beads. I resisted, thinking it would be way too cliché to have bundles of them down the center of the table. Plus, I whined, it will take away from the clean lines! We compromised, and I ended up arranging them in this quieter “grid” that frames each place setting as well as the centerpiece elements. Purple, green, and gold glass vases hold simply-arranged royal purple calla lilies. Finishing out the centerpiece are clusters of Mardi Gras “disco balls” that catch the light.


The buffet in back of the table is also relatively staid with a single, albeit oversized, royal purple Vidrios San Miguel recycled glass vase stuffed with an arrangement of graduated purple calla lilies. Using a single piece in a dramatic size and color negates the need for lots of little pieces all over the buffet top. Purple and gold glass votives dot the buffet’s edge and add to the overall ambiance in the room.

I don’t think they make gumbo-flavored rice cakes, so I’ll have to come up with something that will be healthy, filling and tasty without sending me into carb/fat/sodium/sugar overload. Yeah, I know…good luck with that! 🙂 New plan: Stick with the old eating plan, but eat it at the pared down table! Love it!

Please join me for Tablescape Thursday again this week to see how other tablescapers from around the globe are decorating for and celebrating Mardi Gras!
Laissez bon temps rouler, y‘all!!!

To see other Mardi Gras tablescapes on this site:
Laissez Bon Temps Rouler
Mardi Gras Mojo
Mardi Gras Madness
Celebrate Mardi Gras!

The Cake Studio

I was in the business of designing and coordinating lavish weddings for a lot of years. During that time I befriended some of the most talented cake artists this tri-state area (and beyond!) has to offer. (I’m no fool…I like cake! 😉 ) Just in time for Valentine’s Day, but perfect for ANY AND ALL occasions, allow me to introduce you to two gals with the most awesome baking and design talent around! (Sorry…no scratch and sniff/taste available!)

 

Photo by Sheri L. Grant

Owners Rebekah Foster (The Cake Studio) and Michelle Rice (Iced Art) have a really fun, eclectic style that translates into stunning, picture-perfect cakes. With their fabulous confections and the bright coral walls of the shop as a backdrop, I dropped in a wedding tablescape depicting a formal dinner look made contemporary by the combination of black and hot pink.

This tablescape’s place settings have sentimental meaning. The gold leafed glass chargers were a gift from my sister. The intricately designed octagonal “Jacobean” by F. Winkle & Co. salad plates were a gift from my mother (also used in a very different tablescape “Peaceful Peonies”), and the highly embellished flatware is “on loan.” (Seriously…does Mom really think I’m giving this back???)

Photo by Sheri L. Grant

The BB&B black polycotton napkins are folded to accommodate a place card or menu and banded with simple hot pink ribbon.

I could drink out of these glasses every day!!! Delicate pink crystal bears an etched design of meandering vines. I picked these up at Marshall’s and would really like to find more of them! (See this stemware used again for an Easter tablescape, “Pinky Peter Cottontail”.)

This magnificent centerpiece, created by Dana Nigro at Village Gardens in Blue Springs, MO is a remnant from my days as an event designer. The sturdy manzanita branch is dotted with pretty hot pink flowers and dazzling crystals. This truly was the center of the tablescape, with everything else being built around its simple beauty.

Photo by Sheri L. Grant

Iron candlesticks and treasure chests bursting with hot pink peonies rounded out the decorative centerpiece to complete the tablescape. I went with white rather than hot pink candles to maintain a bit of formality and so as not to overwhelm the look with too much of a good thing.

The three amigas: Michelle Rice (Iced Art – Cakes By Design), Rebekah Foster (The Cake Studio), and little ol’ me! (Photos by Sheri L. Grant)

Other pretty pink tablescapes on this site include:
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
Pretty In Pink
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
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Pretty In Pink, Wicked In Spurs – Breast Cancer Awareness
Bald Is Beautiful – Breast Cancer Awareness
Pink & Purple Chocolate Christmas
Au Revoir!

