Bringing the Zing to Chinese Takeout 

Once again earlier this year I was a guest on the “Better Kansas City” show. Getting up, dressed, and out the door that early is a real challenge for me, but I really enjoy it every time. This day was particularly fun with tips on creating a tablescape that presents Chinese takeout like a boss! CLICK on the video below to watch the 2-1/2-minute clip from the show, and after that are a few still photos I was able to snap with my iPad. (Time is very short on the set prior to going live, so I’m lucky to squeeze in a few pics!)

 


When I set up these demonstration tables on the set, remember…they are probably more narrow than your typical dining room table by about 12″ or so. The demo table is 6-ft. in length, but only 30″ wide compared to our 42″ wide dining table at home. That being said, you’d have more center space for food, additional decor, or just blank real estate than what’s shown here.

 


Each place setting has a black acrylic square charger (Walmart) topped with an Asian-themed 222 Fifth square plate (“Mia Blossom”) and small rice bowl from Pier 1 Imports. Pier 1 is a terrific place to buy globally themed dishes and decor! If you don’t have one near you, their website is pretty easy to navigate. (Too tall for this television demo, but a vase or two with a simple arrangement of cherry blossoms would be perfect for this tablescape!!)

 


Not everyone is adept at using chopsticks, so as a courtesy to your guests you may want to add flatware such as this faux bamboo stainless. Use the wooden chopsticks typically provided by the restaurant, or consider investing in a pair of permanent ones like these stainless steel beauties resting on a black onyx holder from a local specialty store. The white miso spoons here are from Pier 1. The “Capri” porcelain spice cellars by Gallery Tabletops are from T.J. Maxx and are great for spices or sauces at individual place settings.

 


Each place setting has a little something extra in the way the bamboo fan favors and black napkins, folded to resemble a Chinese sash, are presented in a red silk takeout box from Pier 1.

 


Teapot and cups from World Market.

 


White sake set from World Market. I picked up the Chinese robe wine bottle cover at Tuesday Morning a couple of years ago.


As I pointed out on the show, sometimes food is just so beautiful you might consider using it as a centerpiece. While this sushi is just a pretty good fake for demonstration purposes, it represents the real thing which always abounds in color, form, and texture…perfect elements for a gorgeous centerpiece!

If you’d like to see more tablescapes with an Asian flair for Chinese New Year or anytime Chinese food presentation just needs a little gussying up, check out these posts:
Peaceful Peonies
Year of the Rabbit
Chinese Takeout
Mum’s the Word/Zen Garden
Mikasa Daylight (Design #2)
Float Like A Butterfly
Mandarin Bling
Blue & White 30th Birthday
Copper Zen

Chinese Takeout

I’ve been MIA thanks to aggravating the herniated discs in my lower back. If you’ve never experienced lying in bed in a brace for days on end, believe me….you have been spared a living hell!!!!!!!! Anyhoooo…I’m able to at least sit at my desk for short periods now, so I wanted to hit you with this sort of transitional summer-to-fall tablescape I created about a month ago. No traditionally autumnal elements involved, but the rich colors march in time with late summer/early fall. This tablescape would also be great for Chinese New Year, a casual birthday gathering, or even an Asian-inspired rehearsal dinner.

This time of year starts to get really busy, so what’s a girl to do when faced with a dinner party for which she only has the time and energy to either cook OR decorate? If you’re THIS girl, you decorate and order Chinese takeout!
(Click on any photo, then click again to enhance/enlarge it.)

INSPIRATION: Beautiful floral toss pillows from Home Goods that usually hang out in our living room. The design worked well with the Asian theme.

INSPIRATION: Beautiful floral toss pillows from Home Goods that usually hang out in our living room. The fabric design worked well with the Asian theme.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Full deck

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Multiple place settings

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Single place settingThis table for 6 starts with a full-length ivory tablecloth from LinenTablecloth.com. A raw silk runner adorned with bamboo images is centered on the table. The place settings are made up of stone-colored dishes purchased years ago at Tuesday Morning. The rice bowl and plate are separated by a simply-folded ivory napkin from LinenTablecloth.com.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Flatware, Chopsticks, Miso Spoons, Teacup collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Black stemware from Dollar TreeThe “Cambridge”faux bamboo flatware is from Home Goods. It is set to the right of the dishes to make room for the intricately carved chopsticks and a red miso spoon from Pier 1 Imports. Each place setting has a traditionally-shaped teacup (World Market) and a very American water glass in a smoky black (Dollar Tree).

