Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Celebrating Mom’s 89th Birthday Gatsby Style

While recuperating from my most recent spine surgery, I planned a 1920s/Gatsby-style ladies luncheon to celebrate my Mom’s 89th birthday. (Doesn’t she look beautiful??? Don’t tell me this chick “Ain’t Misbehavin'”!!!) A grand luncheon in her honor has become sort of a tradition (when I’m healthy!) since her 2011 retirement from the Missouri Senate, and it’s always a delightful challenge to come up with a theme that both she and her guests will enjoy. (Check out 88 Years & 88 Keys, Celebrating 85 Years of Fabulous, Pretty In Pink, Grazin’ in the Grass.) This year’s inspiration came from a flapper bar towel my friend/neighbor, Barbara, gifted me while I was convalescing. Mom was born in the March preceding the start of the Great Depression in 1929, and I thought it would be a fun idea to travel back in time to explore the good things about that (infamous) year!
(This post is super photo heavy, but I pay close attention to the “cat’s particulars” aka details and want to share each and every nuance with you!)

 

Setting the mood from the very start was an important part of the planning. The invitations I created on my desktop had the familiar art deco design representative of the 1920s. Along with the invitations was an insert suggesting accessories to help the ladies get “all dolled up” for the occasion. Notice the flapper lady I put in the return address corner and the Lena Horne stamps!!!

 

A pair of “V.I.P. Entrance” signs in 1920s black and gold art deco style flanked the doorway, greeting guests as they approached the porch. Music from the decadent era rang out as it would outside a bustling nightclub, courtesy of a Google Mini.

 

The computer-generated, sequin-backed sign on the front door welcomes guests to the fictional “Gold Sequin” speakeasy.

 

My friend/neighbor, Jane, was such a sexy, gracious (and convincing!) “cigarette girl” hawking bubble gum cigars and candy cigarettes I ordered from the Blair Candy Co.

 

Our modest entry hall sets the tone for thumbing our noses to Prohibition with the oversized champagne flutes! They’re filled with tiny crystals. (Crystals…Cristál…the champagne…get it?) On the walls are cute Rosanna cocktail plates I bought a few years ago for cocktail parties that were first used for “Hooray for Vodka!” back in 2013! (Smaller plates of this same design were used to serve the birthday cake!)

 

The primary bar with specialty drinks (potent Mary Pickfords and chocolate martinis that were really a couple of “quilts”!) was set up in the library, although guests were invited to get whatever they may want from any of the other 3 bars on the main floor.  (Tip: Make up pitchers of these drinks and then just have the bartender shake small portions with ice to serve!) The bar was covered with a gold crinkle taffeta tablecloth and black sequin table runner from YourChairCovers.com. The towel that inspired this theme reads “You can’t regret what you don’t remember” and jokingly refers to the temporary amnesia caused by one of the meds I was taking, prominently hangs in the front. We borrowed cocktail artwork from the basement decor to further lend to the bar atmosphere. The ostrich feather trimmed lamp (’cause that’s how I roll!) is borrowed from my dressing room, and the glass of brandy and “burning” cigarette (both fake) further lent to the speakeasy theme. The two booze hounds  in the above pics…just pitiful!!! 🙂

 

We transformed the family room into a 1920s era fine dining establishment complete with a 1920s music playlist in the background. It didn’t take long for me to know what linens I’d use from my stash. The palette of the Gatsby era was gold, black & white. I layered floor-length (90″x132″ for 6’x30″ folding tables) black linens from LinenTablecloth.com with gold sequin runners from YourChairCovers.com. The chairs clean up nicely with gold stretch leather-look covers (no longer available where I bought them, but I’ve seen them at TableclothsFactory.com) with black spandex sashes and sparkly gold slips (YourChairCovers.com).

 

I ordered 100 white ostrich feathers to create these lush (and surprisingly easy!) centerpieces. The glass tower vases are filled with odd-sized bulk “pearls” from Hobby Lobby and topped with a beautiful dangling bobeche affixed with a bit of Cling® Floral Adhesive to avoid catastrophe. The extended centerpiece is filled in with gold mercury glass votives with LED tealights, black  ceramic pieces (again, borrowed from my dressing room), and cabaret lamps created with crystal candlesticks, bobeches, and white silk shades.

