An Offer You Can’t Refuse

The weather is beginning to cool, which means nights snuggled up with a good movie. I’m back with another fun segment from “Better Kansas City”, and if you don’t watch any other clip, YOU MUST SEE THIS ONE!!! My hope is that by including these short demonstration clips from the show (this one is just 3-1/2 minutes), you can get a better grasp of the tablescape construction and the thinking behind each.

And now a few still pics from the set…

 

 

I found the black, red & white melamine plates at Hobby Lobby 4 or 5 years ago but never had a chance to use them until now. Disposable (gasp!) Italian-themed napkins are from Tuesday Morning.

 

Long wicker bread baskets are used for a loaf of crusty Italian bread and a fun tomato and artichoke display that adds color and texture to the buffet table.

 

 

 

 

 

I liked the idea of using olives as part of the decor as “The Godfather – Part II” explores “the old country” and the Genco Pura Olive Oil Company (a front company for the Don’s real operations) in America. If you live in an area where olive branches are readily available, by all means…go for it!!! Here in the Kansas City area, however, artificial branches had to suffice. They make the perfect substitution for flowers casually plopped into a Methuselah wine bottle. (This bottle was also used for the wine tasting dinner “September Wine” and “Taste of Wine Buffet“.)

 

A night in front of the television screen sometimes calls for a good old-fashioned TV tray! Dress it up a little to complement the theme of the movie. Here a black & white checkered placemat is topped with a white dinner plate and the melamine salad plate from the buffet table.

 

Have a little fun and do something campy or totally unexpected to get guests in the spirit of the theme. Extract some idea from the movie that is easy to replicate. Here, I took a cue from the gruesome yet iconic scene in sleazy film mogul Jack Woltz’s palatial bedroom. My wooden horse’s head is swathed in “bloody” Halloween gauze from Dollar Tree. Fun little thing to put at the doorway as guests come in!

This was fun! Enjoy your next movie night at home!

Other posts on this blog using the horse (all of him!):
Carousel Colors

Run for the Roses
Celebrating Longview Farm
Kentucky Derby Buffet

Other posts on this blog using black, white & red:
Black, White & Red All Over
Black, White & Red All Over Christmas
Grill It Up!
Life Is Just A Chair of Bowlies

Checkered Christmas
Derby Day Dining

Another movie night post:
March of the Penguins

I’m joining Susan’s Tablescape Thursday this week! There are some very creative fall tablescapes you’ll not want to miss!!!

Butterfly Bleu – The Grand Resurgence of Melamine

In a recent segment of “Better Kansas City” (my first appearance back on the show after a 7-month absence for my stupid spine surgery) I talked about the joys of the new melamine dishware that has flooded the market in recent years. One thing for certain: this ain’t your mama’s melamine!

Our back deck sets the scene for this sweet little table for four decked in a 108-inch round ivory tablecloth and surrounded by banquet chairs with ivory Spandex covers from LinenTablecloth.com.

 

 

Each place setting starts with a double layer of chargers that picks up key colors in the salad plate including a sapphire blue metal from Pier 1 (first used in the post “Simply Peacock Garden” in 2014) topped with a chocolate brown Baroque-style (also used in “Pheasants & Pumpkins” back in 2014) from Hobby Lobby. I’ve discussed in prior posts how using more than one charger can add interest to the place setting via design, texture, shape and color. The dinner plate is Home Essentials Antique White, a popular staple around the tablescaping blog world.

 

 

I found the blue compotes at Old Time Pottery way back in 2010 and have only used them a couple of times. Shame on me! The salad plate – my inspiration for this tablescape – is a sweet melamine by TarHong with impressive blue butterflies and an additional carte postale design. A far cry from the drab melamine of the 1960s! The faux mother of pearl flatware is from Target.

 

 

 

I recently picked up this beautiful Aurora Blue stemware by Qualia at Home Goods. It perfectly complements the clear glass stemware I purchased at a moving sale some years ago (also seen in “Something Blue Bridal Luncheon“). Ivory cloth napkins are cinched with a blue acrylic napkin ring, tucked into the stemware, and embellished with a blue butterfly to further complement the salad plates.

