Brilliant Italian (a re-post from July 2010)

Summer has become one of my favorite seasons. Sure, it’s hot and often sticky here in the Midwest. That’s to be expected. But there are just so many opportunities for outdoor entertaining that just can’t be taken for granted! My husband and I hosted a little dinner party that involved wine tasting (one of my favorite activities!) to forget about the heat for awhile. Neighbors came over to feast on tasty homemade Italian dishes while sampling red wines from the Adam Puchta Winery in Hermann, Mo.
First things first….gather up all the necessary items and create a menu board. The chalkboard is from Kirkland’s, and it really works out well for casual events!
 I let the wine breathe a bit before the guests wandered out onto the deck.
 Juicy black grapes to munch on before dinner sit alongside the night’s chalkboard menu.
  The pasta dish gets a chance to “rest” for about 15 minutes after pulling it from the oven.
This little table was set up near the dining table so that guests could nibble on homemade bruschetta and antipasto while sipping a glass of wine before dinner.
 The 6-ft. oblong table is set for six.
This occasion provided a wonderful opportunity for me to pull out colorful Italian-inspired dishes in brilliant, cheerful reds, blues and yellows. “Yellow Talavera” dishes by Maxcera (TJ Maxx) set atop sunny yellow placemats from Bed Bath & Beyond were the foundation of the color scheme. Bright cobalt blue water glasses (Pier One) juxtaposed clear wine stems. A mix of red roses and playful yellow Gerbera daisies in cobalt blue vessels completed the look. Corks of wine parties past displayed each place card. (Square appetizer plates and red dipping oil bowls from Crate & Barrel.)
You simply can’t go wrong with brilliant colors when serving Italian food!
Mangia, y’all!

Daisy Crazy

Casual outdoor spring tablescapes needn’t cost an arm and a leg to make an impression! If your money is funny or you’re in a pinch for time, here are a few ideas to still put on a good show! With Mother’s Day just a blink away, you can still create a cheerful and pretty table to let Mom know she’s always in your heart!

Gerbera daisy paper products from Costco infuse lots of bright, energetic color into this tablescape. The colors are magnified when laid against a pure white table linen.

Grass in containerReal Gerbera daisies are cheap and plentiful in spring and summer at your local flower market or nursery. Just insert the tip into a floral pick filled with water, and insert the pick into the grass. Rye grass can be grown indoors in 2-3 weeks time using whatever containers you have on hand. (Really strapped for cash? Try using tin cans like those that green beans and Spaghettios come in. Wash them thoroughly, strip off the label, and plant the grass seeds. Cut a strip of colorful paper to fit the can and secure with double-sided tape or a fun sticker. Voila! Fabulous floral containers for next-to-nothing! See instructions for growing rye grass by clicking HERE and scrolling to Tip #15.) If time in growing your own grass is an issue, buy an inexpensive slab of sod and chop it up to fit your containers. Be sure to water!!!!!

Flatware & cup collageIf the wind is kicking up, use a weighted salad plate to keep the paper dinner plate intact. The clear glass used here allows the pattern beneath to still be seen. The dinner plates, cups and napkins are all from Costco. The bright pink Bed Bath & Beyond placemats (about $2 each) could be replaced by patterned paper from a stationery store (about $.59 each) or pieces of wrapping paper or wallpaper (averaging around $.25 each) cut into rounds, squares or rectangles.

The fun white-handled flatware is from Burlington. It, of course, could be replaced with less expensive plastic cutlery, or you could use stainless you already have.


The napkin ring is a strip of patterned paper with the guests’ name imprinted by hand or on the computer and then secured with a piece of tape in back.

 These colorful paper parasols were a steal (about $2 each) at Hobby Lobby’s end-of-season sale last year. They add a whole new dimension to the overall look and are a fun and fashionable way for guests to ward of the midday sun.

Total cost of paper goods, placemats, flowers, grass, and parasols as shown for this table for 12: about $48. With homemade placemats, the overall total drops to about $35. Fabric tablecloths used here to make the table a little extra special. My preferred linen provider is LinenTablecloth.com for inexpensive, easy-to-launder linens in an array of colors, patterns and sizes.

Great places to buy fun & festive paper dining products appropriate for just about any occasion include:
Tuesday Morning
Target
Dollar Tree
Walmart
Home Goods
Big Lots
Old Time Pottery
Hobby Lobby
Michael’s

While this would make a fun and fast Mother’s Day dinner or brunch tablescape, it would also work great for a birthday, wedding shower, or any fun Spring or Summer get-together.

