Easter Bloom

Easter Sunday is just a few days away now, and here is one final table that I hope can be of help to someone in search of last-minute ideas.
(Click on any photo, then click again to enlarge/enhance it.)

INSPIRATION: Wreaths with pale pink & yellow Easter egg-like beading that I bought 8 years ago and have never used.

INSPIRATION: Wreaths with pale pink & yellow Easter egg-like beading that I bought 8 years ago and have never used.

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IFI started this demure Easter table with a full-length pure white tablecloth from LinenTablecloth.com.

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Flatware, rim shot, lace plate collageEach place setting begins with a pink, green, yellow and white striped cotton placemat from Pier 1. (I used these reversible placemats on this side in “Pretty In Pink” – a birthday luncheon for my Mom – and on the flip floral side in “Days of Wine & Roses”.) A white ceramic charger from Old Time Pottery is topped with the inspiration for this table: a wispy pink & yellow beaded wreath that has a very “Easter-y” look about it. The dinner plate is creamy, buttery yellow stoneware purchased at a local grocer last autumn (for just $1 each!!!), and the lacy white salad/dessert plate is one of my favorites from Pier 1. “Danish Princess” silver given to me by my Mom looks smart and adds just a touch of understated formality to the table.

Egg cup, napkin, beaded wreath collageThe pretty petal pink napkins and the celery green silver-banded napkin rings that adorn them are both from Bed, Bath & Beyond. I wanted to pick up just a little of the green in the placemat through the napkin rings. The white egg cups are from World Market.

Stemware collageIf this stemware seems at all familiar to you, it’s because the pink patterned stem graces the Home page of my blog. The green goblets are a part of one of my favorite go-to sets from Dollar Tree. (If you can get a goblet that will work as hard for you as these green ones do for me year-round for just a buck each, buy every one you can possibly fit in your storage closet!)

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IFTIP: I’d like to call your attention to the dried curly willow branches running along the two long sides of the centerpiece florals. This is a way to easily (and very economically!) visually corral your centerpiece. It has the same subconscious visual effect as placing the florals on a tray or setting them on a runner.

Floral (table) collageLook at the effect of the willow branches…how they lend a truly organic feel to the overall look of the centerpiece. These evergreen topiaries are faux, but you could certainly use real ones and plant them later. (Unless you live in the Kansas City area where it seems like the snow is NEVER going to melt!!! 🙂 )

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Bunny collageI used these fun paper hydrangea bunnies in another Easter tablescape two years ago. They have such a fun and feminine quality that I really like. Something I like about these is that they are both cream and white which allows me to use them with either shade.

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Rabbit floral, tie & geranium collage

IFThe buffet has plenty of space on it for food, but I wanted to dress it up just a little. On one end is my stone bunny, Barton. Barton last made an appearance in another Easter tablescape two years ago as well as on an Easter brunch buffet table last year. This year, Barton has switched up from the usual eggs on his tray in favor of pretty pink carnations surrounded by a bed of white waxflower. He’s sporting a pink Ombre ribbon tie that Ramon put on him like a proud Papa. 🙂 Nice knot, huh?

I want to wish you and your family the very best of this Easter week,
and may you be blessed always by the grace of God.

Tablescapes suitable for Easter breakfast, brunch, luncheon or dinner on this site:
“Easter Floral”
“Barton’s Easter Brunch”

“Easter Brunch”
“Pinky Peter Cottontail”
“Carousel Colors”
“The Bluebird Special”
“The Party She Deserves”
“Rolling Fields of Green”

I’m joining the following blog parties this week, and you’re invited along!
Marty’s “Tabletop Tuesday
Cuisine Kathleen’s “Let’s Dish!
Susan’s “Tablescape Thursday
The Home Girl’s “Festive Friday Fiesta

UPDATE: This post was featured as the most viewed entry for The Home Girl’s blog party!

Find this and other fun posts from my blog at BeBetsy.com!

Thanksgiving 2012 – Celebrate Me Home

For the first time in as long as I can remember we won’t be hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year. I can’t even begin to tell you how deeply wounded I am about that. It is hands down my favorite holiday, and I always look forward to my loud, gregarious, hungry family and friends gathering under our roof. Sigh! 😦 I know I just need to put on my big girl bloomers and deal with it, but instead I find myself hitting the “repeat” button on my playlist for Kenny Loggins’ “Celebrate Me Home“.