Get Me to the Church On Time!

All I can say is, “Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to squeeze this in during this busy, crazy holiday season!” (Click HERE if you would like to see all of our indoor Christmas decor for this year.)

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IMG_3445WMA Christmas bridal shower and wedding presents an opportunity to include the flavor of the holiday season without overdosing on it. With this shower, held in the evening, I made a valiant pass at it using some tried-and-true techniques and design elements.

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IMG_3429WMA flowing white cotton full-length linen is the start of an elegant table. The red chargers I have relied upon this season were a great start to a stylish place setting. The red charger (Target) is topped with a decorative gold one from Old Time Pottery. (Click HERE or HERE to see this same technique used with different dishes and silver chargers.) No-name dishes I bought in the early 90s at a discount department store are still a treasure to me today with their traditional holly design.

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IMG_3507WMI just love it when things work out. I went with our linen napkins bearing the first initial of our last name that coincidentally (again, thank you, Lord!) is the initial of the last name the bride will take as her own this weekend. The colorful beaded napkin rings were a steal last year at Old Time Pottery for just 99¢ each!

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IMG_3498WMA mix of gold-rimmed clear (Tuesday Morning) and cherry red stemware (Pier 1) is illuminated by the glow of abundant candlelight.

IMG_3482WMMy old standby goldtone flatware worked well to round out the place setting.

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IMG_3450WMStock Christmas cards create a menu with the theme of the evening, “Get Me to the Church On Time!” I used this same technique last year HERE for our Christmas season kickoff dinner.

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IMG_3500WMOne more “thank you, Lord!” in that I was able to reuse the cranberries used HERE. I created a similar version of this centerpiece made up of various sizes of cylinders parading down the table with vibrant orchids for a beautiful summer engagement party. Click HERE and scroll down to “Love and Orchids” to see that table. Floating cranberries and candles in the cylinders provides multi-level color and ambient light. Full-blown roses with sprigs of bright red berries and holly finish the look.

That’s it! I’m sure the wedding will go off without a hitch, and this will be a Christmas to remember!

Please take a little break from all the hustle & bustle of the season to join the party at Susan’s Tablescape Thursday again this week. There’s so much incredible tablescaping talent out there!

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOURS
FROM ME AND MINE!!!

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Photographer/Best Friend Sheri & me!

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My supportive, loving parents & me!

Upscale Irish

I have a confession to make: I’m not Irish. What….this surprises you?!??!!! OK, every year I share a little corn beef & cabbage with friends of Irish descent, try with absolutely no luck to learn an Irish jig, and sometimes even put on a “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” t-shirt (mostly just for the smooches from my husband!). But that’s all part of the fun. Like they say, “On St. Patrick’s Day, everybody’s Irish!” Well, this year I have been challenged to dig a little deeper. A lady who prefers to remain nameless here wrote to me via Facebook asking if I could help her with ideas for “an elegant, upscale St. Patrick’s Day dinner party.” Hmmmmm….elegant and St. Patrick’s Day. Not two terms you usually hear in the same sentence. Here’s the trick to it: Ms. Anonymous is of Irish descent and entertaining her non-Irish future in-laws at her home for the very first time. The in-laws, as I understand it, are a bit…shall we say…reserved. The mere mention of green beer would send them into a tailspin! So, the challenge was to come up with a table that could demonstrate pride in her heritage (after all, the futures did insist that the 17th was the only day they could meet for dinner while in town!) but still embrace the formality the occasion will demand. After nearly 10 days of wracking my little pea brain for ideas, my friend Jim Mooney – owner of Midwest Embroidery (who, by the way, is the most fabulous fabric guy in the world!) – randomly sent me an email with gorgeous images of the Emerald Isle. The photos took my breath away. Further, they inspired me – along with the hauntingly beautiful strains of Garth Brooks’s “Ireland” playing over and over – to create the tablescape that I hope will help Ms. Anonymous win points with her future in-laws. Thanks, Jim! And here we go!