 

The place setting decision was remarkably simple. As a restaurant might use, I opted for all white from the ceramic charger to the B. Smith luncheon plate to the Pier 1 “White Poppy” salad bowl. The “Graham” matte gold flatware is from Target, and the Longchamps stemware is accompanied by individual bottles of non-alcoholic Martinelli’s sparkling cider for the toast. Faux pearl napkin rings cinch simply folded black napkins. The menus layered in white, black, and gold sequin-covered cardstock from Hobby Lobby were created on my desktop using Microsoft® Word. (That sequin cardstock is no joke to cut!!!) The pearl embellishment on the menus came from a pair of summer sandals I broke! The meal served included the Louisville, Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich, a late night/early morning diner staple back in the 1920s to soak up the liquor enjoy after a night out of unabandoned carousing. Water and lemonade bottles were placed on both sides of the dining table.

 

Other special touches around this room included another ostrich feather lamp I created using a crystal candlestick, an abundance of paper rosettes (Michaels) mixed with oversized champagne glasses of crystals and pearls, and an extra tall martini glass (Hobby Lobby) that I placed in a large flat glass bowl to give it girth. Final touch: notice a muted television in the background playing “The Great Gatsby” movie!!!

 

My sister makes fun fortune cookies for all occasions, these with art deco-style fabric. While the take-home fortune cookies were a demure little thank you to the guests, I asked her to create some funny, slightly suggestive ones for us to play the fortune cookie game “In Bed”. Ever heard of it? Each guest opens their cookie and reads the fortune aloud followed by the words “in bed.” As the pictures show, this game got lots of laughs!!!

 

Check out this cake created by my longtime friend, Patrick Snuffer. I provided him with an almost childlike sketch using various elements I’d seen around the Internet, and voilà! A delicious art deco cake with a black ostrich feather! To the left of the cake are the mini martini glasses in which ice cream (choice of 4!!!) was served. The miniature gold spoons are from Michaels.

 

The candy bar in the dining room was one of my favorite elements to create! I researched candies and gums that were popular in the 1920s and then went on the hunt. The result: a favor bar laden with 22 flavor treats served up in various size martini and pilsner glasses!!! Guests scooped up what they wanted into favor bags with black, gold and/or white twist ties displayed in my Limoges swan salt & pepper cellars. The table is covered in another gold crinkle taffeta cloth with a black sequin runner. The gold painted manzanita “trees” just seemed to work with the decor, especially dressed in large hanging crystals. My generous neighbor provided the sequined dress for the dress form, and I finished it off with a few ostrich feathers, a feather boa, and all the remaining pearl necklaces from my jewelry collection!

 

The dining room was “fun central” with the candy bar AND a “photo booth” where guests could take selfies or have their photo taken. We simply took the existing artwork off the wall and replaced it with oversized gold and black paper rosettes (Michaels). I hung a huge paper rosette over the mirror and draped it with crystal garland. The photo prop table beneath was laden with vintage accessories (thanks, Dee!) and fake cocktails. (Notice I was a good girl and stayed in little black flats instead of the gorgeous T-strap heels I really wanted to wear!) Fun/Silly pics of guests at the photo booth and around the house are at the very end of the post. Such fun!!!

 

Without question this was one of the most fun birthday parties I’ve ever put together in my Mom’s honor!!! My sister, Berishia, and I both love our Mom so much, and we are blessed to have had her in our lives for all these years.

 

MOST DEFINITELY MISBEHAVIN’!!!

 

Special, HUGE thanks to: my friend/neighbor, Jane, for being the best cigarette girl a flapper could ask for; my friend/neighbor, Barbara, for mixing up those insanely potent drinks, whipping up a mean Mornay sauce for the Kentucky Hot Browns, and helping out so much in the kitchen; Barbara’s helpful husband, Lynn, for graciously taking time away from college basketball to take our group photo; my dear friend, Patrick, for creating such an extraordinary cake; my cousin, Dee, for all the props she contributed for the photo booth and for doing such a fabulous job on Mom’s makeup; my sister, Berishia, for the fortune cookies; my best friend of nearly 55 years, Sheri, for her precision serving skills and so many great photos despite the overcast skies, and; my husband, Ramon, for all the photos he took, his bartending prowess, being such an all-round good sport, and PAYING FOR THIS!!! 😉

Now…on to the fun guest pics with captions chock full of 1920s Flapper/ Gangster Slang. (The Flapper Slang Guide, Slang of the 1920s, Molls & Dolls Slang Dictionary) Enjoy!