For my “Fabulous Fall Tablescaping” class this semester, I created a decidedly contemporary Thanksgiving tablescape. I am a traditionalist all the way when it comes to Thanksgiving, but I wanted to demonstrate to my students that you CAN step outside of the box without completely thumbing your nose at tradition.
(Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge it. Photos by Sheri L. Grant.)

More often than not, the main table for our Thanksgiving celebration is set up in the family room. The windows face south so there’s plenty of natural light, the crackle of the fireplace adds ambience, and with two 6-ft. tables kissed lengthwise, we can comfortably seat 12. There’s just something about a long, Tuscan-style table that suggests a bounteous celebration.

As usual, full-length linens are used to cover the multitude of sin that is a folding table. I used a creamy, soft ivory to work with the ivory dishes. Burnished gold-tone acrylic chargers with a subtle braided edge from Hobby Lobby anchor each place setting.

Pumpkin-colored napkins from LinenTablecloth.com bring a burst of color to the table. The simple elongated fold allows the napkin to slightly drape off the side of the table to break up the expanse of ivory there. You may have noticed how the kind of bell shape and the pumpkin color of the napkin mimic that of the calla lilies used in the floral arrangements. This is one of those subtle details that, while not starkly apparent, plays on the subconscious to suggest harmony and flow.

I like to provide individual menus for Thanksgiving settings, even if we’re doing a buffet. It’s nice to let your guests know what to expect, and the menu card serves as a nice (and inexpensive!) memento of the day. Notice how the small embellishment on the menu not only provides a bit of color but mirrors the centerpiece theme.

“Why on earth would you use (faux) bamboo flatware at Thanksgiving,” you might ask. Well, I’ll tell you why on earth: because it looks good! Bamboo flatware isn’t just for Asian- or tropical-themed events. It is a year-round, all-occasion staple that adds contemporary flair. You will notice later how the dark color works with the rosewood stands upon which some of the florals are displayed, as well as the preserved curly willow in the arrangements. Using a dark color here also keeps the setting from becoming too vanilla and helps to balance the light and bright of the ivory and pumpkin colors.

Simple, stark stemware is used to keep patterns from getting out of control. The shape and sleek design of the stemware bowls is also congruent with that of the floral vessels.

One of my favorite mediums for decorating is glass. You can just do SO much with it. It becomes whatever color and takes on any shape within its confines that your imagination will allow it to. The round or globe shape of these clear glass bowls adds to the contemporary feel of the table. They are alternately placed upon rosewood stands for a staggered effect. A chunky ivory LED (for safety’s sake!) pillar candle is nestled among swirls of curly willow tips and pumpkin-hued calla lilies. (I used faux callas here for demonstration purposes, but fresh ones work beautifully for this arrangement! They’ll stay fresh for a bit if in a cool room, but you might otherwise want to give them a water stem that can be concealed beneath the willow.) While a more traditional bloom for Thanksgiving might be roses or mums, the calla lily is a breath of fresh air without sucking all the life out of tradition. While this curly willow is now pretty much petrified, you have to start with fresh to swirl it in the bowl without breaking it. It looks great fresh or rigid. One final thing to note with the centerpiece is how, like the stemware, the votive holders are similar to the shape of the vases.

Vivid color is shared at the lowest part of the table with these gorgeous mini pumpkins that are abundant this time of year. Using a mix of colors adds optic interest. Here I went with plain orange as well as cream-colored ones with orange & green stripes. The casual tumble of pumpkins between each arrangement acts as a “connector” and provides visual continuity for the long centerpiece.

I always like to create a foyer piece that contains some of the same elements as my dining table as a hint of what’s to come. Here bittersweet vine is loosely wrapped around the stems of about 40 calla lilies in a large oil rubbed bronze urn.

Find other ideas for Thanksgiving tablescapes on these posts:
Pheasants and Peacocks
Best Laid Plans
Wondrous Wheat
or on the “Autumn” page where you’ll find 10 autumn tablescapes!!!