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The mood is set for a lovely evening with festive traditional touches including the color that best represents the so-called Emerald Isle: emerald green, of course!

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When I think of Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day, I think of a lot of gold alongside the green. On a crisp, white linen I stacked a gold leafed glass charger and an American Atelier “Florentine Gold Scroll” dinner and salad plate. To top it off, emerald green-stemmed dessert bowls from Old Time Pottery.

IMG_0422WMThese Pier 1 wine glasses with clear stems supporting an emerald green bowl seemed a perfect representation of the occasion’s prevailing color. The gold design around the rim is similar to that around the china. I bought these stems at the same time I bought these that I used for one of my Mardi Gras tables this year.

img_0424wm.jpgStarched white cotton napkins are closely hugged by these gold and green “Rock Spray” napkin rings from Pier 1.

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The center of the table is adorned with tall gold candlesticks alternated with simple free-flowing bouquets of Bells of Ireland and orchids. I considered pots of shamrock, but decided on this airy floral combination instead because of the height and tinge of sophistication it lends. Ms. Anonymous, you may want to go with slightly fuller arrangements since you are seating for 8 and have a larger table.

IMG_0437WMMy husband actually suggested that I use these emerald green votives in place of the gold mercury glass ones I had selected. Good goin’, Ramon! It really does work better! Your eye for this stuff is kinda starting to scare me, dude! 😉 I picked these votives up at Old Time Pottery last year.

After dinner, I suggest a digestif of Bailey’s Irish Cream. It can be served in tiny glasses such as these, or in rocks glasses (Irish crystal, of course!) over ice. Single-serve bottles of Bailey’s adorned with a green ribbon make a great favor for each guest!

OK….so this is my version of “Upscale Irish” for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner party. Ms. Anonymous, I hope you will be able to glean something useful from it, and I wish you much success with your dinner party! Thanks for the challenge…it was a doozy!

Other posts on this site with tables suitable for St. Patrick’s Day:

Apple Green Luncheon
Moss & Manzanitas
Ready for My Close-Up, Mr. DeMille
“Rolling Fields of Green”

I am joining Cuisine Kathleen’s St. Patrick’s Day Blog Crawl on March 15th. Just click the banner below to check out what some other very talented tablescapers are doing to celebrate the wearin’ o’ the green!

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“Ireland”
lyrics by Stephanie Davis, Jenny Yates, Garth Brooks

They say mother earth is breathing
With each wave that finds the shore
Her soul rises in the evening
For to open twilight’s door
Her eyes are the stars in heaven
Watching o’er us all the while
And her heart it is in Ireland
Deep within the Emerald Isle.

We are forty against hundreds
In someone else’s bloody war
We know not why we’re fighting
Or what we’re dying for
They will storm us in the morning
When the sunlight turns to sky
Death is waiting for its dance now
Fate has sentenced us to die.

(chorus)
Ireland I am coming home
I can see your rolling fields of green
And fences made of stone.
I am reaching out won’t you take my hand
I’m coming home Ireland.

Oh the captain he lay bleeding
I can hear him calling me
“These men are yours now for the leading
Show them to their destiny ”
And as I look up all around me
I see the ragged tired and torn
I tell them to make ready
‘Cause we’re not waiting for the morn.

Ireland I am coming home
I can see your rolling fields of green
And fences made of stone.
I am reaching out won’t you take my hand
I’m coming home Ireland.

Now the fog is deep and heavy
As we forge the dark and fear
We can hear their horses breathing
As in silence we draw near
There are no words to be spoken
Just a look to say good-bye
I draw a breath and night is broken
As I scream our battle cry.

Ireland I am coming home
I can see your rolling fields of green
And fences made of stone.
I am reaching out won’t you take my hand
I’m coming home Ireland.

Yes I am home Ireland

We Were Forty Against Hundreds…..