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”,

One more you might really like on this site:
“The Party She Deserves”

Happy April, everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life Is Just a Chair of Bowlies

 

INSPIRATION: This fun Mary Engelbreit fabric "hot pocket" my sister made for me for microwaving potatoes and ears of corn.

INSPIRATION: This fun Mary Engelbreit fabric “hot pocket” my sister made for me for microwaving potatoes and ears of corn.

 

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com: Life Is Just a Chair of Bowlies, full table

Ah, summer! It may officially be a few weeks off, but it’s already feeling very much like it here with highs in the upper 80s. Scorching! I’m fighting back with a fun little tablescape that would be great for breakfast, brunch, or even a ladies’ luncheon. This tablescape could work nicely as a light-hearted Mother’s Day table, a fun birthday theme, or a shower theme for the woman who adores Mary Engelbreit…or cherries!

This casual summer tablescape begins with a 48″ round table draped in a 108″ black & white checkered tablecloth from LinenTablecloth.com. I then placed an 85″ white square tablecloth over the top. Notice how just a shadow can be seen beneath the white, while the full complement of the checks are boldly on display at intervals around the bottom.

 

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com: Life Is Just a Chair of Bowlies, single place settingI spied the fun black & white cherry-covered placemats at Old Time Pottery and fell in love. While they’re not my usual style, they just seemed like something that would bring levity to a table in a heartbeat! And they just had a whole Mary Engelbreit/MacKenzie-Childs vibe about them that couldn’t be denied! The red luncheon plates are from the good ol’ Dollar Tree. The oversized cup and saucer set is from Pier 1 many moons ago.

 

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com: Life Is Just a Chair of Bowlies - San Remo flatwareLovely Hampton Silversmiths “San Remo” flatware works well.

 

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com: Life Is Just a Chair of Bowlies -  Stemware collagePretty glasses hold refreshing limeade with a juicy cherry for good measure. The choice to use these particular glasses was made after deciding upon the cloche in the centerpiece. Notice how the ball of the stemware mimics that of the cloche top.

 

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com: Life Is Just a Chair of Bowlies -  napkinA simply-folded black napkin is draped down the side of the table from beneath the plate to break up the expanse of white in the tablecloth.

 

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com: Life Is Just a Chair of Bowlies -  overhead shot of centerpiece

 

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com: Life Is Just a Chair of Bowlies -  Centerpiece

 

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com: Life Is Just a Chair of Bowlies -  Centerpiece collageThe centerpiece is relatively simple. A white ceramic teapot holds scads of clove-scented, bright red carnations. A black glass compote cradles – what else? – chocolate-covered cherries for dessert. Finally, a fun Mary Engelbreit “Life Is Just a Chair of Bowlies” clock is nestled in just for fun.

 

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com: Life Is Just a Chair of Bowlies -  bowl of cherriesProsaic? Perhaps. But the table just wouldn’t be complete without an actual bowl of cherries!

 

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com: Life Is Just a Chair of Bowlies -  Mary Engelbreit wooden figureAnd the whole look comes together with this life-sized wooden character from the imagination of Mary Engelbreit with her sassy attitude and fruit-laden hat!

Other light-hearted, casual summer tablescapes on this site:
Ants In My Pants Picnic
Oopsy Daisy!
Daisy Crazy
Summer Breeze
Oranges & Blossoms
Caribbean Queen
Flamingos in Paradise
Summer Orange Tablescape
All-American Seafood Boil
Stars & Stripes
Brilliant Italian
Tropicana
Working Lunch
Orange You Glad You Came To Dinner?
Summer Blues & Greens
Tulips in the IHop Hour
Dinner With Friends

Please join me again this week at Susan’s place, Between Naps on the Porch, for Tablescape Thursday. I’ll also be linking up with a new link party at Christine’s “Rustic & Refined” called “Table It!”. Check it out! And next week, we’ll be dining fine with Cuisine Kathleen’s “Wedding China Tablescape Challenge”!!!

Be Still My Heart – A Valentine’s Day Tablescape

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Be Still My Beating Heart: Four plate collage

INSPIRATION: Pretty burgundy, black & white dessert plates found on the clearance table at Pier 1 and used here as bread & butter plates.

I hadn’t really planned on doing anything for Valentine’s Day other than what I’ll do for my husband on the 14th, but when I saw these little plates at Pier 1 on the clearance shelf, I had an immediate change of heart…so to speak. 😉
(Click on any photo, then click again to enhance/enlarge it.)