This week, despite her own losses and inconvenience courtesy of Hurricane Sandy, Cuisine Kathleen is graciously hosting her 1st annual Thanksgiving Tablescape Challenge. So if you’re looking for more great ideas to decorate your Thanksgiving table…or you just want to see talent gone wild from tablescapers all around the world…scoot on over to Kathleen’s “Let’s Dish!” anytime after 6:00 p.m. CST on Wednesday. I’m also joining the Style Sisters for “Centerpiece Wednesday” and Susan for “Tablescape Thursday” anytime after 9:00 a.m. CST on Thursday.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Halloween Tablescape – Ravenous Raven Graveyard Feast

This is another table from my “Fabulous Fall Tablescaping” class through Longview Community College. I wanted the students to really feel the atmosphere, so I went a little overboard. They say, “The devil’s in the details,” and I guess there’s no better time than Halloween to let the devil do his thing!

Watch this short video (shaky a la “Blair Witch Project” and “Paranormal Activity”) if you want to really get a feel for the sights & sounds my students experienced: doors creaking, wind blowing, bones crunching, strobe lights flashing, and spine tingling screams…or as I like to call it, “Just Another Tuesday Night at the Nichols Household!”
(Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge it. Photos and video by Sheri L. Grant.)

It’s cool. Is this not a face you can trust? 🙂 C’mon in!

At the front door to greet students was a behemoth python (Spirit Halloween) with his steroid-enhanced spider minions. I trained an uplight from across the room onto the vignette to lend a spooky effect. Tip: Whenever you want something to look spooky, just uplight it like they do in the movies!

Students were warned not to venture upstairs where I’d be unable to protect them from the evil that lurked beyond the yellow tape. (My unmade bed and several baskets of dirty laundry! ;-))You could almost hear the stealthy footsteps of the (Dollar Tree) rats as they crept along. (One student – I don’t want to put her on blast, but it was wedding planner Precious Whitmore 😉 – almost lost her lunch when she saw this area. She is terrified by rats…even fake ones!!!)

 The foyer table just beneath the stairwell is quietly aglow with an uplit pumpkin on a black urn and a few LED candles. I used LED candles throughout for safety’s sake.

Are you ready to step into the graveyard to be eaten for dinner?

The dining room table is shrouded in a full-length black linen (LinenTablecloth.com) to give the appearance of the items on top just kind of floating in the relative darkness.

Plates depicting a raven perched in graveyard branches were purchased at our local Hy-Vee grocery store. They were the inspiration for the room’s overall theme.

I used plain clear glass stemware from Old Time Pottery. The flatware is Hampton Silversmiths “San Remo” stainless which in this context takes on a sort of Gothic look. The black & white floral napkins (Stein Mart) adopt a decidedly spookier look when rolled and secured with the spiked napkin ring. The Dollar Tree napkin rings are actually those popular slap on bracelets. These would be really fun as a dual purpose napkin ring/favor for guests! Tip: Stretch your dollars by incorporating favors into the decor!

I had fun creating these menus. The backing is sparkly black paper from Michael’s craft store. I secured the printed page onto the backing with a black brad from Hobby Lobby.

A headstone marks the grave place setting of each guest. You might use gray duct tape upon which to write the names of each victim guest and affix it to the headstone to create a place card. (If you want to really personalize your headstone place cards, click HERE for my good friend and floral guru Kelly Acock’s step-by-step instructions.)

The main part of the centerpiece is this gnarly manzanita branch structure from Gordman’s. It’s big but guests can still see one another. Lurking in the branches are vicious snakes and surly ravens, both from Dollar Tree.

This place is just crawling with bugs…literally! (Dollar Tree) Maggots have transformed into flies that crawl upon the mossy earth around the headstones and beneath the trees.

I wanted to use something of a floral nature that would still be kind of dark and morose. This blood red faux boxwood seemed to do the trick in a black glass vase.

A delightful Halloween buffet awaits. Come and get it…if you dare!

Start your meal with an appetizer of assorted finger foods. Move on down the buffet line to a tasty Silence of the Lambs-inspired liver & fava bean salad. You have your pick of entrées including a ghoulishly gastronomical delight of brains with death cap mushrooms picked from our very own yard. Bwahahahahaha! (Entrails and severed body parts all from Dollar Tree.)

These tasty morsels may look like calamari at first glance, but they’re actually shrunken & skeletonized hands freshly plucked from unmarked graves. Notice the lovely tarnish on the silver.