 

 

The hefty centerpiece, heightened by a rosewood Chinese pot stand, is made up of a tangle of greenery mixed with blue hydrangea, ivory roses, alstroemeria and hypericum berries finished off with eryngium blue thistle.

I’m not around as much these days as I’m taking LOTS of time out of each day getting healthy: walking 5-7 miles a day, spinning on my recumbent bike, working out with small weights, preparing fresh meals from scratch…all the things that will help my spine get (and hopefully stay!) strong and lose the “surgery weight.” I’m peeking in on you, and I’m so glad you peeked in on me today. Have a great week ahead!

Other posts on this site with butterflies include:
Float Like A Butterfly
Grazin’ In the Grass
Spring Into Easter
Patisserie de Paris
Butterfly Kaleidoscope
Spring Has Sprung
Mother’s Day Brunch
Purple For Spring
Showered In Pink
Going Green For Spring

If you’d like to see other posts on this site using double chargers, check these out:
Proud As A Peacock!
Fete Noir et Gris
Princess Pink Birthday Dinner
Year of the Rabbit
Copper Zen
Cranberry Christmas
Christmas Progressive Dinner
Get Me To the Church on Time
Let It Snow!
Winter Cardinal
Pumpkins & Peacocks
Mardi Gras Lite
French Poodle
Hooray For Vodka!
Clematis & Hyacinth
Rhapsody In Blue

Oranges & Blossoms

ORANGES & BLOSSOMS
(a re-post from September 2010)
Folks, I’m revamping my blog a bit and getting rid of “pages” from my early days of blogging that featured multiple posts. I don’t want to lose the posts altogether, though, so I’m re-posting them. Makes no sense, huh? Believe me, if there was an easier way…!!! So, if you’ve never seen this one before it’s all new to you. If you have seen it, I apologize for the rerun but hope you can enjoy it all over again! There will be additional reruns coming into your box every couple of days until I’ve emptied these pages from the early days. Who knows…maybe what’s old can be new again with ideas. Let’s hope! Meanwhile, all new posts are on the way, too!!!
Some get-togethers are just a little more relaxed than others, but that doesn’t mean the tablescape has to suffer!
 
 Bright colors can go a long, long way to bring a summer tablescape to life!
 
With about 24 hours notice, I was able to construct this casual but inviting tablescape. Atop a white cotton linen, the brilliant orange matchstick placemat really stands out. The next layers are a simple white Corelle dinner plate, a bright pink & orange melamine salad plate from Burlington, and a fun little orange slice plate for the appetizer. The place setting is finished off with a folded white napkin and fun white handled flatware from TJ Maxx. Nothing fancy…just pure fun!
 
 When it comes to centerpieces in a hurry, let your imagination kick in. A couple of white cake stands (Ralph Lauren “Pavillion”) did the trick in this case, stacked high with oranges from the fridge (tomorrow morning’s orange juice!), and dotted with waxflower and brilliantly hued plumeria blossoms. Any small flowers will do that match or complement your tablescape colors. (See the cake stands used for other displays at “88 Years & 88 Keys” and “Blushing Bridal Shower“.
 Tiny orange glass vases from Hobby Lobby repeat the floral theme of waxflower and plumeria from the main centerpiece with impatiens from the side yard landscape tossed in for good measure.
Simply using items from around the house, the fridge, and the yard, a jaunty little tablescape is born!
This easy, breezy tablescape was quick to assemble and, thankfully, quick to take down as we were chased in just before dessert by a rain storm!

Orange You Glad You Came To Dinner?

ORANGE YOU GLAD YOU CAME TO DINNER?
(a re-post from August of 2010)

Folks, I’m revamping my blog a bit and getting rid of “pages” that featured multiple posts in an effort to make it easier to find things. I don’t want to lose the posts altogether, though, so I’m re-posting them. Makes no sense, huh? Believe me, if there was an easier way…!!! So, if you’ve never seen this one before it’s all new to you. If you have seen it, I apologize for the rerun but hope you can enjoy it all over again! There will be additional reruns coming into your box every couple of days until I’ve emptied these pages from the early days of blogging. Who knows…maybe what’s old can be new again with ideas. Let’s hope!

