Informally Formal: Marrying modern and classic in your table setting

My segment on yesterday’s “Better Kansas City” show on KCTV-5 was all about “informally formal” entertaining at home! Just click this link to the “Better Kansas City” website to  enjoy the 4-minute video clip!: Marrying modern and classic in your table setting

As mentioned in the video clip, our Easter dinner tablescape was, I think, a good example of informally formal design. We simultaneously celebrated my son’s 39th birthday, and I wanted both my son and the rest of the family to feel special – because they are! But this was a day I wanted to be able to relax a little, too, so instead of formal china and crystal, I pulled out some terrific Pier 1 plates to fill the bill. This tablescape, minus the obvious nods to Easter, would be perfect for any Springtime event including birthdays, Mother’s Day, ladies luncheons, bridal or baby showers, or even engagement parties.





I’ve not used these beautiful Pier 1 plates since 4 years ago when I posted a piece called “The Bluebird Special“. While certainly far from what might be construed as traditionally formal, they have a simultaneously staid/laid back look. The woven square chargers and faux bamboo flatware lend texture and an organic feel to the place setting.  The yellow undertones of the flatware complement the bird on the plate as well as the floral centerpieces. The lavender napkin is fashioned in a traditional pyramid fold, and the green goblets are from Dollar Tree.


I enjoy creating specialized menus on my computer for at-home events. This colorful one in shades of yellow, purple and white with a bright pink clip leans to the side of informality. The colors complement the florals.






I might have gone a little wild with all the florals this year, but they were all so pretty! Our generous across-the-street neighbors allowed me to snip from their lavishly blooming lilac bush to complete the springtime floral designs of pink & yellow tulips, Mardi gras Solidago, and alstroemeria in white vases. The florals extended down the length of a fresh moss runner dotted with moss bird nests from Home Finishings. (HINT: If the smell of moss wrinkles your nose, open it up and air it out for a couple of days before use.) For additional height, texture, a burst of color, and the pure drama of it all, I filled a white glass vase with forsythia branches and placed it at the very end of the table. Note that the full-length white tablecloth from is knotted at the end for safety as well as a cool contemporary look.


The alternating pink and lavender satin chair sashes almost didn’t make the cut. My husband thought the plain white stretch chair covers were sufficient. I, however, begged to differ. When he saw the chairs with the sashes, high fives and mea culpas were in order. (We agreed they made the chairs resemble Easter eggs!) Depending on the type of event you are hosting, chair sashes may or may not be appropriate. It’s up to you!

When planning your next Springtime event, keep in mind who your guests are, what feeling you’d like the space to evoke and, as always, just what level of formality is within your comfort zone! As alluded to in the video clip, formality may be circling the bowl, but it ain’t dead yet! 😉

For more photos of tablescapes seen in the video clip:
“Blurred Lines With Shades of Pink”
“Celebrating 85 Years of Fabulous”
“My Sister’s Wedding China”

A few other Spring tablescapes on this blog you may enjoy include:
“Springtime In Paris”
“Patisserie de Paris”
“Easter Brunch”
“Pinky Peter Cottontail”
“Barton’s Easter Brunch”
“All A’Bloom For Spring”
“Spring Has Sprung”
“Welcome Back, Joel”
“Peony Power”
“Tulips in the IHOP Hour”
“Float Like A Butterfly”
“Purple & Pastel”








Spring & Easter Around the House

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


Easter bunny in wood lantern lavished with greenery & flowers


Foyer bunny collage

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


Spring vignette on ivory wrought iron tiered stand.


Bluebird in nest on tiered stand.

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


Foyer table for Spring/Easter.


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

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


Wooden bunny in nest of Spanish moss under glass cloche.


Wooden bunny under glass cloche with Spanish moss nest.

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


Living room bookshelves.


White pierced ginger jar on stack of books with airy wreath at the base.

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


Desk area in kitchen dressed up for Spring.


Desk area shelf dressed for Spring.