Other tablescapes on this post using parasols:
“Oopsy Daisy!”
“Tropicana”
“Sunflower Simple”
“Hot Fun In the Summertime”
“Flamingos In Paradise”

 More Spring tablescapes:
Rolling Fields of Green
The Bluebird Special
Moss & Manzanitas
Easter Floral
Easter Bloom

Peony Power!”
Springtime in Paris
Mothers Day Luncheon in Pink
Carousel Colors
Daffodillyicious
Spring Has Sprung
Easter Brunch
Barton’s Easter Brunch
Apple Green Luncheon
Pinky Peter Cottontail
Welcome Back, Joel
Mikasa Daylight Giveaway

 “Taste of Wine Buffet

All-American Seafood Boil

As hot as it is here in the Kansas City, MO (USA) area I could probably just sit a pot of cold water on the deck and drop the lobsters in to boil after about 5 minutes. It is CRAZY hot here with no relief in sight!!! For those readers like Suzy Q of At the Farmhouse and Carolyn of Desire Empire in Australia who are going into winter right now…please come get me!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I had a serious lapse in good judgment yesterday morning and got out on the deck to set up this 4th of July tablescape that will NOT come back for “real life” next week if this heat keeps up. I’ll spend the 4th eating red, white & blue popsicles while sitting on the AC vent! (It’s getting lonely in the Costco cooler! :-))
(Click on any image to enhance/enlarge it.)

A full-length white cotton tablecloth from LinenTablecloth.com masks the ordinary folding table. We don’t subscribe to the newspaper, so instead of the usual seafood boil newspaper, the tablecloth is topped with a piece of red & white striped vinyl. The vinyl started out with a million folds in it, but 6 minutes in the dryer on the delicate cycle and a little smoothing knocked ’em right out. Using a decorative topper instead of newspaper makes it a little more upscale, and the stripes remind me of those that grace the U.S. flag. It cost just $5 at Home Goods, so I won’t be too upset if it gets damaged. The LinenTablecloth.com linens launder very easily, so no worries there.

Medium-tone rattan chargers from Tuesday Morning bring a natural element to the table. Simple white Corelle dinner plates are topped with fun M Studios salad plates with a bright red lobster motif from TJ Maxx. Nothing says “seaside” like lobster dishes! 🙂

For an Independence Day table, what other flatware are ya gonna use besides a design called “Patriot”? 😉 The dinner & salad forks are accompanied by a lobster pick from World Market to extract every last succulent morsel.

The cotton napkins – which are actually bandannas from Hobby Lobby – are folded in the same manner as a U.S. flag and placed on the diagonal edge of the square charger. My husband who is former Air Force showed me how to make the napkin fold. I got a huge lump in my throat thinking of how many times a flag has been folded in this manner to bestow upon a family whose loved one has perished at war.

Deep blue glass tumblers and clear water goblets from Old Time Pottery find their place at the table.

What’s a seafood boil without the requisite bucket? These red ones from Hobby Lobby are just the right size for individual servings, and a convenient handle makes it easy to carry from the buffet without getting burned.

Individual butter warmers like these from TJ Maxx are great not only for seafood meals but for warming sauces or apple butter for Sunday morning biscuits.

I like to get multiple uses out of things I buy, especially if they cost a lot of money. I used these Z Gallerie white lacquered lanterns for elevated pillar candles HERE. For this display, however, I simply unscrewed the piece that elevates the candle to make room for seashells and flags. Completely different look! Cheery white Gerbera daisies in white ceramic vases from Michael’s visually connect the lanterns.

Fun red, white and blue ceramic star bowls from Pier 1 are perfect for chowder. Cherry bomb red lobster crackers from World Market and crab mallets from Amazon.com will help unleash the delicious meat from the claws.

World Market did a wonderful job this year of providing lots of accessories for seafood dinners including these fun lobster bibs. The Hobby Lobby star-struck ceramic pitchers are ready to take on guests’ thirst.

I bought several of these cool wooden boats from Hobby Lobby several years ago, and they have been a part of many different decorating ventures. Brimming with mollusk shells, they are a really fun addition to the buffet table!

Ahoy, matey! Call guests to dinner with this very cool (and very loud!) Captain’s bell. I bought this one at Home Goods, and I can see it being used for a lot in the future! The string of wooden fish is one of the most fun props in my inventory. I bought it at a place called Premiere Gallery in Kansas City, MO that is now defunct. Boy, oh boy, did they ever have some wild stuff there! I really miss that place!

