Building a Better Brunch Buffet

Dropping back in to share with you this morning’s “Better Kansas City” show segment on Building a Better Brunch Buffet! (Try saying that 3 times fast!!!) This quickie 3:45 piece focuses more on structure and execution than the actual dishes, but it’s kinda fun!

And here are a few still photos!

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Join me for brunch!

 

Chatting on the set with “Better Kansas City” co-host Gina Bullard.

 

Linen-lined baskets are always a great way to display breads!

 

Be sure to go both high and low on your food display.

 

Lots of color comes to the table via the foods you choose. Have fun with it!

 

Place plates in two stacks on the end of a double-sided buffet table. Pictured here: gorgeous cobalt blue, yellow and white “Mirandela” plates from Pier 1 Imports.

 

 

Here I used a single large centerpiece – a mass of Spring daffodils in a large white base – that adds another dimension of height, texture, and color without interfering with food service.

Thank you so much for stopping in, and Happy Spring!

To see other Springtime brunch tablescapes on this site, click HERE (Springtime in Paris Buffet), HERE, (Easter Brunch), and HERE (Taste of Wine Buffet).

To see another tablescape using the Pier 1 “Mirandela” plates, click HERE.

The Bluebird Special – In My Mother’s Honor/My Brother’s Memory

It’s going to take forever to write this, but this time I’m going to do it……………

I love my parents. They put up with a LOT from me when I was a kid. I mean A LOT, people!!! I was crazy!!! If I had a daughter like me, I would have put her in a nunnery and not just throw away the key, but melt it into a doorstop to make the door more secure!!! They hung in there, though…especially my Mom. Frustrated and befuddled as she may have been, she hung in there. Throughout my life she has weathered my boyfriends, husbands, breakups, career changes, household moves, hairstyles, and even my “I just want to experience life” crap. My Mom has been good to me and good for me. For all three of us – Berishia (who I call Barf), Jay (my little brother who I called Hemorrhoid because he was such a pain in the @$$!), and me (who Jay called “Erica” as in Erica Kane because of the aforementioned “husbandS” thing!). She has been a role model and a cheerleader in more ways than I could write without a serious case of carpel tunnel setting in. She has been a Mother and a friend all in one…and that’s not always easy with a kid like me. 🙂

So….my Mom’s birthday is coming up this Friday. I don’t think she’ll mind my telling her age because it’s in her Senate bio and has been splashed across every newspaper and mentioned in every television or print media interview she has ever given. She’ll be 84 years young. And when I say “years young”, believe it!!! She can still out-shop (“rag pullin'” as she calls it), out-party, and out-dance me by a mile. (I suffer from extreme “Elaineism” when it comes to dancing…y’all know that “Seinfeld” episode!) This woman stirs Eveready® batteries in with her oatmeal for breakfast!
(Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge it.)

Inspiration collage

INSPIRATION: (1) I almost broke this little pot I found about a month after my little brother, whose trucking handle was “Bluebird” – lost his life in a motorcycle accident. (2) While driving today, I saw 3 of these Pavlich trucks (the company he loved and worked for) when I haven’t seen any in months. It was a sign. I knew it was time.

IFI started this Spring birthday tablescape with a full-length white linen from Linen Tablecloth.

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IFI display the bluebird pot in a guest bedroom. I’ve had it since 1999. When in 2010 when I saw these beautiful “Early Bird” plates & bowls at Pier 1 with the bluebird in the bowl, it hit me right away that I had to have them. I wanted to create a table to honor my brother. For 3 years I tried…and for 3 years, I couldn’t do it. It was just too hard. Still is. So this year, I’m using them to honor my Mother’s birthday – which is joyous and because last year I teased her about eating dinner at “The IHop Hour” which is like 3 in the afternoon when the senior discount starts at IHop restaurants! – and my brother whose memory from this day forward I choose to rejoice in rather than mourn.

IFI ran my sister all over the state of Minnesota looking for these square rattan chargers from Tuesday Morning last year. She shipped them here just in time for my stepdaughter’s birthday dinner party. The faux bamboo flatware was a great buy at JC Penney Outlet.