White bunnies with black & white gingham check neck bows in front of black & white transferware.

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


Breakfast nook.


Breakfast nook dressed for Easter.


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


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


Tiered stand on kitchen table collage.

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


Side table dressed for Easter in breakfast nook.


Bunny with nest collage.

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


Stone bunny with glass cloche.

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

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

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

Spring Into Easter

For the first time in two years my health is such that I could actually create an Easter tablescape to share with family and friends. This is a “souped up” version of what it will be using lots of greenery, wreaths and other accessories I bought at one of my favorite home accessories boutiques, Home Finishings, in Lee’s Summit, MO, where we live. (My buddy, Mary Beth, owns Home Finishings, and if you want to get lots of fabulous ideas for free, Like the Home Finishings Facebook page.) I was inspired this year by the remarkable vignettes Mary Beth created in her most recent Spring home tour (you can see those photos on her Facebook page or soon to come on the Home Finishings website) where each room was dressed to the nines!, Spring Into Easter, "Spring Into Easter" tablescape, “Spring Into Easter” tablescape

There is no scarcity of design elements on this table, that’s for sure! I appreciate the abundance that allows a little something for everyone. Remember, though, this is an “enhanced” or fantasy version of what is actually workable for guests to dine. You can edit, edit, edit at will!, “Spring Into Easter” tablescape, “Spring Into Easter” tablescape, “Spring Into Easter” tablescape, “Spring Into Easter” tablescape

Place settings such as these are obviously a part of the “fantasy” of the table; but if you want to impress your guests upon their arrival, leave it as is and then remove the wreaths with nests just before guests sit down to the first course. The lacy white doily-like metal chargers are from Michael’s and can be used throughout most of the year. (I’ve seen this same charger in a pastel pink at Michael’s this season!) They are topped with a small grapevine wreath filled with Spanish moss, enhanced with sprigs of forsythia, and crowned with a tiny moss nest from Home Finishings. I added the eggs and a couple of feathers for further effect., “Spring Into Easter” tablescape


Bird Song by Park Designs dish towel design

“Bird Song” by Park Designs fabric swatch

A plain white cotton napkin complements the white charger. The flatware is from Target. Notice the bit of fabric at the edge of the centerpiece beyond the place setting? That’s a “Bird Song” cotton dish towel by Park Designs that I received as a bonus with purchase after the last Home Finishings in-store event. The birds and twigs on it complement those on the table and around the room. So…there’s an idea for what to do with those pretty towels that don’t soak up much water in the kitchen: make ’em a part of your table design!, “Spring Into Easter” tablescape

I chose melon green glassware with a raised pattern from Pier One to work with all the greenery on the table. White egg cups from World Market hold speckled eggs., “Spring Into Easter” tablescape

At each place setting is a tiny yellow ceramic chick., “Spring Into Easter” tablescape, “Spring Into Easter” tablescape, “Spring Into Easter” tablescape, “Spring Into Easter” tablescape, “Spring Into Easter” tablescape

The lush centerpiece is largely centered on a wicker basket for easy removal. The birdcage is filled with candles and a small gazing ball. It is wrapped in a generous length of bendable “twig” that cascades from the top and disappears into the greenery. The stone bunny holds a basket of flowers adorned with butterflies. The entire arrangement is surrounded with greenery bunches – most purchased at Home Finishings – that spill out over the basket onto the table., “Spring Into Easter” tablescape

A length of moss runner anchors the entire centerpiece. On each end I placed an evergreen topiary flanked by gazing balls that add something reflective to the vignette. The addition of the topiaries was part of the inspiration gleaned from Mary Beth’s luxurious creation in her own dining room., “Spring Into Easter” tablescape

I carried the yellow of the forsythia and baby chicks from the table over to the buffet., “Spring Into Easter” tablescape, “Spring Into Easter” tablescape - Tea Cart Collage

The tea/bar cart in the dining room corner is dressed up a bit for Spring and Easter with adorable wood bunnies from Hobby Lobby. For a bit more Springtime effect I added wreaths with speckled eggs in nests to the tiered server.