This tablescape would also be perfect for celebrating Labor Day, Veterans Day, or the homecoming of one of our brave veterans!

I hope it’s cool enough on the 4th to celebrate outside where you are! Whatever you do, please be careful, and have a great time!

Other tablescapes with a patriotic and/or nautical theme on this site:
All-American Seafood Boil
Stars & Stripes 
Lauren in the Library
Show Me State Dinner
Red, White & Blueberries

4th of July Coastal Style
American Royal Tablescape

Join me again this week for Susan’s “Tablescape Thursday” anytime after 9:00 a.m. CDT. I’m sure my fellow bloggers will have lots of creative decorating ideas for your Independence Day celebration!

You can now find me at BeBetsy.com, too!! And please visit The Coconut Head Survival Guide’s “Memorial Day Patriot’s Palooza Party” in support of our military!

Give Peace a Chance – Retro Tablescape

With the recent passing of the Bee Gees’ Robin Gibb and iconic disco queen Donna Summer, I find myself in a retro sort of mood. I have been listening to a lot of music from the 60s and 70s the past few weeks. I have a whole “British Invasion” playlist on my iPod that includes a lot of Beatles music. John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” somehow played twice in a row, and I took it as a sign (a peace sign?) that I should pay homage to the era. So tuck a flower in your hair, put on your mood ring, slip into your bell bottoms, and get ready for a hip and very colorful retro tablescape!!!
(Click on any image to enhance/enlarge it.)

The day was a breezy one, so it was a challenge to keep everything on the table! The hot pink table linen kept going all Marilyn Monroe-on-the-subway-grate-in-the-“Seven Year Itch” on me!!! 😉

IMG_6218WM

I drew on all the bright, mind-bending colors of the 1960s including hot pink, yellow, and a range of blues. Each psychedelic place setting starts with a yellow woven placemat, slightly overlapped with an aqua one, both from Bed Bath & Beyond. Hot pink ruffled chargers from Crate & Barrel are then topped with an aqua blue plastic dinner plate and a funky fun tie-dye “peace” salad plate from Hobby Lobby.(Have your corneas burned out yet? :-))

Bright hot pink flatware from TJ Maxx is positioned to resemble a peace sign. The color really resonates against the aqua blue of the placemat! Right on!!!

IMG_6214WM

IMG_6224WMYou might think I’m totally zonked and trippin’ to imagine this, but I actually thought that this so-called “bunny ears napkin fold” looked a lot like a peace sign! Work with me, people! Look at the hot pink napkins folded and secured with a Bed Bath & Beyond daisy napkin ring (to soothe your inner flower child!) and tucked into the simple clear glass stemware. Tell me that doesn’t look like the fun resin peace sign here from Home Decorators Collection!!!

IMG_6222WMThere’s a lot of 1960s flower power going on here! This groovy chick was so much fun to create using a simple Styrofoam head and inexpensive faux Gerbera daisies from Hobby Lobby. I just clipped the daisies from the cluster, leaving a 2-inch stem that I simply stuck into the head to create a full 1960s “afro.” She, of course, is decked out with her soulful shades. (Make the floral hair a bit longer on the sides and in the back, and you’ve created a Beatle-esque “mop top“!)

IMG_6239WMI created the look of the mega-sized hoop earrings of the era using floral wire spray painted gold and formed into a circle around a coffee can.

More flower power with this vase of oversized faux Gerbera daisies!

Sources: hpvf.com (Goldie Hawn); hippiefan.com (Janis Joplin); wikipedia.com (Beatles); zazzle.com (Sock It To Me button); wikipedia.com (Supremes); rollingstone.com (Jimi Hendrix); urbanmodernista.com (lava lamps); technorati.com (John Lennon)

Can you dig it? Did I blow your mind?
This setting would be great to celebrate the birthday party of someone born in the 60s or turning 60!

Jet on over with me to Susan’s crib anytime after 9:00 Central Time this Thursday to let it all hang out with some other really far out chicks & dudes for Tablescape Thursday.  It’ll be a gas, man!

Have a nice day! 🙂
(Post update: Tablescape Thursday has been cancelled for this week due to technical difficulties in the hostess’s change over from Blogger to Word Press. Please join us all next week for Tablescape Thursday!)