My cousin, Dee, and I always take pictures of us rough housing. Here we are trying to put each other in a “deep sleep.” A whole new meaning to “clutching your pearls”!!! Somebody call the “coppers”!

Wow! Here’s a real “sheba”! Barbara was the ultimate flapper girl, ready to have a great time in her sparkly black dress!

Mom and her forever baby sister, Vivienne, who I call Aunt Bean Bean Dancing Machine!

Here’s a couple of “swell dames”: Mom and friend/LINK sister, Shirley Thaw.

Mom and friend/LIncoln High School classmate from the Class of 1946/”canary”, Geneva Price

Mom and friend/Delta sorority sister, Dr. Susan Wilson. Check out those “gams”!

Mom and friend, Amy Heithoff-Dominguez, lookin’ like “the cat’s meow”!

Mom and friend/Delta sorority sister/education colleague, Dr. Marjorie Williams. That’s some “dish”!

Mom and friend/LINK sister, Barbara Graham, in her “glad rags” looking “air tight.”

Mom and my good friend & neighbor, Barbara Alsup. Quite the “billboard” that Barbara!

Mom and her friend/neighbor/fellow church member, Virginia Jones, who looks like a real “floorflusher”!

Mom and her niece/my arch nemesis cousin, Dee Evans, who’s had a little too much “giggle water.”

“Jeepers Creepers”! It’s Mom and her longtime family friend from the neighborhood (Leeds) where they grew up, Kimberly Randolph!

Mom and her son-in-law/my husband, the very dapper Dr. Ramon Nichols. Hubba hubba…what a “sheik”!!!

Well, look who stopped by to say hello and have her picture taken with the birthday girl! It’s little Ava Rutherford with her own flapper boa!!!

Ramon and me. Gosh, he looked so handsome in that outfit!!!!!!!!!!!! A real “brooksy” in those snazzy “dog kennels”!!! Me…post-op flat shoes! 😦

These “dolls” came ready to party! Barbara Graham (in a coat I really wanted to steal!) and Amy Heithoff-Dominguez (with a handbag to die for!)

Our resident bootlegger, Bob Rutherford, had to come check on his moll, Jane, and have a cigar!

Mom looked like the queen she is!

 

What a “babe”! Mom wears a 1920s-inspired gown designed and created by her granddaughter/my niece, Yvonne Chamberlain, for her to wear to the Governor’s Ball about 10 years ago. She still looks fabulous in it!!!

Even a “croaker” has to get his nutrition!

A couple of snappy “sips”: My “tomato” cousin, Dee Evans, and the flapper with the sexy “stilts”, Susan Wilson.

This is the look of PURE JOY!!! I absolutely adore this picture!!!

This outfit is absolutely the “duck’s quack”!!!

I’m so proud of my Mom!!!

A trio of real “lookers”: Barbara Alsup, me, and Sheri Grant

Check out these “kittens”: Barbara Graham, Shirley Thaw, Susan Wilson, and Dee Evans

Ripe and ready “hoppers”: Shirley Thaw, Susan Wilson, Dee Evans

I’m joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday this week. Check her out for a wealth of Spring and Easter ideas!

My friend, Debbie, at Debbee’s Buzz has another wonderful theme party you might like. Check out this fabulous Alice In Wonderland invitation!!!

Smoke & Mirrors – Sensational at 70

My remarkable friend, Marchita, recently celebrated becoming an official septuagenarian in high spirits and high style. I was asked to create the ambience for the 160-guest celebration. So even with flooding rains plaguing the city (hence the substandard photo quality despite my best editing efforts), my husband and I made every second count of the allotted 2-hour setup time to create a space that represented Marchita: simply, sweetly, sensationally elegant at 70.

This recent 4-minute appearance on KCTV-5’s “Better Kansas City” show summed up my thinking on how to approach the decor without using flowers.