Additional  Easter tablescapes or
tablescapes adaptable to Easter on this blog:

Easter In Pink & Grey
Easter Floral – Purple, Pink & White
Easter Bloom
Barton’s Easter Brunch
Building a Better Brunch Buffet
All A’Bloom in Pink for Spring
The Bluebird Special
The Party She Deserves
Spring Green
Purple for Spring
Going Green for Spring
Spring Has Sprung

Note: With this new design, I no longer have a Comments section. If you have questions, please feel free to drop me an email. The address is on the sidebar.

Happy Spring, and best wishes for a safe and blessed Easter!

A Dorothy By Any Other Name: Purple and Cream 80th Birthday

There have been many remarkable Dorothys to walk this earth. Among them the brainy Dorothy Johnson-Vaughn (NASA mathematician recently depicted in the movie “Hidden Figures”), the brazen Dorothy Height (women’s and civil rights activist), the brilliant Dorothy Hamill (ice skater), the beguiling Dorothy Dandridge (actress), the bubbly Dorothy who captured our hearts along the Yellow Brick Road, the beleaguered Dorothy Tucker-Roberts (my poor hairstylist of 20+ years for whom one must feel sympathy having to put up with me!), and finally the blissful, beautiful and beloved Mrs. Dorothy J. Knight, the honoree for this lovely celebration. When my high school friend, Audrey, asked me to craft a head table with the colors and flowers her Mother adored to celebrate her 80 birthday, I was most humbled.


Mrs. Knight’s birthday celebration was held in the auditorium at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage in Kansas City, Missouri.






I created a dramatic centerpiece using a silver faux manzanita tree branch adorned with various hanging crystals and cream spray roses. I placed it on a round mirror to reflect back the sparkle, shine and movement of the crystals. A cluster of four standard size julep cups filled with cream roses, spider mums, baby’s breath, and miniature chrysanthemums. Satellite miniature juleps each held a single rose surrounded by baby’s breath and a few mini chrysanthemums.



Each place setting at the table included a mirrored charger, creamy dishes, lovely heirloom flatware, and a cream colored napkin emerging from a silver pew cone, also known as a cherub cone. (Other posts on this blog incorporating silver pew cones as napkin holders include “Purple & Pastel” and “Pretty in Pink”.) I placed a personal set of salt & pepper shakers at the top of each place setting.




The creamy ivory rosette table runner contrasts with the royal purple full-length tablecloth and complements the chair caps that are placed over ivory stretch chair covers and all tied up with a lavender satin sash.

Family members worked hard to plan and create the remaining atmosphere. They put a lot of love into it! To play on Shakespeare’s words in Romeo & Juliet, a Dorothy by any other name would not be as sweet as Mrs. Dorothy J. Knight.

For more birthday celebrations on this blog:
“88 Years & 88 Keys”
“Celebrating 85 Years of Fabulous”
“The Party She Deserves”
“Purple and Pastel”
“Blue & White 30th Birthday”
“Purple + Green = Happy Birthday!”
“Happy Birthday, Barf!”
and see FIVE additional birthday celebrations on the “Birthdays” tab!


88 Years and 88 Keys

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


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

Sen. Yvonne S. Wilson (Ret.)

Mom entering the stage as she is introduced.


Sen. Yvonne S. Wilson (ret.)

Mom with her medal


Sen. Yvonne S. Wilson (ret.)

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


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


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

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


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




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

Happy April, everyone!
















It Comes in Threes

I am SO grateful and SO humbled by all of the wonderful and heartfelt well-wishes received during my recovery from the two spine surgeries I had already this year. I am equally appreciative of your patience with me getting back to blogging. My time has been spent with a LOT of physical therapy and just trying to adjust to the “new normal.” I have missed pulling out dishes and accessories to create, and I have missed even more the opportunity to visit the sites of so many fellow bloggers who turn out such incredible work week after week. Sitting at the computer for hours on end was just too uncomfortable.