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Be Still My Beating Heart: Full Room

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Be Still My Beating Heart: linen hemsThis Valentine’s Day tablescape for four (two couples or maybe get some of your single girlfriends together for a fabulous night in!) is all about layering. I used three different tablecloths from LinenTablecloth.com to achieve an ultra lush look on this 48″ round table: a 108″ white round, a 90″ black round, and finally a 70″ burgundy square. The layering allows each of the three colors found in the inspiration plates to peek out with the burgundy taking center stage as the color of love.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Be Still My Beating Heart: Full tabletopThe table shown here is outfitted with a few pretty votives for dinner, but could be easily transformed to a luncheon table by removing them.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Be Still My Beating Heart: Place setting

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Be Still My Beating Heart: Napkin & flatware collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Be Still My Beating Heart: StemwareI wanted the place setting to evoke romance, so I used these intricately-embellished American Atelier “Empress” ironstone chargers and soup bowls that don’t usually see much action around here. The standard black dinner plate is part of a set from Walmart. The black-trimmed burgundy raw silk napkins are from the Bombay Co., a retail store I really, really miss. I chose the black Hampton Silversmiths “San Remo” flatware because the detailing on the handles resembles hearts. The stemware is one of my favorites, “Chelsea” from the Godinger collection.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Be Still My Beating Heart: Favor boxYou’ve just gotta have a box of chocolates for everyone on your Valentine’s Day guest list! The Russell Stover (local company!) chocolates here are covered in plain white wrap and adorned with tiny silk rosettes in the same burgundy color found in the top tablecloth.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Be Still My Beating Heart: Centerpiece collageThe centerpiece is simple but pretty. For demonstration purposes here I used silk rose balls, but it would be the crowning touch for your table to go for the real deal. Ask your florist to create them for you or, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, go DIY. (Be sure to keep the finished rose balls in a cool spot before putting them on the table, and be VERY sure there is no water dripping from the floral foam.) Touches of pink in the rose balls help to soften the overall look and add contrast. Three silver-rimmed votive holders with shapes that mimic the black vase are strategically placed. (TIP: When setting a table, look for similar or complementary shapes in the decor pieces you use.)

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Be Still My Beating Heart: Chair with LTC Spandex chair coverI just LOVE these stretch chair covers from YourChairCovers.com!!! They are so easy to slip on, stay put even with the wiggliest butts on them, wash and wear with no fuss (no ironin’….y’know what I’m talkin’ ’bout, ladies?), can bounce back & forth between traditional and contemporary dining environments, and they come in 14 colors! YourChairCovers.com carries a wide variety of lovely sashes, too, but I chose this organza one from my repertoire with its fancy beading for a little extra ooh-la-la.

Quick and easy post for a quick and easy tablescape to celebrate with your loved one(s). Please come back in a couple of days to take a peek at my second (and final!) Valentine’s Day 2014 tablescape.

Other tablescapes on this site suitable for Valentine’s Day dining:
Platinum & Pink Valentine
Should Have Put A Ring On It
Diamonds Are a Material Girl’s Best Friend
Queen of Hearts Card Party
Love’s Arrow

Days of Wine & Roses
Chocolate Traditional
Peonies & Pearls
Fete Noir et Gris

Pretty In Pink
Princess Pink Birthday Dinner

I’m joining Susan for “Tablescape Thursday” again this week. Drop on by to see what other tablescapers from all around the world are up to this week!

Thanks for stopping by! Valentine hugs!

Christmas Fiesta

INSPIRATION: The multi-color, shiny, jingly little dudes purchased at Pier 1 several years ago.

INSPIRATION: The multi-color, shiny, jingly little dudes purchased at Pier 1 several years ago.

Tired of all this color yet? This is the third and final installment of my multi-color Christmas posts for this year. The first two, “Merry & Bright Multi-Color Christmas” and “Kaleidoscope Christmas – Multi-Color Kids’ Tablescape”, shared some of the same elements but in very different ways. Today’s offering does the same, returning to the basic red tablecloth and “wispy multi-color jingle bell thingies” that bring the room to life.
(Click on any photo and then click again to enlarge/enhance it and see more detail.)