 

My inspiration for the overall room plan was quite unexpectedly stirred by the venue’s house decorator. This luxurious ceiling treatment was going to already be in place for a wedding reception…so I just rolled with that and chose white silk, reflective silver, mirrors, candlelight, and bling for the tables to complement it.

 

 

 

This is the woman of the hour, the sensational Marchita Stanton, standing at the table I created especially for her. I started with a black full-length pinched pinwheel taffeta tablecloth, an upgrade from the venue’s lap-length poly cloths used for the guest tables. A silver 5-arm candelabra to which I added crystal bobeches for extra sparkle graced the center. (These same candelabra were used for “Blue & White Family Picnic” and “Hollywood Fright Night“.)

 

 

 

Satellite lighting included lots of votives and candle lamps created using silver Revere candlesticks topped with white silk shades. (I used a similar technique for the post “Should Have Put A Ring On It“.) I used the same bobeches on the lamps as on the candelabra.

 

I created signs like this for areas throughout the venue. The frames are laden with pearlescent gemstones and rhinestones. (I used these same frames for seating cards in the posts “Fete Noir et Gris“, “Purple & Pastel“, and “Bling Wedding“.)

 

I slipped the chairs at the guest of honor’s table into black Spandex chair covers and added a black sash to which a rhinestone cuff was affixed.

 

 

 

Centerpieces for the guest tables were more subdued than the head table with a single lamp and a few votives. While the lamps complemented the overhead decor and head table, they did not serve to compete. I opted to use the venue’s mirrors to double back the light.

 

 

Marchita requested a special table for the children next to her own table. I wanted it to be special and fun but still work with the rest of the decor. I ordered up a balloon bouquet in black, white and platinum (after all, platinum is the color for celebrating 70 years!) and omitted candles. Marchita put together fun gift/activity bags to be placed in each child’s chair.

 

A quick peek at other details I set up around the venue includes the table in the vestibule for guests to self-check their umbrellas. I admit it could have been nicer, but I didn’t think about it until a few hours before setup when I realized the rain was NOT going to back down. At any rate, it helped avoid confusion after the event as so many umbrellas look alike.

 

 

As guests stepped inside the party room they were greeted by a table reminding them to treat themselves! I dressed the table in a white pinched pinwheel linen and, like the head table, added a silver candelabra. A few scattered LED votives further illuminated the table.

 

I expected a significant amount of cards, so I opted for a silver punch bowl (also used in “Kentucky Derby Buffet” for Mint Julep Punch) to collect them on the gift table.

 

 

 

I forgot the silver trays for the ladies and mens room pampering stations!!! Ugh!!! Oh, well…several guests remarked how appreciative they were to have things like breath mints, floss sticks, and hair spray at their disposal. Notice how the men got FAR less!!! But those shoe mitts came in handy after coming in out of the driving rain.

A few other birthday celebration posts on this site include:
88 Years & 88 Keys
Pretty In Pink
Blue & White 30th Birthday
Celebrating 85 Years of Fabulous!
Purple & Pastel
Grazin’ In the Grass
Princess Pink Birthday Dinner
Happy Birthday, Barf!
Black, White & Red All Over

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Hot

Planning a table for an low-key, intimate New Year’s Eve dinner party can be a little tough. We had a super sparkly table last year, and I am considering a similarly blinged out table for this year’s celebration. (Click HERE to see last year’s post, “Ringing in the New Year.”)

For those preferring something a bit more subdued before the noisemakers come out, here’s an idea table that just might fit the bill.

I am and always will be a sucker for a full-length white linen for most semi-formal and formal settings, unless you have a table with a pristine finish or interesting design.

I used some of my favorite TJ Maxx creamy white dishes with scrolled rims atop the polished silverplate chargers, but just about any nice white dishes will do.

International Silver “Royal Danish” sterling flatware adds to the formality of the place settings.

Godinger‘s “Chelsea” collection crystal stemware.

White linen napkins pulled through heavy crystal napkin rings from Z Gallerie‘s 2010 collection.

Simple silver spheres to hold place cards.

Reflective silver 14-inch, 5-branch candelabra dripping with crystal bobeches grace the center of the table. If you have concerns about fire safety like my husband does after THIS fiery fiasco last summer, reduce the risk by using metal case candles (also referred to as mechanical candles) such as these from Paradise Candles. Not only do they up the fire safety ante, but they save your nice linens from wax drips.