Stemware, Napkin collageThe stemware are those wonderful green Dollar Tree goblets we all know and love! These are the best buy!!! Attractive, usable in all four seasons and, at just $1 each, unbeatable in value! I bought the napkins, aptly named Spring Tulips, and the green woven napkin rings at Bed, Bath & Beyond several years ago. I like this “bow tie” because it can be both masculine (in black, gray, or some manly pattern) or feminine like it is here in this buttery yellow.

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Centerpiece collageThe centerpiece is a tangle of delicate yellow tulips in white ceramic vases (Michaels), a variety of bird nests filled with eggs, birdhouses, and boxwood balls atop white ceramic pots.

TIP: When using multiple elements in your centerpiece, try not to line everything up straight like soldiers. Try lining up a single element and then “scattering” the rest to break up the uniformity and add visual interest.

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Birdcage & clock collage

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IFThe buffet is simply topped with a wire birdcage and vase full of willowy branches at one end, a vintage-looking clock in the center, and an urn filled with Spanish moss and bird eggs on the opposite end.

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Tea cart collage

Finally, the tea cart is made ready for coffee or tea with “Early Bird” mugs and a white teapot from Home Goods.

Mom & Alycia Collage II

Clockwise: Mom & me when I was 3 months old; Mom & chillin’ on a Sunday afternoon; Mom, Jimmo &  me at last year’s Mother’s Day dinner at our house; Mom, Barf (hands on skinny little hips) & me; Mom & me at Mario Tricoci Salon; Mom & me at her 80th birthday dinner at our house. Center photo: Mom, Daddy & me before they headed out to a gala

Mom & Alycia Collage III

Clockwise: Ramon, Mom & me celebrating my 50th birthday in the nerd…uh, computer store; Mom & me doing that Grape Nuts commercial thing where the mother is mistaken for the daughter (we do weird stuff like that!); Mom & me at her campaign party; Barf, Mom & me at Thanksgiving 2010; Kelly, Mom & me celebrating Mother’s Day at our house, 2010; in the parking lot upon my return from living & working on Capitol Hill in D.C. Center photo: Mom, me & famed hairstylist/entrepreneur Mario Tricoci (he cut her hair!!!)

Mom & Alycia Collage IV

Clockwise from top: Mom & me at Bruce R. Watkins Center; at my cousin’s wedding; at Watkins Center again (we spend a lot of time there!); at my parents’ home before heading out to the Rod Stewart concert; posing like the Doublemint Twins! Center: Mom & me at her 81st birthday luncheon at our house.

Mom & Alycia Collage I

Me being the very annoying kid I am giving Mom the bunny ears; kissing her little head at her 80th birthday party at our house; my sister, niece (kneeling), Mom & me at one of her Senatorial pep rally/photo shoots; Mom, Daddy & me on the Missouri Senate floor; we laugh alike!!!; Mom & me at Elton John concert. Center photo: Mom, Daddy, Ramon & me out to dinner at the M&S to celebrate Daddy’s 83rd birthday.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!!!

Jay collage

In memory of Bluebird
July 3, 1960 – Forever in Our Memories

Joining Susan for “Tablescape Thursday”.

For more Spring-inspired tables on this site:
“Rolling Fields of Green”
“Easter Floral”
“Peonies & Pearls”
“Moss & Manzanitas”
“Easter Brunch”
“Spring Has Sprung”
“Taste of Wine Buffet”
“Apple Green Luncheon”
“Barton’s Easter Brunch”
“The Party She Deserves”
“Pinky Peter Cottontail”
“Daffodillyicious”
“Springtime in Paris”
“Welcome Back, Joel”
“Peony Power”
“Carousel Colors”
“Spring” page – featuring 2 Spring tables

Strawberries in the Library

I shared this idea with my first “Art of Tablescaping” students in early March, and I just love it for so many reasons! (Too bad I couldn’t use real strawberries for it…the ladies would have loved that!)

We have a small library in our home that is just the perfect size for a self-serve dessert table. This 30″ round wooden table (the kind you screw the legs into that sells for about $8 at stores like Walmart) is draped in a soft buttery yellow 90″ cotton linen. It’s just the right size for people to walk around without tripping over the existing furniture. The point of setting it up in the library is to get people moving around the house. They can pick up a dessert and then linger to chat or take in the decor. I like to set small stations like this up in 2 or 3 rooms (don’t forget about hallways or the foyer!) starting with hors d’eouvres. Note: Something like this works really great for cocktail parties!!!

