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 do, 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 LinenTablecloth.com. 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 LinenTablecloth.com.

 

The tablecloth used on each of the two 6-ft. tables is simply a white washable 90″ x 132″ poly from LinenTablecloth.com. 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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