If Christmas broke the bank for you, alstroemeria is a good economical flower choice. Here, a single bunch from the florist is divided and arranged in classic silver julep cups.

The clean, polished look is finished off with scattered cut crystal votives.

This look is also appropriate for a bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, adult birthday or a little something special on Christmas Eve.

I’ll post this year’s actual New Year’s Eve dinner party tablescape next week…if I can decide exactly what I want to do with it! 🙂

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU AND YOURS!!!

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

Bienvenue! Laissez les bon temps rouler!!!
(Welcome! Let the good times roll!!!)

We will be shakin’ our bon-bon and having a grand ol’ time in celebration of Fat Tuesday tonight! Our trusty butler, Geoffrey, even plans to get in on the fun which is so against his staid British upbringing! 🙂

I’ve been busy all morning preparing a slightly more formal table than the way we celebrated over the weekend. The same amount of debauchery, however, is expected as for any Mardi Gras celebration!


I elected to allow the natural wood of the dining table anchor the setting. Over the bare wood I crisscrossed lengths of shimmering purple, green & gold netting.


Each place setting  started with a deep purple cobbled charger from Burlington. The china was purchased several years ago at Pier 1. Add gold toned flatware and my trusty Godinger “Chelsea” collection stemware.


Purple gemstone napkin rings from Z Gallerie hug the sheer organza Pier 1 napkins. Here you are better able to see the cobbled texture of the chargers.


The centerpiece is made up of several pieces. First, in a Godinger “Dublin” hurricane, is a mass of free-flowing fresh greenery. I wanted a kind of “messy” look to play off of the more formally arranged carnations beneath it.


Clusters of beautifully fragrant royal purple carnations rest in diminiutive crystal vases.


At each end of the dining table are Godinger “Dublin” cut crystal candle holders.


Graceful purple birds with soft green bellies and long, sweeping tails perch high above each gold candlestick. The birds were purchased wholesale many years ago, but this is the first time I’ve had an opportunity to use them.

One of my favorite parts of decorating is the chance to create something new by combining various elements. The very boxy gold-toned candlesticks are softened by the addition of these bobeches dripping in crystals.


The buffet area is the perfect place to extend the festivities from the dining table. Purple, green & gold mirror balls stretch the length of the buffet with a strand of the same colored beaded garland. On one end of the buffet, a Harlequin doll stands guard over the assorted candies in cut crystal containers.


On the opposite end, a mini bar of soul-satisfying bourbon, scotch and brandy in cut crystal vessels awaits thirsty guests along with fun feathered masks.


I don’t much care for store-bought King’s cake, so I am substituting these lucious homebaked cinnamon rolls. The smell of cinnamon wafting through the house is wonderful!!!


This Beverly Clark cake server with the regal crown on the end is the perfect utensil for cutting and serving the King’s cake!

I didn’t create menu cards for our buffet this evening, but we will dine on a traditional gumbo starter followed by fried catfish, red beans & rice, candied sweet potatoes, collard greens and cornbread. After all, that’s what Fat Tuesday is all about! I wish you and yours a joyous and festive one!

Other Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday tablescapes on this site:
Mardi Gras Lite
Mardi Gras Mojo
“Mardi Gras Madness”
“Celebrate Mardi Gras!”
“The Peacock Effect”

 In the browsing mood? I hope you will take the time to visit Susan and the other tablescapers at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday!

Princess Pink Birthday Dinner

Last Friday before all the snow fell upon our fair city (a full 12 inches where we live!!), I hosted a Sweet Sixteen X 2 birthday dinner for my best friend’s daughter-in-law. Pink was the “reigning” color of the evening.

 

 

A pink, black & white evening of celebration in honor of “Princess” Stacy’s 32nd (Sweet 16 x 2!) birthday. (Elements used for this royal tablescape would also work very well for a pink, black & white bridal shower or wedding. With a little tweaking, it would also be perfect for a Breast Cancer Awareness Month luncheon or dinner.)