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: Full roomThe 90″ x 132″ bright red tablecloth from LinenTablecloth.com anchors the table decor.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: Full table, lengthwiseThe winter months always start up my cravings for traditional Mexican food. Maybe because it’s my go-to comfort food…so spicy and tummy-warming. Maybe because we have happily indulged in the traditional tamales and arroz con leche of the Christmas season for decades.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: double place setting

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: Single place settingWith the multi-colored tree, the multi-colored inspiration pieces, and these fun “Serape” plates from Tuesday Morning in the cupboard, I knew I had one more opportunity to create a fun and inviting Christmas tablescape. These dishes were also used HERE and HERE.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: Flatware, stemware, napkin drop collageFor a twist on the traditional green of Christmas, I opted to use a Bed, Bath & Beyond lime green napkin. Black “San Remo” stainless flatware from Hampton Silversmiths lends a little formality to the setting. The ruby red stemware is from Pier 1.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: Sombrero, runner collageThe miniature sombreros at each place setting are embellished with colorful glass ornaments and a sprig of Christmas-y greenery. The colorful bamboo runner (also seen HERE for a tropical tablescape) works well with the theme and helps to pull the elements of the centerpiece together.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: Full centerpiece

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: Centerpiece details

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: Red hurricane sleeveI wanted the centerpiece to be kind of full and dramatic and reflective of the season, but I also felt the need to bring in other elements that would work with the Mexican theme. I started with 3 red hurricane sleeves from Old Time Pottery. Snow-flecked evergreens and the “multi-color jingly thingies” were added to the mix. The arrangement was topped off with various succulents.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: Buffet arrangement

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: Buffet vase and tray collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: Glass ornaments in bowl, pitcher

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: Greenery on buffetThe buffet borrows the same citrus green vases (Home Goods) used on the table for the kids’ “Kaleidoscope Christmas” setting. Rather than filling them with the just the jingly pieces, I opted to mix it up with snow-frosted evergreens and a single succulent. Another bamboo runner pulls together all of the buffet elements including a serving trays and a bowl of ornaments. More of the frosted greenery is brought down to the buffet level, front & center.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: Tea cart

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: Candy, cookie, gumball collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: Tea cart lower shelf

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: "Bennington" the Butler with jingle bell candy cane

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: Tea cart ribbon treatmentThe vintage tea cart is still decked out with the colorful flurry of ribbon from “Kaleidoscope Christmas” and Bennington the Butler still holds onto the jingle bell candy cane. Candy from last week’s post has been transferred into “Serape” bowls and cookies onto a plate.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: Geoffrey, Christmas tree, gumballs collageGeoffrey, standing ready to serve by the Christmas tree, now offers a trio dish of colorful gumballs. Notice the tree is now teeming with sprigs of the jingly bling found in the centerpiece and buffet vases, a change from the last 2 weeks.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Christmas Fiesta: China cabinet collageThe colorful mercury glass-lined votive holders (World Market) used first on the buffet for “Merry & Bright” and then on the china cabinet with fun glass ornaments rather than candles for “Kaleidoscope Christmas” are back once again with candles and surrounded by greenery and jingly bling.

So there you have it! Elements carried from one tablescape to another with very different results each time out. Proof positive that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks, even if the old dog is jingly bling! 🙂

I’m joining Cuisine Kathleen for her blog party, “Let’s Dish!”, this Wednesday after 6:00 p.m. CST and Susan for “Tablescape Thursday” after 9:00 a.m. on Thursday. This will be one of your last chances to get some ideas for holiday decorating from lots of talented and enthusiastic decorators all around the world, so join me, won’t you?

More winter and Christmas posts on this site can be found at:
Kaleidoscope Christmas – Multi-Color Kids’ Tablescape

Merry & Bright – Multi-Color Christmas
Christmas Through the Red Door
Pink & Purple Chocolate Christmas
Black Friday Luncheon Tablescape
Winter Dinner
Contemporary Christmas: Fire & Ice
Celebrating the Season
Sugar High Payback
Cranberry Christmas
Cranberry Christmas Squared
Checkered Christmas – A Snowman Theme
Get Me To the Church On Time
Christmas Progressive Dinner 2011
Black, White & Red All Over Christmas
Frosty the Snowman
Warm Metal Christmas
Winter Brunch
After the Hunt – Gentlemen’s Winter Retreat

plus NINE additional posts on a single page under the “WINTER” tab!!!

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)

Serpents & Skullduggery

Halloween is a week away!