 

A 20″H stone urn is filled with a simple arrangement of creamy yellow and ivory roses and centered on the table. (This is real stone. Those little tables can handle a lot of weight! I wouldn’t push my luck, though…opt for the lightest weight you can if using one of these do-it-yourself tables.)

Inexpensive clear wine glasses from Old Time Pottery act as serving vessels. Pictured here are 23 wine glasses, but a 30″ table can accomodate up to about 40 depending on the size and how they are spaced. I opted to leave an artistic open space at the front of the arrangement, but a full circle would work just as well.

Just about any size, color or fun-shaped glasses or serving dishes will do including martini glasses, beer pilsners, champagne flutes, compotes or even tiny dishes the size of votive cups. Desserts served can range from fresh fruits to trifles to plain ol’ Jell-O®. This is also a fun arrangement for hors d’eouvres served in shot glasses, miso spoons, or other such vessels. Try it, too, for a signature drink, champagne, or wine display for guests to pick up on arrival. (Cuts down on the line at the bar!)

A few votives in holders that are a shape similar to the glasses give shimmer and shine to the table. It looks absolutely gorgeous at twilight!!! For a daytime event, simply omit the votives.

I’m linking up with Cuisine Kathleen’s “Let’s Dish!” again this week. Join us, won’t you?

Daffodillyicious Tablescape

Last night brought a close to my first class series, “The Art of Tablescaping – Buffet Styling” through Longview Community College. It was a night I simultaneously dreaded and happily anticipated. All told, I think it went pretty well for my first time at bat, and I’m looking forward to starting the second class series,
The Art of Tablescaping – Sizzlin’ Summer Soirées” on June 12, 2012.

Photo by Sheri L. Grant

To cap this first class series off, everyone grabbed a little snack to munch on while enjoying a slide show of the wonderful buffet tablescapes created by each student. (Cobalt blue martini glasses from Pier 1.) They really did a good job, and their work really showed they had been paying attention! The evening ended with a sit-down awards dinner at a colorful Springtime table specially prepared for these fine ladies. Sure, a buffet meal would have been apropos, but I wanted them to relax after all the hard work and effort they put into their individual tables.

It may have been raining cats and dogs outside, but inside was all about sunshine and blue sky! The Tuscan-style table was decked out in bright cobalt blue and yellow. This would also be a wonderful tablescape for a Spring wedding rehearsal dinner or birthday, and would work just as well outdoors as inside!

Full-length white linens provided a blank slate for the brilliant colors on top. A lemon yellow cotton placemat from Bed Bath & Beyond, turned to drop vertically off the side of the table, hosted a white ceramic charger (Old Time Pottery) and beautiful “Mirandela” dinner plates from Pier 1, topped off with a white-rimmed yellow salad plate from Old Time Pottery. (Click HERE and scroll down to “Sun & Sky” to see these “Mirandela” dinner plates used in a luncheon table setting.)

Bright yellow cotton napkins from Bed Bath & Beyond are cinched at the waist with bold cobalt blue napkin rings (Tuesday Morning) that look very much like jewelry. The flatware is Hampton Silversmith’s “Patriot” in the mirrored finish.

The cobalt blue stemware is from Pier 1.

Scoops of whipped butter in miniature silver Revere bowls and tiny salt and pepper shakers fill in gaps down the table center.

Heavy cobalt blue votive holders bring both color and light to the table’s surface.

Aside from daisies, I just can’t think of a happier flower than the daffodil! Three chunky cobalt blue vases filled with the sunshiny yellow flowers are flanked by silver Revere candlesticks.

Congratulations to the first Art of Tablescaping “graduating class”!!! Desta, Denise, Linda S. 1, Linda S. 2, Marie, Natalie, and Ty…you ladies did a fantastic job! Thank you for making it fun for me, and I hope you have acquired some techniques, skills and knowledge that you can carry with you for a lifetime of buffet-style tablescaping!

To see more posts on this site using cobalt blue:
Peony Power
Brilliant Italian
Blue & White 30th Birthday
Summer Blues & Greens
Surf & Turf Dinner

For more information or to enroll in “The Art of Tablescaping – Sizzlin’ Summer Soirées”, contact the Community Education Department at Longview Community College, 816-604-2030.