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Centerpiece

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Buddha, orchid, candle arrangement with stones collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Black Asian-inspired votive holdersI enjoyed creating this soothing centerpiece. I had all of these items already in my inventory and have used some of them in various other centerpiece designs. For instance, the rectangular vessels lined with smooth river stones, filled with water and then topped with floating candles were used in a very different way in Hooray for Vodka! The gold Buddha figurines at each end of the table were used at each place setting for the post Peaceful Peonies nearly 3 years ago. I bought the votive holders – used here to visually connect the mirror image elements at each end at a wholesale clearance sale many years ago. The pieces of bamboo laid on the table also act as visual connectors and tie in with the images on the runner.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Seating areaI like to create an inviting outdoor lounge space for guests to hang out before and after dinner that works with the theme of the dining table.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Coffee Table

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Tea tray

 Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Teapot, teacups, miso spoons collageThe coffee table – or tea table as it were – is set up with a tray holding a beautiful red teapot and the same black teacups found on the dining table from World Market. Another of the black votive holders is here, too, for added ambience. The miso spoons set upon black slabs of slate are for serving cocktail hour hors d’oeuvres. I set up miso spoons in a similar fashion for my stepdaughter’s 30th birthday celebration buffet, Blue & White 30th Birthday.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Side table

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Side table collageThe side table in the corner is set with items that coordinate with elements on the dining table. The bright red orchid makes the area stand out a bit more and visually connects with the single orchid blooms used on the dining table.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Paper lantern collageI bought these lighted paper lanterns with a bamboo design in the clearance section at Target many years ago and have never used them. They really add to the overall ambience and look great against the night sky. They were very easy to put up with the permanent hangers I installed earlier this year.

Other Asian-inspired tablescapes on this site:
Mandarin Bling
Copper Zen
Float Like A Butterfly
Mikasa Daylight (Design #2)
Year of the Rabbit
Zen Garden
Mum’s the Word
Peaceful Peonies
Blue & White 30th Birthday

I am linking up this week with:
Christine at Rustic & Refined for “Table It!”
Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday

Moss & Manzanitas

We’re under a stupid winter storm watch here in the Midwest. Wednesday night into Thursday is supposed to get really ugly. Stock-up-on-supplies-and-pull-out-the-longjohns ugly. (Mine actually have a Dennis the Menace flap in the back! :-)) So as we brace ourselves for a less-than-pleasant end of the week, I’m getting more and more anxious for Spring to arrive.
(Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge it.)

DSCN1448WMThe concept for this table for 8 started back in January when I made an appearance on a local morning show here in Kansas City. (Click HERE to see the post, “Ready for My Close-Up, Mr. DeMille” with video clip and start-to-finish photos.) I set up a buffet table that would work well for this weird in-between stage when the bareness of Winter is still painfully evident, but Spring is just a stone’s throw away. On that buffet, I used a lot of bling along with the moss and manzanitas that would have been great for a bridal luncheon or a 60th wedding anniversary, traditionally dubbed in the U.S. as the “diamond anniversary.” The post with that television appearance does include photos so you can compare that buffet setting to this sit-down one.

DSCN1395WMWhile diamonds are absolutely a girl’s best friend (well…diamonds and Spanx! :-)), for this more casual table I wanted to use “rocks” of a different kind. Hence the abundance of smooth river rock nestled around the manzanita “tree” centerpiece.

DSCN1387WMNothing says Spring like color, and this citrusy green dinner plate really grabs your attention! (Dollar Tree, folks! Dollar Tree!!! If you don’t have one in your area, petition the company to build one there!!!)

Flatware, napkin, menu collageA plain white cotton napkin is wrapped around a tri-color menu and topped with a single stone. The natural look of bamboo in the flatware further complements the setting.

IF

DSCN1428WMUnadorned clear glass stemware gets an upgrade with the addition of individual bottles of chilled wine. I like using these mini bottles from World Market to dress a casual table, but always have plenty of the big boys on hand as well. Some guests take the minis home as a souvenir, others drink it on the spot.