SO NOW THE BAD NEWS: All of the aggressive, non-stop physical therapy over these past months has worked to aggravate my left shoulder’s torn rotator cuff and frayed labrum caused by yet another nasty bone spur. Those of you who have known me for a while know I just went through a similar surgery 2 short years ago for the right shoulder. But everything ugly comes in threes, and good ol’ Number 3 began Friday, July 17, as I underwent surgery for the third time this year.

So I went from this “new normal” in winter, spring and early summer…:Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “Down, But Not Out”

…to this which will be “the new new normal” through the fall:


Pre-op with the very handsome and wonderful Dr. Greg Van den Berghe. He's just yummy...and he does fantastic shoulder work!!!

Pre-op with the very handsome and wonderful Dr. Greg Van den Berghe. He’s just yummy…and he does fantastic shoulder work!!!

Feeling alert and pretty good after the 2-hr. surgery! Notice my stylish outfit!

Feeling alert and pretty good after the 2-hr. surgery! Notice my stylish outfit! You may also notice the still emaciated right leg that’s still getting PT along with my back.

Back home safe & sound, but the nerve block is starting to wear off. :-(

Back home safe & sound, but the nerve block is starting to wear off. 😦

My goal is to get back up on that horse and “get jiggy with it” sooner than later. I hope you all will hang in there with me a bit longer, and I promise I’ll be back as soon as I can move this arm a bit. My brain is TEEMING with tablescape ideas after all this time!

Thank you again for all the well-wishes, love and support over these past difficult months. I’ll see you soon in Blog Land!!!

Poking the Sleeping Bear

Hello, Friends! Well, there’s good news and bad news. First, the good news 🙂 : I am still alive, and the January 8 surgery was successful in removing the bone spur from my spine. Now for the bad news 😦 : It was like pulling a thread on a sweater or poking a sleeping bear. The whole thing just unraveled, and it has been a struggle ever since!

Sad sack little me after yet ANOTHER world-rocking procedure.

Sad sack little me after yet ANOTHER world-rocking pre-surgery procedure. But isn’t my motor scooter cool? It’s called a Jazzy! Funny…I don’t FEEL so jazzy!!! 😦 Nonetheless, I shall henceforth until further notice be known as Alycia the Jazzy! 🙂

I will go under the knife again this coming Friday morning, April 10. This time it will involve much, much more. The shockingly deep, painful, and almost constant sensation across my lower back and down the right leg never went away. Why not, you ask? Because when the bone spur was removed it allowed the herniation of the L5 disc to spread its evil little wings. The herniation, however, went into the spinal column rather than out to the sides or in front like normal people’s would. It essentially took the place of the bone spur in compressing a nerve. The neurosurgeon has seen that only ONCE in his 40+ years of practice, and the orthopedic surgeon has NEVER seen it! So…they will work in tandem in a 4-6 hour surgery to remove the affected discs, free up the herniation, perform a fusion using cadaver bones and pedicle screws, and insert an EBI bone stimulator that will be surgically removed at a later date. Rehab will start the day after the surgery, and I will be in the hospital for 3 days if all goes according to plan. I will then have to once again start the long, tough battle to recovery.

God gives you only what you can handle...

I must once again beg both your prayers and your patience. I thought by now I would be back to tablescaping and enjoying the nice Spring weather with you guys, but I have been confined to the bed for a total of FOUR long months. (And I have gained 20+ lbs. and lost a lot of muscle mass in my legs due to inactivity. My right leg in particular feels like a cooked noodle!) I am now keeping the faith that I will be back in time to create a few summertime tablescapes for your enjoyment.

A billion thanks to everyone who has said a prayer, dropped a line, placed a call, stopped by to visit, sent a card or get well gift, or just kept a good thought for me. Those of you who know me know this is SO against type for me. I am more a fan of 24/7/365 when it comes to working my body, my mind, and my God-given creativity. Please hang in there with me a while longer. I thank you for your love and support. I miss you terribly.