Please be sure to join me for Tablescape Thursday again this week. I’m also joining a new blog party this week over at Cuisine Kathleen’s called “Let’s Dish“. Check it out!
Happy Spring, everyone!!! 🙂

Lemonade From Bill

I NEED TO THROW A REAL DINNER PARTY!!! It has been so long! Even if all I serve is beans and weanies…I’m going through serious withdrawals here!!! I know it’s weird, but I can’t just dream up these tables without a target guest or group in mind. I was stumped a couple of weeks ago until I remembered something my friend Bill from Affordable Accoutrements said to me a few weeks ago. If you are not familiar with Bill’s blog, I encourage…no, I INSIST that you pop over there to bathe in his immeasurable talent. Anyway, I was all down in the mouth and Bill tossed out that old adage about turning lemons into lemonade. When he said it, I swore I could hear the theme music from “The Twilight Zone” in the background because I was drinking lemonade at that very moment! Coincidence? I don’t think so. Serendipity? Perhaps. Was Bill spying on me despite the fact he lives hundreds of miles away? I got up and pulled the shades just in case. 😉

So, Bill, I took your sage advice as I set out to create a casual, lemony summer tablescape!

IMG_1290WMAnother example of making lemonade out of lemons: These crazy standard outdoor tables are only 30″ wide. (I need to have a serious talk with the manufacturers!) The narrow dimensions would not allow for the placemats to set properly, so I zig-zagged the seating. I have done this before, and it actually works quite well in practice. You’d be surprised how much your guests appreciate the extra elbow room (think gnawing on ribs or cracking shellfish!) and are still able to chat comfortably with one another. This layout adds a little more visual interest, too!

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IMG_1312WMThe weather finally cooled enough to get out on the deck. Such a shame when we think the mid-90’s is “cooler.” Thankful for the opportunity, though, I took immediate advantage!

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I am so fond of the look a full-length table linen provides. It adds a touch of subtle formality to the most casual table. The base white table linens here are enlivened with lots of sunny, bright yellow. A dark woven placemat from Pier 1 is topped with lemon-laden dinner plates also from Pier 1. Simple yellow cotton napkins from Bed Bath & Beyond hang in a simple vertical fold off the plate.

Contemporary J.A. Henckels “Bellaserra” flatware complements the square plate.

IMG_1303WMAmber stemware with a yellow undertone is set European style at the head of the setting. The champagne flutes are from World Market, and the bubble glass water stems are from TJ Maxx.

Simple clear water carafes are dressed up a bit with a lemon slice.

Tiny bouquets of pale yellow sweetheart roses are placed between place settings.

Yet another reason to close my shades is that Bill’s post last week featured an end centerpiece, too! I think we’re telepathically sucking each other’s brain! Either great minds think alike, or crazy loves company! 🙂

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I echo Bill’s sentiment that an end centerpiece is a great way to balance things out when you have more table than place settings on an oblong table. By placing the smaller arrangements down the center as I did with the sweetheart roses, the theme is repeated but in not such a dramatic fashion. Another advantage of an end centerpiece: Sometimes you have a tall centerpiece arrangement that would go great with your dishes but is better suited for a round table. No problem…put that bad boy on the end! Also great for centerpieces that would otherwise obstruct your guests’ view during dinner conversation.

IMG_1340WMI borrowed the tall yellow ceramic vase from our master suite. I had a massive matching bowl that was broken…check that…obliterated in the recent move. 😦

I bought the creamy yellow tureen from Pottery Barn a couple of years ago. It was marked all the way down to $12. I cradled it like the winning touchdown football at the Super Bowl until I was able to make my way to the check out counter to confirm the unbelievable price! The mix of yellow and cream-colored roses are displayed here in two clear ginger vases as well as clustered in bunches atop stacked cake stands. This is such a lush look and easy to achieve when you haven’t the time/energy/skill/inclination to fuss with an arrangement.

Lemonade out of lemons! Thanks, Bill! I made it through another week!

