Bellini Birthday Brunch

BELLINI BIRTHDAY BRUNCH
(a re-post from August 2009)

 In 2009 we celebrated my stepdaughter’s birthday with an open house brunch. As a hint of what was to come, guests were greeted by our jolly old English butler, Geoffrey, offering coffee and a donut on the front porch.
  Upon entering the foyer, guests were offered peach Bellinis served in cut crystal Mikasa flutes displayed on a beautiful silver tray.
 The dining room was set for six with fun coffee motif placemats from Bed Bath & Beyond.
I like to use edible centerpieces on tablescapes whenever possible. This one includes lots of fresh fruit stacked on glass cake plateaus, accented by aromatic roasted coffee beans and simple bouquets of colorful alstroemeria.
 Set up on the buffet behind the table is a scrumptious coffee bar with variety sugars and liqueurs. The silver Victorian sugar scuttle and rock candy sticks are fun details that help it all special. The faux mother-of-pearl handled flatware from Target is set end-to-end for visual impact. I created the fun coffee bar sign using an inexpensive miniature chalkboard from Hobby Lobby. Displaying it on the gold easel makes it look a little bit fancier despite the unfinished wood frame.
 Fun touches like this chalkboard cow from J’Adore in Kansas City, MO, make the buffet service area a little more fun. The kitchen pigs presiding over the chafers and condiments are from Stein Mart.
 A juice bar was set up near the buffet, with each serving vessel accented with corresponding fresh fruit slices. Name tags are displayed on card holders resembling miniature coffee pots.

Informally Formal: Marrying modern and classic in your table setting

My 4-minute segment on yesterday’s “Better Kansas City” show on KCTV-5 was all about “informally formal” entertaining at home!

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 LinenTablecloth.com 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”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Sunflower Simple

Before my tablescape, the winner of the silver pedestal bowl giveaway is……….

 
Linda at A Toile Tale!!!

Congratulations, Linda! We all look forward to seeing how you use this beautiful piece in an upcoming tablescape! (Ramon pulled your name and – typical husband – had no idea how to pronounce the word “toile.” I just gleefully watched him struggle with it for a few seconds before I finally came to his rescue! 🙂

Thanks to everyone who entered, and don’t despair….there will be another chance to win another silver lovely in the near future. Watch for details! It’s going to be a biggie!!! Meanwhile…

I have finally given in to autumn with this simple, casual, budget-friendly fall tablescape. As the evenings get cooler, meals like chili, beef stew, soup, and corn chowder become the entrée du jour!

We live about 15 minutes from the border of Kansas, The Sunflower State. How could I own an umbrella like this and not do something that pays tribute to our next-door-neighbor? 🙂

These Maxcera “Terra Cotta Sunflower” dishes purchased from TJ Maxx a couple of years ago are very popular for an autumn tablescape, but I’ve only recently had a chance to use them. I like the ruffly edges, the fun design, and the bold color. An open-weave square Pier 1 placemat anchors the place setting. Off-centering the bowl lets the plate design show in full.

A bold mustard-colored napkin from Bed Bath & Beyond lies beneath the non-traditional placement of stainless flatware. You may have noticed that the dessert fork is placed off-center at the top of the plate.

I think I bought these dark green stems at Pier 1 several years ago. Hard to remember…my mind is failing me. Anyway, they nicely pick up the green in the dishes and keep the table from getting too monochromatic yellow. Whenever a beverage bottle is nice enough, like these S. Pellegrino classics, I like to make it a part of the tablescape.

Two towering centerpieces are made up of mustard yellow ceramic pots topped with garden obelisks from Hobby Lobby. Simple, slow-growing “Teddy Bear” arborvitae from the nursery are plopped in for color and texture. (Click HERE to see another tablescape using wrought iron obelisks.)

Although sunflowers would have been the obvious choice here, I often like to pull for the underdog which in this case is something smaller but complementary: simple yellow alstroemeria in tiny green glass vases.

Tiny yellow glass votive holders add a little atmospheric light.

A sunflower bowl from T.J. Maxx holds crackers for the evening meal.

Casual…simple…sunflowers!

Please join me and lots of very talented tablescapers from around the globe for Susan’s weekly blog party, Tablescape Thursday. Have a happy week, and congrats once again to Linda at A Toile Tale!

Tee Mit Hans Dresden (Tea With Hans Dresden)

This is the story of how a little girl’s curiosity (and hard-headedness!) got her into deep trouble, but  became a lasting memory. I want to thank my Mother for (1) letting me live after what I did on that fateful day some 46 years ago; (2) sharing with me the story of how she came to acquire this lovely tea set, and; (3) passing it on to me for a memory I will always cherish.

It isn’t often I get to share afternoon tea with friends, but when I do it is held near and dear to my heart. For this particular occasion, it was to celebrate recent accomplishments by each attendee. (An engagement, a retirement, and a new career. Hence the champagne & Godiva chocolates for all!!!)