Happy Spring, and I’ll try to have my husband publish an update!


All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall

Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”Family means everything, and a gallery wall is a uniquely personal and fun way to celebrate the lives and love of those humans connected to us by DNA, even if we never got a chance to meet them. Yes, I know this is a tablescape blog, but I’m hoping you will indulge me and perhaps get inspired for a different sort of decorating. After all, if you frequently entertain family like I do, they will get a kick out of seeing the faces of ancestors mixed in with the thoughtful symbolism artfully displayed each time they come to visit.

Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”I finished creating this gallery wall – the love and life story of Ramon, me, and our ancestors – in the library just in time for guests coming for Thanksgiving and Christmas 2014 to see it. As we’re all squirreled away for these cold winter months and looking for indoor projects to fill the time, perhaps this will stir something in you to create a gallery wall with your own memories!
(Click on any photo, then click again to enhance/enlarge it.)

Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”The “connecting” elements between Ramon’s family and mine are many, but none stands out greater than the fact that both our Dads worked for the railroad early on in their lives. My Dad talked about it often in very fond tones, and I wanted to honor both Dads by using railroad tracks as the literal and figurative connectors on this wall. I put a length of tracks dead center on the wall beneath a side-by-side collage of Ramon and me at the approximate ages we were when our Dads were working on the railroad. (Don’t judge! I was just 6! 🙂 ) The tracks serve to visually “connect” the 2 sides of the wall that are dedicated to my side and Ramon’s side of the family.


Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”: Wilson family collageThe huge clock represents not only the passing of time over the generations, but also reminds me of the kind of pocket watch the Dads carried during their time on the railroad. (Still thinking about adding a chain to it.) The oversized high school diplomas in their original frames were earned by my paternal grandparents in 1912 and 1916. (Yes, they made diplomas THAT big back then!!!) That makes Grandpa Wilson’s diploma an official antique and Grandma Wilson’s on its way to that status one year from now! The collage above the diplomas are photos of my paternal grandparents, paternal great-grandparents, and other members of my Dad’s family. The Ws beneath the diplomas, of course, represent the Wilson family name.


Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”


Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”I turned the corner of the gallery wall to display collages of my Dad. The frame at the bottom is a medley of him from a baby on up. He was a handsome devil!!! the portrait on the opposing wall is of my Grandmother as a child.


Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”


Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”The frames beneath my Grandmother’s portrait hold letters written to her from my Dad when he first left the farm and went to work on the railroad. Notice the lovely calligraphy he splurged on for the top right-hand corner envelope to impress his Mom!


Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall” - shadow box


Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”: Daddy's shadow box collageAs a tribute to those who pass before us, I like to create personalized shadow boxes. My Dad’s is encircled by railroad tracks. Inside the shadow box are bits & pieces of his life that I will always remember including his love for golf, popcorn, Vegas, tending to his various fruit trees, and teaching me to shoot. The shadow box also has a railroad spike and a wrench because Daddy could fix and build almost anything. On top of the box is a Scrabble “W” for Wilson, a replica Nickel Plate boxcar, and a Missouri Pacific Railroad pin.


Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”: Little Red Wagon collageBeneath the clock is a collage of photos that I found amusing. Three photos taken at different times in history of little boys with their red wagons. Clockwise: my son in 1981, my uncle (with my Mom being cradled) circa 1928, and my Dad in 1925. Cool, huh? I hot glued the tiny red wagon to the outside for a 3-D look.



Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”The center of the gallery wall has photos of my Mother’s side of the family (Starks) above the photos of Ramon and me as children. (I was in 1st grade in my school uniform, Ramon in 2nd or 3rd.) The 6-pack to the upper right represents five generations of Starks women starting with my great-Grandmother. The single photo directly above is of my maternal great-great-Grandmother. The couple to the left are my maternal Grandfather and my Mom’s stepmother/my Grandmother. (Mom’s birth mother died when my Mom was just 7 years old.) The photo you see of the young man playing the violin is my Grandfather as a youngster.


Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”The Nichols part of the wall is a little skimpy. I don’t have a lot of photos on hand of Ramon’s side of the family, but I did my best to represent the generations. The 3-pack at the bottom has photos of (L to R) his paternal Grandmother, paternal great-Grandfather, and paternal great-Grandmother. The collage above that has Ramon’s parents at the top, his children on the bottom tier, and Ramon and grandson in the middle.


Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”


Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”: Mrs. Nichols shadow box collage


Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”The shadow box in memory of Ramon’s Mother represents her love/skill for cooking and sewing, including a vintage cookbook. I had a lot of fun putting this box together with miniatures found at Hobby Lobby. The “R” is for her first name.


Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”


Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”: Mr. Nichols shadow box and initial collageI had lots of fun items to include in Ramon’s Dad’s box! He was an avid fisherman, an accomplished gardener, a devout Catholic, and a proud member of the NRA. I also included his pocket watch and compass from his days with the railroad as well as a railroad spike. Beneath his box is a Hobby Lobby craft deer head that lauds his abilities as a hunter. As with my Dad’s shadow box, Mr. Nichols has railroad tracks encircling.


Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”: Vintage-look iron door handles and stars collageYou may wonder about the various keys and vintage-look door handles. These represent the keys to our past and the many doors opened from one generation to the next. The stars at the very top of the gallery represent those who have gone on to heaven.


Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”: vintage railroad spikes


Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “All Because Two People Fell In Love – A Gallery Wall”: vintage violin in caseI wanted to carry some of the themes from the gallery wall throughout the library. On the desk is a handful of railroad spikes, and on the secretary is a violin first played by my Mother’s Mother (my maternal Grandmother) back in the late 1920s and passed down through the generations.

Our library gallery wall is still a work in progress. I hope to fill this room over time with the many artifacts that reach back into history to tell our story of what happened when two people fell in love!

I am still on the mend from my January 8 spine surgery with little chance of getting back to tablescaping any time soon. Please hang in there with me. I miss you all so much and want to get back to doing what I love sooner than later. Meanwhile, THANK YOU for all the emails, texts, cards, gifts, phone calls, prayers, and general outpouring of love and affection!!! It’s been like Valentine’s Day for me this whole past month! (Except Valentine’s Day doesn’t hurt like this!!! 🙂 )
Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours!!!

Published! Kansas City At Home Magazine

Hello, friends! I am still recuperating from my January 8 spine surgery without much good news to report. The searing pain has persisted despite going under the knife and following all post-op instructions, and I am back on the walker…again! In fact, post-op has been more difficult than anything I have ever experienced. I was readmitted for 5 days the day with ghastly reactions to some of the pain medication I’d been on. Shoulder surgery was a breeze compared to this nightmare!!! I have an MRI and another visit with the neurosurgeon for Tuesday afternoon. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that he has nothing but good news for me!
(Click on any photo, then click again to enlarge/enhance it.)

Kansas City At Home Magazine, January 2015 coverMeanwhile, I found out the day before surgery that the January 2015 issue of Kansas City At Home magazine in which some of my work is featured was on newsstands and online. I was interviewed along with two Kansas City floral designers whose work I have long admired. Not for nothin’, I was quoted the most, two of my original tablescape photos were used (as opposed the stock photos used for the rest of the article), and my “fail-safe entertaining tips” are exclusively featured online! If you’d like to take a look, just click HERE! Who’d have thunk it, y’all…I’m a tastemaker! 🙂

The posts from which the two photos were taken for the 4-page magazine spread were “Rolling Fields of Green” from 2013 and “Diamonds Are A Material Girl’s Best Friend” from 2014.

This offers a clue as to just how freaked out I was just prior to surgery. Look at the look on my face!!!!!!!

This offers a clue as to just how freaked out I was just prior to surgery. Look at that look on my face!!!!!!!