I will admit it: Halloween is not my favorite. As a kid I wondered why we had to go from door-to-door like street urchins. Why couldn’t all the neighbors just toss all their candy into a huge cauldron in the center of the subdivision and let kids take turns dipping it out? Walking from door to miserable door, enduring the snarky “And what are you dressed as?” remarks, shivering in the inevitable cold because I didn’t want to wear a coat that covered my costume, being frightened half out of my wits (which explains a lot!) by older bullies who thought it was funny to make little kids pee their pants…ugh! To make Halloween that much crazier, my parents would “inspect” our candy before we got to eat it. “Inspect.” Yeah…right. Whatever.

Having said that, I put together a table just the same for your Halloween pleasure/fright. Whatever. I’m going to the store to grab a couple of bags of candy to “inspect” while you look at the pictures!

IMG_2863WMA full-length black linen creates the appearance of a ghostly “floating” tabletop design.

IMG_2840WM

IMG_2818WMThe use of clear glass and black tabletop accessories further lends to the ethereal “floating” effect. You can pick up clear glass dishes at places like Bed Bath & Beyond or Old Time Pottery. The black stemware used here is just $1 a stem at the Dollar Tree store. Gotta love that place! Lots of bang for the buck…especially in this economy!!!

 IMG_2879WMThe close placement of the flatware creates a “chain link fortress” around the table.

Yes…I used the names of some close blogger pals like Vernice at We Three Dogs & Me for place cards. If I have to suffer through this, I’m taking you guys with me! I found the fun little skull place card holders at TJ Maxx.

The dinner menu, of course, has to be pretty nauseating to be effective! The design on the end of the Hampton Silversmith’s black “San Remo” flatware works well with its almost Gothic look.

I have a couple of wrought iron “trees” that come in handy for various centerpieces, and Halloween seems a pretty likely opportunity. The tree holds 20 votives in its “branches.” To give it a spooky look, I added clumps of Spanish moss, lots of skulls from Michaels craft store, and a 6-ft. python slithering from top to bottom. I bought this tree wholesale several years ago, so I can’t tell you where to buy one. Curly willow branches, manzanita branches, or any type of small tree would work just as well, though, to achieve the look.

Lots of delicacies under glass from Dollar Tree including “finger sandwiches” on white with a bit of herbed mayo. Hmmm…this food looks a bit undercooked! The glass covered pedestals are from Hobby Lobby and Marshalls. (Dollar Tree and Deal$ – owned by the same company – are both GREAT resources for fun, affordable props!)

Votive candles lined up along the deck ledge with a skeleton here and there provide a little more ambience.

A look from below.

As if on cue as I finished up, a huge black cat darted from under the deck, across the yard, over the fence and into the neighbor’s yard. Oh, crud. The bully made me pee my pants…again!

Other Halloween tablescapes on this site:
Ravenous Raven Graveyard Feast
Hollywood Fright Night

I’ll be joining my spooky pals at Susan’s Tablescape Thursdays again this week, so please stop by to see how much they enjoy decorating for Halloween!

One Shoe Can Change Your Life!

Just a reminder…
If you have not already entered, you still have until 7:00 a.m. CDT tomorrow (October 18, 2011) to let me know you’d like to have your name dropped in the bowl for the silver pedestal bowl drawing. If you missed that post, click here for details! Good luck!!!
The winner will be announced tomorrow afternoon!

UPDATE 10/19/11: Click here to see the winner!!!

I love to hear from readers asking for tips!!! This week I set a table based on a reader request for a “shop-’til-you-drop” table. I’ll fess up and say that I pulled one idea from a real-life table I created several years ago for a few friends to enjoy a light supper after an all-day shopping excursion. The sign (bought at Stein Mart) says it all!

This one goes out to my husband who has always let me shop ’til I drop!

IMG_2177WMI like to double or even triple linens for a fuller skirt and to add lots of dimension and color to the table. Here I used just a black full-length with an ivory cotton overlay, but a bit of red peeking out between them would have been nice, too.

Once the linens are set, the rest is cake! Not a lot of time for fussing over the table when you’re just back from a day on your feet in the shopping trenches. Easy but elegant is the way to go!

Jet black dishes reflect in the mirrored shine of a sleek silver charger. Basic white dishes are a must for easy decorating options, and I feel the same about black. Black is a neutral that never disappoints and that presents light-colored food beautifully.

A fun little menu at each place setting is always appreciated by guests. The fare on this menu (a replica of the one I created for my little get-together a couple of years back) is mostly food that can be made ahead of time. I brought in a little red fabric with these black-edged red silk napkins from my friend, Monica.

One shoe can change your life, and that includes these fun little pewter shoe place card holders! Sorry..I have NO idea where I bought these little gems, but I’m sure something similar can be found on the Internet.