My mother was gifted with this lovely Hans Dresden set back in the 1940s. My father’s nephew, who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, picked it up for her during his tour in Germany just before the city of Dresden was severely damaged by British & U.S. bombing. Little did anyone know of what great sentimental value this set would be some 65 years later.

I purchased these lovely embroidered cotton luncheon napkins years ago while on my honeymoon in New Orleans.

Let me explain/confess something. (Uh-oh…this takes me back about 45 years!) My mother had the entire set with coffee & tea pots, cups, saucers, dessert plates, and ashtrays! (Don’t give me that look! Smoking was perfectly acceptable…even encouraged…by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars “back in the day.”) As a child, much like now, I loved to play house. Despite many admonitions, I decided one day to play with Mom’s Dresden set. The result: the clumsy hands of a 6-year-old were no match for the delicate china. I irreparably broke several pieces of the set, and other pieces – like the pot above – were chipped. When my Mom gave me this fractured but nonetheless loved set a couple of years ago for my own collection, we had a good laugh…quite contrary to her reaction when I ruined it 46 years ago!!!

I did not prepare the sweets for this get-together, but I am grateful for the local pastilerias that did!

The centerpiece was composed of simple alstroemeria arranged in a tall, milky glass trumpet vase flanked by two smaller arrangements.

This was a wonderful afternoon spent with wonderful women – my mother included – who by all accounts forgive my past transgression of putting Hans in harm’s way.

Footnote: I saw this very set – in mint condition – on WorthPoint the other day. I was too afraid to look at how much it would be worth today had I not so tragically trashed it!

Other teatime tablescapes on this site include:
Tea Roses
Coming Up Roses
Hello, Dahlia!

This week for the first time ever, I am pleased to join Lady Katherine and all the fine ladies for Tea Time Tuesday. If you enjoy fine tea accoutrement, exquisitely set tea tables and ladies’ gatherings as much as I do, please check out other bloggers’ photos & stories on her site!

TEA TIME TUESDAY

Shake Your Tail Feather

I am head over heels delighted to have designed an autumn tablescape in the very tastefully appointed home of Bob & Jean Sloan! Jean, owner of Invitations by Jean, has long been a colleague and friend. I have looked to her for fine stationery – invitations, menus, escort cards and more – for numerous fine weddings over the years.  I fell absolutely in love the first time I laid eyes on her traditionally furnished dining room. Jean’s remarkably refined taste is already apparent in the space, and my job was just to put the cherry on top with this lush table for 6.

The formal nature of my friend Jean Sloan’s dining room dictated a decidedly staid autumn tablescape with a few not-so-serious twists.

 

The crystal teardrops of Jean’s dazzling chandelier are repeated across the table set for 6 with the centerpiece, stemware and candle holders.

 

Plump red grapes, dotted with stray alstroemeria blooms, cascade over the side of the crystal epergne. (My husband will be eating leftover grapes for weeks to come!)

 

Clusters of richly colored alstroemeria are arranged in cut crystal Godinger “Olympia” rose bowls. The reddish-brown color adds the “oomph” needed to rescue the tablescape from looking too monochromatic.

 

Pheasant feathers plopped into cut crystal bud vases create a stir at each end of the table. They not only complement the colors and theme of the dishware, but add texture to the tablescape.

 

Gorgeous cut crystal votive holders add shimmer close to the table surface.

 

The rich dark wood of Jean’s dining table was the perfect backdrop to the burnished gold chargers topped with brown transferware dinner and salad plates. The oak leaf-shaped soup bowl is from Pier 1. The flatware is Royal Danish sterling silver, a treasured gift from my Mom’s collection.

 

I found the beautiful dishware with this exquisite peacock motif at a boutique called Home Finishings here in Lee’s Summit. The price tag caused a little agony, but I finally caved and bought enough for 12. SO worth it!!! This close-up shows the intricate pastoral pattern that depicts the proud creature displaying his lush plumage as his less fortunate feathered friends look on. (See these beautiful dishes used again HERE.)

 

Another fun twist to an otherwise traditionally set table are these jumbo carved wood acorns atop each napkin. I picked these up at Pier 1 a couple of years ago.

 

I love the intricate diamond-shaped cutwork in the Cristal d’Arques Longchamps stemware. The stemware design mimics that of the centerpiece epergne and crystal bowls. Notice here, too, the pretty crystal knife rests. People don’t use those a lot anymore, but I find them both pretty and practical.

 

Many thanks to Jean Sloan for letting me fulfill a fantasy autumn tablescape!

A few other autumn tablescapes on this site include:
Italian Honeysuckle
Most Egg-cellent Breakfast
Copper Zen
Celebrating Longview Farm
Casual Fall Harvest Dinner
September Harvest Breakfast
Pumpkins & Peacocks
Wondrous Wheat
Pheasants & Peacocks
Best Laid Plans
Serape High Style
Sunflower Simple
Raining Orchids
September Wine
Autumn Blues

This is my very first time participating in Tablescape Thursdays on the Between Naps on the Porch blog site. If you would like to see lots of other tablescapers’ creations, just click on the Between Naps on the Porch link to your right.