IF

DSCN1432WM

IFThe centerpiece is made up of these cool manzanita branches I bought last year at Gordmans. When I first used them last Halloween I gave them a much more ghastly graveyard look. Here they take on a totally new role, dotted with white orchid blooms as if Spring is making its first appearance. With all the moss (the famous Moss Bridge, not to mention the mossy hillsides) and the stone (stone walls, the Blarney Stone), this would make a great table for St. Patrick’s Day!!!

IFI just love the color and texture and smell of reindeer moss! It’s so…woodsy! I tucked little sprigs of it among the branches as well as loading up on it at the base of the branch structure.

IFI found these fun-shaped ceramic vases at Home Goods about a year ago. They help extend the bright, invigorating color of the lime green plates and reindeer moss from the dining table to the buffet behind it.

Buffet cake, flatware, lg. floral collage

DSCN1407WM

IF

I want to extend a HUGE thank you to The Home Girl for naming my blog as one of her “Five Fabulous Finds” and to Jenna at The Painted Apron for listing me among her picks for “Very Inspiring Blogger”! It’s always uplifting to receive recognition from fellow bloggers, and I appreciate it very much! These ladies both have an enviable array of weekly posts on tablescaping, recipes, home organization & decor…their talents abound! If you’ve not seen their blogs, I most certainly recommend that you treat yourself!

This week I’ll be joining Cuisine Kathleen for her weekly blog party, “Let’s Dish!“, The Style Sisters for “Centerpiece Wednesday“, and Susan for “Tablescape Thursday“. Join me, and you’ll be able to see the work of talented tablescapers from all around the world. It’s really cool to see decor from places like Sweden (Chubby ‘N Chieque), India (Crystal Grandeur), Australia (Desire Empire), and, of course, right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.!

Other tablescapes on this site to help you prepare to entertain this Spring:
“Spring Has Sprung”
“Welcome Back, Joel!”
“Apple Green Luncheon”
“Mum’s the Word”
“Carousel Colors”
“Springtime in Paris Mother’s Day Brunch”
“Peony Power”
“Daffodillyicious”
“Taste of Wine Buffet”
“Mikasa Daylight Giveaway”
“Daisy Crazy”

Mandarin Bling

Regained a smidge of my creative mojo, y’all!
This is the first tablescape I have created since…well, you know! 😉

I’ve been in a creative slump lately, drowning in the cesspool of the last couple of months. I recently decided to surface, catch my breath, and get my hips back to tablescaping!!! 🙂 I drew inspiration from Alberto Pinto’s book “Table Settings”. (Click here or on the “Books That Make You Go Ooh!” tab above to read my review.) I was drawn to his continental style that is markedly different and quite dramatic. Hence, the color palate used here is bright Mandarin orange, blue and white.

 

To create this Oriental tablescape with European style, I started with a starched white floor-length cotton table linen. Floor-length in this case was a must to convey the relative formality of the evening. A 13″ round mirrored charger is topped with Ralph Lauren’s “Mandarin Blue” dinner and salad plates. The plates have two separate but complementary designs. Other pieces in Lauren’s “Mandarin Blue” have orange flourishes.

IMG_1116WM

I created the menus using a lightweight neon orange cardstock layered with white. A clip art Mandarin symbol adorns the front of each and separates the listed courses.

Now that my mojo is back, my love of energetic color has returned as well. Cobalt blue water goblets from Pier 1 team up with Crystal d’Arques wine glasses and fun orange martinis in which dessert would be served. (Orange martinis found at Old Time Pottery.) This eclectic but complementary mix is typical Alberto Pinto style.

With dishes in a pattern called “Mandarin Blue”, it seemed fitting to use flatware with an Asian influence. Adding a pair of chopsticks alongside the bamboo stainless flatware offers those with the necessary skills a chance to eat in an authentic manner.

IMG_1172WM

IMG_1179WMThe centerpiece is composed of 29″H clear pilsner vases topped with bright orange rose balls that are visually “connected” by crystal garlands. A single crystal prism, suspended from the bottom of the rose ball, dances in the light of 25″ Paradise candles. (Click here to see another table decorated with rose balls. Click here or on the “Table Tips” tab above – Tip #27 – to see how the prisms are discreetly attached.)