A pink birthday party takes on a new air of sophistication when after-five black, rich silver tones, and lots of “bling” work alongside. A black table linen is the foundation for this tablescape, topped with white rhinestone-studded chargers. My favorite Noritake “Spectrum” china sits atop yet another beaded silver charger. Black cotton napkins from Bed, Bath & Beyond with a sheer silver underlay from Pier 1 “crown” the place setting. Of course, I had to pull out the “Royal Danish” sterling, and the silver crown place card holders and diamond cut Cristal d’Arques Longchamps crystal stemware were the perfect finish! (I added a little temporary pink “bling” to the top of each place card holder.)

I found these fabulous crown napkin rings at…you guessed it!…Z Gallerie!!!

I made the menus using heavy black paper topped with fabulous rose petal pink paper I found at Hobby Lobby. I printed the menu in color on plain white paper and then blinged it out with faux gemstones to give it that purely regal look!

 

I bought these sweet pink rose balls at a wholesale place and blinged them up a bit with “diamond” head stick pins. Each ball sits atop a slender silver candlestick with a bobeche dripping with crystals to give it a little extra “ooo la la.”

Photo by Sheri L. Grant

To bring color closer to the table deck, I used these pretty little multi-hued rosebud kissing balls that I made several years ago when I was feeling kind of crafty/bored. Again, I added rhinestone stick pins for this occasion.

Rhinestone candle holders are perfect on this table! The “crowns” hold a Swarovski crystal-studded pillar candle from Kaos, while each of the rectangular holders brings another level of light closer to the table. All of the centerpiece items reflect nicely in the black framed door mirror. (Also used HERE.)

Photo by Sheri L. Grant

Photo by Sheri L. Grant

Photo by Sheri L. Grant

I don’t always change the decor on top of the rustic china cabinet in the dining room, but this time was an exception. Another style of rhinestone candle holder and another larger homemade rose kissing ball shared the stage with my usual iron cross and a bevy of mercury glass votives.

A confection bar fit for a princess!

OK…so I’m a sucker for baby’s breath!!! I can’t help myself!!! This just looked so great in this ornately carved silver epergne. (I purchased 14 of these epergnes wholesale for my fine rentals business several years ago and just haven’t been able to part with them!) I replaced the candle lamps that came with the epergne with plain white metal case candles. The little wooden princess signs were purchased at Hobby Lobby, and I affixed lots of “bling” to the crowns on them for a sparkly 3-D look.

Pretty pink confections on the candy bar include M&Ms, Tootsie Rolls, Hershey’s kisses and heart-shaped marshmallows in clear glass apothecary jars. Engraved silver tags identify the various candies. Sheri, the birthday girl’s mother-in-law/my best friend, baked the pink-sanded sugar cookies that just somehow kept leaping up into my mouth. 🙂 Party favors in pink organza bags were displayed on a silver beaded-edge stand. Each guest went home with the organza bags stuffed with candies and cookies, plus a vial of exclusive perfume.

 

What proper princess doesn’t have something with her initial prominently displayed? For Princess Stacy, it was a silver cake plateau full of luscious pink cupcakes! This tasty confection was served alongside a mini martini glass (Crate & Barrel) filled with strawberry ice cream.

Photo by Sheri L. Grant

The guests checking out the dining room before dinner.

L to R: Sheri, Kelly, Chris, Angie and Princess Stacy

This tablescape would also work incredibly well for Valentine’s Day, to honor a breast cancer survivor, a bridal shower, or as head table for a very blinged out wedding!

Other pretty pink tablescapes on this site include:
Peaceful Peonies
Days of Wine & Roses
Peonies & Pearls
Chocolate Traditional
Platinum & Pink Valentine
Blushing Bridal Shower
Easter Floral
Easter Bloom
Pink Plaid & Posies
All A’Bloom In Pink For Spring
Pretty In Pink
Showered In Pink
Easter In Pink & Grey
French Poodle
Peony Power
Fairy Princess Party
Fairy Tale Wedding Shower
Blurred Lines With Shades of Pink
Tea Roses
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Pretty In Pink, Wicked In Spurs – Breast Cancer Awareness
Bald Is Beautiful – Breast Cancer Awareness
Pink & Purple Chocolate Christmas
Au Revoir!

I’m delighted to once again join Susan and the other talented tablescapers at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.