Both Bill and I will be joining Susan and all the other fabulous tablescapers at Between Naps on the Porch this Thursday for Tablescape Thursday. I hope you’ll join us. There is an awful lot of talent out there! You can also find me at BeBetsy.com!

Thank you for stopping in!

Welcome Back, Joel!

Our young friend from the country of Benin in Africa, Joel Ayatode (pronounced AH-ya-TOW-day), came back to the States this past week. Just as we bid Joel adieu with a farewell dinner last September when he returned to his home country (Summer Breeze), we wanted to do something casual but fun to welcome him back again. His wife, Loretta, offered to do the cooking. ‘Nuff said; game on! 🙂

Teetering on that edge between winter and spring, I dressed the table with elements that reflect this “seasonally challenged” time of year. Looking in the yard, we have both bare trees and the heads of early spring flowers emerging. We’re starting to hear the birds chirping at daybreak, too.

We have all seen these versatile ivory plates from TJ Maxx. I use them frequently because they can so easily switch from one mood to another…kind of like the weather in the Kansas City area! The design also seemed to complement the flowers in linen’s the tree branches.

I bought these oil rubbed bronze napkin rings at Pier One a couple of years ago. I’ve never had a chance to use them until now. I didn’t want to go all Hitchcock and overdo the bird theme with this table, so it is the only other aviary reference besides the table linen.

To keep the look of the table’s center consistent, I used plain clear glass stemware.

Simple banded edge stainless flatware is used so as not to conflict with the busy pattern of the linen.

This is another table linen that I made!!! When I saw the fabric, I just had to have it! I found the deep mustard color very attractive, and the birds in the nearly naked branches reminded me of the fickle change of seasons.

 

This 15.5″ low glass container was used to offset the dead center of the tablescape. Smooth river rock in the water reminded me of a brook. Votive candles nicely reflected off the water, reminding me of how the stars shine on the nearby lake. A simple arrangement of tulips – a sure sign of spring – in the center added height, color, and visual depth.

 

Keeping with the clear glass used in the center, I filled these narrow cylinders with tulips. Placing two small vases on each end rather than one seemed more interesting than a single larger vase.


To mimic the linen pattern and to add lots of height to the center arrangement, I used curly willow branches in tall class cylinders. This added to the natural, outdoorsy feel.

The simple addition of 15 clear glass cylindrical votives subtly lights the buffet adjacent to the dining table.

After a wonderful and VERY filling meal prepared by Loretta’s loving hands, it was time for dessert. While this had absolutely nothing to do with the theme of the dinner party, I just thought it would be fun to honor our special guests with their monogram on the cake and cupcakes I made! These old arthritic hands could barely squeeze the icing out! 🙂


L to R: Incredibly patient husband Ramon, very helpful stepdaughter Robyn, our guests of honor Joel & Loretta Ayatode, and Robyn’s sweet & comical longtime friend Kamille Jefferson. (Joel’s eyes look a little tired in this photo. Poor thing was suffering serious jet lag from the 15+ hour trip!)

Pudgy little ol’ me just before the guests arrive. Notice how I placed the watermark on the photo to try to cover up my problem area! I’ll need much bigger lettering than this!!! 🙂

We entertain a lot at home. Click here or on the “Fun Stuff” tab above to see more “just for fun” celebrations, or click on any tab above to see a collection of a dinner party table type you’re looking for!

More tablescapes using curly willow on this site:
Blushing Bridal
Copper Zen
Autumn Blues

I hope it’s much closer to spring where you are today! Thanks for stopping by, and don’t forget to check out the work of all the other incredibly talented tablescapers at Susan’s Tablescape Thursday!

Pears and Pinecones

Click here and scroll down to see all photos for this post.

Not even stormy skies and a brief power outage could dampen our dinner party spirits! It just added to the ambiance!

This is the first of many autumn tablescapes to come. This season will feature everything from soft and subdued (tonight), to haunting beauty (Halloween), to sheer elegance. The rich hues of the season allow for so many decorating opportunities, and I look forward to sharing a few of my interpretations with you! And just so you know, I’m not real big on Halloween, but this year I’m going to give it a try just the same!

Cheers, everyone, and best of the fall season to you and yours! For more (and better lit!) photos, please click here or on the “Autumn” tab above. And don’t forget to visit the new “Table Tips” section for lots of nifty ideas!