Gilded servants from Z Gallerie offer another level of intimate candlelight.

IMG_1121WMThe buffet display has a Z Gallerie 24″ orange wooden tray tucked behind an oversized ginger jar from Home Goods. More servants with votive candles stand guard in front of the display. Tea service uses “Mandarin Blue” cups and saucers along with a simply designed teapot from Home Goods.

Though very non-traditional in color & style for the holiday, this tablescape would be great for Chinese New Year!

So…who says eating Chinese takeout is just for college students and sitcom characters? “Homey don’t play that!” 🙂 For me, it’s all about the Mandarin Bling!!!

Other Asian-inspired tablescapes on this site:
Year of the Rabbit
Peaceful Peonies
Copper Zen
Mikasa ‘Daylight’ Giveaway

You are invited to join Susan at Between Naps on the Porch along with a bevy of wonderfully talented tablescapers for Tablescape Thursday. You can also catch me over at BeBetsy.com. See you there!

Tropicana

Acclaimed Japanese writer Haruki Murakami wisely wrote, “And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain: When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

That’s how I can best sum up my feelings about what happened when we recently packed up our lives and moved to Georgia, only to move back within the week. And while we are still weathering that storm, trying to make sense of it all, trying to learn from its harsh, hurtful, and very expensive lessons…I know that storms are a mere hiccup and that sunny days will prevail.

That being said, I want to celebrate my return to Blogland after a two-month absence with a bright, colorful, cheerful summer tablescape.IMG_3315WM

 IMG_3330WM
We’re not quite completely settled back in yet and we probably won’t be entertaining guests for awhile, so I thought I’d share photos of a dinner party from last summer that I never published. (Believe me: In this record breaking heat, we would not be eating outside anyway!!!)

Summer is definitely a time for bright, tropical-flavored colors. This table for four started with a shockingly pink floor-length table linen from LinenTablecloth.com. (A word of caution about LinenTablecloth: In my experience, their customer service is just horrible at times, so choose wisely and read the fine print!) A pair of Pier 1 multi-colored matchstick table runners crisscross to anchor the setting.

A trio of paper parasols from Hobby Lobby extend the table colors across the deck.

These have got to be among my favorite summer dishes: ruffled melamine chargers in aqua (Crate & Barrel), topped with a simple white Corelle dinner plate to break up the color a little, finished off with a fun tropical-themed salad plate from Pier 1. The stainless “bamboo” flatware is from Target.

IMG_3327WM

Exotically swirled aqua in the Pier 1 stemware reminds me of the ocean. The butterfly-meets-flower straws are also from Pier 1.

I chose pure white cotton napkins to give the eye another little break from all the color. Each napkin, folded in a compact square, is topped with a seashell toting a fresh orchid bloom. (The great thing about fresh orchids – besides how insanely great they look – is that they can thrive without water for several hours!)

The towering white bamboo vase is from my favorite store….let’s all say it together….Z Gallerie! Mounds of seashells collected over the years add a little girth to the bottom of the centerpiece to balance it out with the top. Tucking a few orchid blooms and brightly hued cockscomb here and there amongst the seashells adds color and extends the floral theme. (I just love decorating with seashells!)

This lush profusion of fabulous orchids – courtesy of my dear friend Craig Sole of Craig Sole Designs – are arranged in an untamed fashion along with curly willow branches that lend height and texture.

I’ll end this post with one more quote (expletives redacted) from author Kelly Cutrone:  “This is an important lesson to remember when you’re having a bad day, a bad month, or a [$&!##%] year: Things will change. You won’t feel this way forever. And anyway, sometimes the hardest lessons to learn are the ones your soul needs most. I believe you can’t feel real joy unless you’ve felt heartache.” Amen, sister!

Other tablescapes on this site using paper parasols:
Daisy Crazy
Oopsy Daisy

More tablescapes on this site using seashells:
Summer Breeze
“Old Navy Seafood Cruise”

More tablescapes on this site using orchids:
Raining Orchids
Love & Orchids
Upscale Irish
Autumn Orchids
Happy Mother’s Day, Senator Mom
Happy Birthday, Barf

It’s great to be back! Thank you for stopping in, and please be sure to join me this Thursday for Tablescape Thursdays hosted by Susan at Between Naps on the Porch. You’ll be glad you did!