My neurosurgeon, Dr. Hylton, at least loosened me up a bit with his dry wit.

My handsome neurosurgeon, Dr. Hylton, at least loosened me up a bit with his dry wit.


Walking for the first time the evening of surgery. I don't even remember taking this. Apparently, my son was keeping me from "mooning" everyone!

Walking for the first time the evening of surgery. I don’t even remember this. Apparently, my son was keeping me from “mooning” everyone! I can’t walk like this now. I’m hobbling along on the walker, dragging my right leg behind me. Things are no better than pre-surgery. 😦

Posting is difficult because I’m still unable to sit for more than 30 minutes at a time. I hope to get things fixed once and for all so that I can get back to Blogland sooner than later. As you might guess, I am bored out of my skull!!! I’ve been a pinning fool on Pinterest, though, so you might want to check that out and follow some of my boards!

Have a fun Super Bowl weekend, and I hope to see you again soon!

Down, But Don’t Count Me Out!

Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “Down, But Not Out”


Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “Down, But Not Out”The look on my face says it all: My back has finally pooped out on me, and I am scheduled for surgery Thursday morning, January 8. I knew this would all eventually catch up with me, and the pain has reached a point where I can no longer independently function. So…check-in at 9:30 a.m. (CST) with surgery at 11:00. I’m told it should take about 1-1/2 hours.


Patiently waiting for the horrors of the EMG and myelogram to begin.

Patiently waiting for the horrors of the EMG and myelogram to begin.


I have no good veins in my arm, so they went for the hand...AGAIN!!!

I have no good veins in my arm, so they went for the hand…AGAIN!!!

The neurosurgeon will focus on a nerve that is trapped in a canal due to a hideous bone spur that has developed between L4 and L5 of my spine that looks kind of like this:


We’ll worry about the discs – a whole different issue – another day. Meanwhile, what does this feel like? Think perpetual root canal across the lower back and down your leg, AND being stabbed, AND your leg feeling like everything in it is being stretched to the point of popping, AND being unable to feel your foot much of the time.
In other words, it hurts like hell!!! 🙂


My Mommy served me  a lovely breakfast in bed while "babysitting" me New Year's Day.

My Mommy served me a lovely breakfast in bed while “babysitting” me New Year’s Day. (Isn’t my hair just lovely?! 😉 )


Mom also whipped up a wonderful New Year's Day dinner with blackeyed peas and collard greens for prosperity.

Mom also whipped up a wonderful New Year’s Day dinner with blackeyed peas and collard greens for prosperity. Check it out…SHE EVEN SERVED IT UP ON A SILVER CHARGER!!!


Mom playing "Nurse Ratched/Dr. Jekyll" :-)

Mom playing “Nurse Ratched/Dr. Jekyll”. She’s helping me to maintain my sense of humor. 🙂

I hope you will think good thoughts on my behalf so that I can sail through this. Quite frankly, I am scared out of my wits. Needles, blood, and incomprehensible multi-syllable Latin words are my Kryptonite. They leave me weak and confused! 🙂


Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One,, “Down, But Not Out”

Hobbling along with my trusty walker. I need some PINK tennis balls!



Back at home on Tuesday night, awaiting surgery on Thursday morning.

Back at home on Tuesday night, counting down the hours ’til surgery on Thursday morning.

I hope to return to tablescaping in time for Spring inspiration. I hope you’ll hang in there with me. Laying around these last few weeks has given me nothing but time to create in my head, so I hope to come back strong in body, spirit, and creativity.


It will all be just fine! I'm putting my trust in God.

It will all be just fine! I’m putting my trust in God. I will also be in the capable hands of my patient, sweet husband who has been a gem these past weeks, my sweet and loving Mom, my best friend who has promised to come as soon as they wheel me out to slather moisturizer on my face and feet 🙂 (can’t have any lotions on during surgery…or I might catch on fire!), and my incredible neighbors.

Happy New Year! Nichols…..OUT!!!