 Sigh! As the kids reluctantly prepare to head back to class, we try to squeeze in just a few more outdoor family dinners.

 I’ve been itching to use these creamsicle colored dishes all summer! Orange is “the new red” when it comes to stimulating the appetite and lifting spirits. For my tablescapes indoors and out, I am totally on board!

 

Rather than my usual (and beloved!) long, narrow table, I kissed two 6-ft. tables horizontally to create more of a square shape. Doing so allows for a more generous centerpiece as well as plenty of elbow room for each guest. (With the trays, this seats 8; without trays, however, this table configuration comfortably seats 10.)

 

 

Each of this tablescape’s place settings consists of a bamboo tray (looked good, and sure made clean up a lot easier!) from Old Time Pottery. The orange & white melamine dishes are from Target. The square shape lends a contemporary feel, while the floral design gives them a timeless look without being stuffy. (See these same dishes used for another summer tablescape HERE.) I fell in love with the icy orange flatware from Burlington and the flower & butterfly napkin rings from Hobby Lobby. Even the Costco stemware is plastic, but the design gives it an “authentic” look. The cool cube place card holders from Crate & Barrel finish the place setting. Off to the side, a small table holds snacks in complementary colors.

 
I mulled over centerpiece options for this tablescape for several days. Sure, the weatherman is predicting a drastic cool down from the upper 90s to the mid 80s, but how can I be sure? Fresh flowers will wilt as soon as I walk them out the door if he’s wrong. So…I went against everything I know and bowed to decorating with FAUX flowers!!! Somehow, though, with the cool orange color and the unrealistically large heads, it looks kind of 1960s mod instead of flat out weird. I may need to find more uses for faux flowers! Stay tuned!!!
 
This is my Dad, Jim. I love him very much!!!
(postscript: Daddy died in May of 2013.
I’m so glad we had this quality time together.)
Other tablescapes with lots of orange (other than autumn and Halloween):
Mandarin Bling
Summer Orange
Oranges & Blossoms
Hot Tropical

     

Butterfly Kaleidoscope

This week I’d like to share a casual summer tablescape with you that, with just a bit of tweaking, could work well both indoors or out.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One - Butterfly Kaleidoscope: Inspiration piece

INSPIRATION: Melamine dinner plate from Target’s 2010 collection in turquoise, citrus green, brown and white. See how it looks like a butterfly…and a kaleidoscope?

I couldn’t decided whether this reminded me more of a butterfly or an image you might see when looking into one of those old-fashioned kaleidoscopes. I also couldn’t decide whether I wanted to show this inside in the dining room or outside on the deck. So I’m going to show you both in a sort of side-by-side comparison! This might be helpful information as you come up with a Plan A for good weather and a “hope we don’t need it, but just in case we doPlan B to bring it all inside in case of inclement weather conditions.
(Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge it to see details up close.)

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One - Butterfly Kaleidoscope: Full room in and out collageBoth inside and out, I started with a full-length brown linen. Yes…ye olde brown linen is back in play! Seriously…brown is a great summer neutral. It all depends on how you pair it up!

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One - Butterfly Kaleidoscope: Full table in and out collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One - Butterfly Kaleidoscope: Multiple place setting in and out collageTop photo – indoors, bottom photo – outdoors. Just look at all that color!!!

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One - Butterfly Kaleidoscope: Single place setting in and out collageThe elements on the table are a balanced mix of all the colors found in the dinner plate. The charger is a white ceramic from Old Time Pottery. TIP: White chargers may be a little tough to come by, so you might consider buying inexpensive acrylic ones and spray painting them. Great look, great value!