When we say “fresh”, we mean fresh!!! The blood has barely begun to coagulate on another enticing entrée called “Nevermore Hand Hash.” Enjoy the crunchy goodness of bone casserole served with slithering snakes. And for dessert: lovely lady fingers, of course! Once again, take notice of the tarnished silver. (It took incredible restraint to let all of these silver pieces tarnish like this in anticipation of using them for Halloween!!!!!) Tip: The Dollar Tree “blood” is fun to work with, but it WILL STAIN WOOD FINISHES!!!!!!!!!! I found this out the hard way! 😦

A lot of the food is still alive when served, and chasing it down really works up a thirst. Quench that thirst and wash down your meal with one of our mellow libations. (Libation labels from Spirit Halloween.)

I created this spooky Halloween “tree” using a fallen limb from our yard augmented with several curly willow branches tied in with a virtually undetectable dark-colored wired jute. I secured the branches under dark river stones in a black urn that I sat on a box (disguised by a black linen) to lend a bit more height. The votive hangers were hand-fashioned from a medium gauge floral wire. Once again, LED candles are used to be safe around the dry wood. I finished the arrangement off with mounds of Spanish moss.

Beneath the tree in true spooky graveyard fashion are miscellaneous bones, a skull, and runaway eyeballs.

Thick blood pours from lighted skulls on the decorative sconces.

I gave chairs a ghostly look by covering them with oblong table linens. The same effect can be achieved with queen- or king-sized bed sheets.

The top of the china cabinet is decorated with moss- and lichen-covered branches.

As usual, Geoffrey insisted on joining the fun! Masquerading as the Angel of Death, I barely recognized him! 😉

Other Halloween tablescapes on this site:
Serpents & Skullduggery
Hollywood Fright Night
It’s the Great Pumpkin!

I’m joining the following blog parties in the coming week:
♠ The Tablescaper’s “Seasonal Sunday
♠ Cuisine Kathleen’s “Let’s Dish!” (Wednesday after 6:00 p.m. CDT)
♠ The Style Sisters’ “Centerpiece Wednesday” (Wednesday after 9:00 a.m. CDT)
♠ Susan’s “Tablescape Thursday” (Thursday after 9:00 a.m. CDT)
♠ Yvonne’s “Tips, Tidbits & Tutorials” (Thursday after 9:00 a.m. CDT)

Autumn Orchids

I recently created a few buffet and centerpiece floral arrangements for my friend, Angelynn, who is a caterer here in the Kansas City area. She wanted something with autumnal colors but appropriate for a business occasion at the KCPL Building in Kansas City’s Power & Light District.

All arrangements were created in clear glass cylinders of varying sizes. On the guest sign-in table, this asymmetrical arrangement of fresh mums, leucadendron, and a few curly willow tips was just right. Votive candles and smooth black river rock help to extend the circumference of the arrangement.

There were several areas of soft seating around the room. This is the arrangement as guests entered the reception space using a 39″H clear glass cylinder. Six-foot fresh curly willow is paired with tall stalks of leucadendron and dendrobium orchid stems anchored by greyish-white smooth river rock. The river rock is further extended onto the table, peppered with votives and orchid blossoms.

Another soft seating area on the other side of the room got a variation on the theme of the entry piece. This cylinder is created by submerging stalks of leucadendron and orchid stems, once again anchored with river rock and surrounded by votives. Tip: Both orchids and leucadendron can survive without water for several hours, so if you don’t want the burden of drying out tall floral vessels, feel free to skip the wet stuff!

High boy tables along the window areas have a simple fall mum in a clear glass globe with a few river rocks for added interest and texture. These definitely must have a bit of water to survive!

The buffet arrangements are comprised of tall glass cylinders with lots of 6-ft. fresh curly willow, a few stalks of leucadendron, and two 6-ft. faux orchid stems anchored with river rock for counterbalance and visual interest.

On the guest tables, two different but complementary centerpieces using the clear floral vessels, orchids, mums, leucadendron and river rock with a couple of votives. I did add a couple of quarts of water to these arrangements after getting everything else on the table to reflect the votives dancing nearby.

Anna’s Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Angelynn Barge Howell, Proprietor

 

Centerpiece Wednesdays Button

I am pleased to join the busy Style Sisters for Centerpiece Wednesdays!