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One - Butterfly Kaleidoscope: Flatware, rim shot, napkin in and out collageBoth inside and out, a double dose of napkins cascade off the side of the table at each place setting. It’s nice to have two napkins for guests if you’re eating something extra messy like fried chicken or barbecue. One for the lap, one for mouth & fingers. They’ll love you for it! The flatware is a faux bamboo from Home Goods. Notice on the outdoor setting how a butterfly has innocently landed on each salad fork.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One - Butterfly Kaleidoscope: Turquoise stemware from Pier 1I LOVE this super chunky turquoise stemware from Pier 1!!! It feels really substantial and holds a lot of whatever beverage is being served.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One - Butterfly Kaleidoscope: Full centerpiece in and out collageThe centerpiece indoors is a mix of turned white wood candlesticks from Z Gallerie topped with fun turquoise, green and white striped candles from Pier 1, a trio of florals, and pots of rye grass standing as sentry at each end. The outdoor table loses the rye grass and adds votives to the mix.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One - Butterfly Kaleidoscope: Candle collageI get a lot of mileage out of these Z Gallerie candlesticks. Each end of the centerpiece holds a pair in two sizes. Notice the bling on the candle wick. If your dinner party starts early in the evening when the sun is still out, keep the bling on as an added point of interest. When it’s time to light the candles, just snip the wick to about 1/2 inch, pocket the bling, and put it aside for use on something else later.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One - Butterfly Kaleidoscope: Floral trio collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One - Butterfly Kaleidoscope: Butterfly collageThe fun floral element comes in a trio of white ceramic canisters filled with acid green roses and rye grass. Fun little turquoise hand-painted butterflies from Beau-coup.com flit about, landing here and there at will.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One - Butterfly Kaleidoscope: Deep turquoise square glass votive holder

The outdoor table has an added twist of intermittent votives in deep turquoise blue glass holders.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One - Butterfly Kaleidoscope: Buffet table indoors collageThe buffet behind the dining table indoors is smothered with turquoise and citrus green paper lanterns. It’s a simple but effective backdrop to the busy design on the table.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One - Butterfly Kaleidoscope: Buffet table outdoors

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One - Butterfly Kaleidoscope: Outdoor buffet table element collageThe outdoor buffet table is covered from head to toe in a smart fitted white tablecloth from LinenTablecloth.com. The pots of rye grass used on the dining table and around the room indoors have moved to the buffet table to add color there.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One - Butterfly Kaleidoscope: Turquoise and citrus green paper lanternsThe sides of the buffet table are festooned with paper lantern “towers” tied to the deck posts. Just loop ribbon through the lanterns to create this fun and colorful look!

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One - Butterfly Kaleidoscope: Paper lanternsMore paper lantern singles are tied to individual posts around the deck to surround guests in color and movement. If you add lights to the lanterns, just think how pretty that would be at night!!!

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One - Butterfly Kaleidoscope: Tea cart collageBack inside, a vintage tea cart holds pitchers of ice cold water and lemonade on the bottom and a Ralph Lauren pedestal filled with Granny Smith apples on top.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One - Butterfly Kaleidoscope: China cabinet and sconce collageFinally indoors the china cabinet has a complementary treatment of paper lanterns, rye grass and roses. The sconces that flank the buffet are outfitted with pots of rye grass visited by butterflies.

Are ya dizzy now? Sorry ’bout that! My point is that you can use the same elements either indoors or out and achieve a great look that is appropriate to the space. Plan A or Plan B…you decide! 🙂

Other posts on this site using turquoise or blue, green & white:
“Under a Paper Moon”
“Summer Blues & Greens”

Another post on this site using paper lanterns:
“Blue & White 30th Birthday”
“Cupcake Colors”
“Under a Paper Moon”
“Easter Brunch”

I’m joining lots of other talented tablescapers again this week at Cuisine Kathleen’s blog party, “Let’s Dish!” (anytime after 6:00 p.m. CDT Wednesday) and Susan’s party, “Tablescape Thursday” (anytime after 9:00 a.m. CDT Thursday).

Halloween Tablescape – Ravenous Raven Graveyard Feast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thick blood pours from lighted skulls on the decorative sconces.

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

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

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

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

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

Working Lunch

My husband is giving me “that look.” You know the one: the look that says, “Here we go again! Just shoot me now!” But I swear on a stack of pancakes I am NOT getting back into the wedding business!!! I am simply lending the benefit of my expertise to two three a few couples who have recently asked me for a little jump-start in their planning. And it’s not like I’m planning the entire wedding like I used to. Just the reception decor part. I mean, what’s the harm in that? 🙂

I had a lunch meeting a couple of weeks ago with a lovely couple and Mother-of-the-bride who are planning a May 2013 wedding. We spent nearly an entire day together, grinding our way through the details of their reception decor. I wanted to continue working right through the noon hour, so I set up a casual & fun lunch table that was pretty much in line with their chosen colors…and professions!
(Click on any image to enhance/enlarge it.)

Thanks to the sweltering heat (stick a fork in me…am I done yet??!?!!), we were relegated to the basement level of our home for the marathon meeting. We worked on the soft seating/big screen TV side of the room for most of the day, but lunch was set up in a little out-of-the-way corner on a marble top table.

Both the groom and the Mother-of-the-bride are elementary school teachers, so I thought it would be fun to use these lunch trays to make them feel right at home. (And to remind them that they’ll be right back in there with those screamin’ little demons in less than a month! :-)) I got an “A” for effort on that one!

I have been holding onto these really cool lunch boxes from Kirkland’s for another upcoming project, but the couple’s colors are turquoise, orange and white. How could I resist? Another “A” for effort!

I set it up so that we could just take the food from our lunch box and put it on our plate when ready to eat.

The chocolate and white luncheon-sized melamine plates (Target 2010) have just a touch of muted orange and turquoise in the simple design. I couldn’t believe how the plate colors nearly spot on matched those of the fun retro design lunch box!!! (The lunch box design reminds me of “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In“. If you’re old enough to remember that show, take a little break and go fix yourself – and me! – a Metamucil cocktail with a Geritol chaser! ;-)) Fun white flatware from TJ Maxx lightens the look and stands out nicely against the deep color of the lunch tray. A bottle of refreshing Sioux City orange cream soda looks great with the setting and tastes great goin’ down…like a creamsicle!!!

Lunch was a quick and easy one: a piquant Southern fried chicken sandwich, a parchment paper cone filled with crispy thin Lay’s potato chips, and little Ziploc baggies of celery and carrot sticks. Just like in grade school…but without the stinky kid with the perpetually runny nose wanting to sit next to you! 🙂 I put a little ice pack in the bottom of each lunch box to keep the contents cold until time to eat.


The little wine table beneath the small screen TV was perfect for setting up munchies and dessert. (Yes….sadly, we have two televisions in the basement. My husband has grand delusions of this being a TGIFriday’s!)

We finally called it a day around 4:20. Sheesh….7 grueling hours of decision making!!! But guess what? The decor side of the wedding is now all but set in stone, and we won’t have to meet again until early April to finalize everything. Hallelujah! I love it when things work out like that!!! I hope you’ll check back next May to see the fruits of our labor!

Oh…I forgot the other thing: I got a glowing report card of straight A’s on my tablescape!!! 🙂 It would work really well for any kind of meeting including a teachers’ back to school planning session. This lunch and learn tablescape would also be something fun and different for a teen study group!

I’m linking up on Wednesday night with Cuisine Kathleen for Let’s Dish! and on Thursday morning with Susan for Tablescape Thursday over at Between Naps on the Porch. You can also find me at BeBetsy.com. I hope you’ll join us!

Summer Orange Tablescape

If you’re lucky enough to live in an area where the mid-summer heat and humidity doesn’t rob you of all your energy and drench you from head to toe, this saucy orange tablescape might work well for your next casual dinner party. As for me, I’m campin’ out in the big produce cooler at Costco! 😉
(Click on any image to enhance/enlarge it!)

If your outdoor tables are unsightly like ours (average Joe folding tables), just add a full-length linen to cover up the scene of the crime. It masks the ugly and adds a touch of class a la Carolyne Roehm! LinenTablecloth.com is a good place to start your search for linens that fully cover all sizes in white, ivory or black. (Their customer service re: returns/exchanges is not the best from my experience, so choose carefully!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flamingos in Paradise

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

While living in the great Midwest doesn’t afford much of a true beach experience, we can always dream! This poppin’ pink tropical tablescape for 10 is great for a gathering of friends celebrating any casual summer occasion. I know my good friend/cake stylist, Patrick “the-Flamingo-Lover” Snuffer, would never leave!
(Click on any image to enhance/enlarge it.)

I used two 6-ft. oblong tables pushed together horizontally to create an “almost square.” This shape provides more decorating space in the center with room left over if necessary for bread baskets, wine carafes, condiments and such.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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