Sexy and sleek Mikasa “Elegance – Black” iced tea stems brazenly pilfered borrowed from my Mom are the perfect match for the place settings! Their shape, style and color are reminiscent of the sultry “little black dress” we all have in our closets.

IMG_2180WMHampton Smith “San Remo” stainless flatware finishes out the look. The Baroque detailing on them keeps the mostly black place setting from going flatline.

IMG_2182WMThe unusual hatbox centerpiece is the star of the table! It’s easy to assemble and reminds me of merchandising elements used on the shelves of chic boutiques.

What says “shopping” better than shoes, shoes, and more shoes? Uh….nothing! Duh!!! I bought these cool square shoe/hat boxes (usually displayed on the shoe shelves in my dressing room) at Gordman’s a few years ago. I think they have that Doris Day/Holly Golightly/Marilyn Monroe (or Tony Curtis!)-in-“Some Like It Hot”-look from the 1950s. (Still not sure what I’m talking about? Click here to see Susan’s take on this iconic look from her 9/14/11 post on Doris Day Movie Fashion Style.)

Filled with sumptuous red roses, hypericum berries, and trailing seeded eucalyptus, the shoe/hat boxes are a fun alternative to a ho-hum vase. (The florals are actually in water-filled vases hidden in the boxes. You can give the little vases of flowers to each guest afterwards as a take-home favor!)

IMG_2168WMA trio of multi-level candle lamps are created with A-line black shades over silver candlesticks. A small LED candle buried inside provides subtle, sexy light as the shadows fall.

Actor James Brolin (now married to Barbra Streisand) once quipped, “Any girl that’s got a $500,000 table and $5 shoes, I’m in love with.” Uh, Mr. Brolin…do you not understand that we’ve gotta have both?!?!!? 🙂

So…..the table….easy enough? I hope so! This look would also be well-suited to a ladies luncheon (sans the candlestick lamps) or even a fun bridal shower, especially if the bride is gifting her attendants with shoes for the ceremony!

Don’t forget to join me at Susan’s Tablescape Thursday to see what the other tablescapers out there in blog land are up to this week!

March of the Penguins

This week, something a little different that was so much fun: Our little Dinner and a Movie Supper Club met at our house. I hated the movie (very graphic documentary…sorry, Jackie, but I lean toward a different kind of mating ritual in the form of romantic comedies! 🙂 ), but decorating the table to go with the movie’s theme was a blast!

So, without further ado, I give you March of the Penguins!

Grownups want to have fun every once in awhile, too, so I wanted this tablescape to have some youthful features with an adult flair. Predominant colors of the evening: black, white and goldenrod (which is fancy talk for yellow!).

A snowy white cotton linen was the foundation for the table. A jolt of color was presented in the form of goldenrod placemats (Bed, Bath & Beyond) turned lengthwise for an elongated effect. A black acrylic charger, plain white dinner plate and solid black salad plate were then topped with a goldenrod napkin. Sophisticated black flatware and Godinger crystal rounded out the setting.

Using my computer and a pair of decorative edge scissors, I created a program for each guest so they’d know what was in store for the evening. The black bow ties were very inexpensive from a clearance rack at Hobby Lobby a couple of years back. I just glued them on to each program with a low-heat glue gun.

 

Glass cylinders are so great for all kinds of displays! I have them in heights varying from 3 to 31 inches!!! For this tablescape, I used an 11″ x 9″ in the center flanked by two 4″ x 8″. Each was placed atop a 14″ round mirror that gives the illusion of an icy pond. I filled them with a couple of inches of faux snow for a wintry effect, then dropped in penguins, pinecones, bottle brush trees, and shiny silver balls. (I always toss a little iridescent glitter in with the “snow” to give it a little more sizzle!) The taller cylinder was large enough for a white wicker sleigh with a penguin and his Christmas tree along for the ride. Having researched the yearly mating journey of penguins, I decided to mimic their colonies by using them in great numbers all over the table.

These pretty little bottle brush trees only stand about 6″ tall, but they pack a big punch with their shimmering branches that glow by the light of the votive candles.

Tall glass candlesticks topped with shiny silver balls lend height and additional shimmer to the tablescape.

Of course the buffet had to get a little special treatment, too! There’s almost no such thing as “too much candlelight.” Grouping them en masse like this gives an unprecedented look to any tablescape. (They also flatter every skin tone and make everyone look fabulous!) These votives, lined up on 3 sides, softly illuminate the silver balls in the glass cylinders and all the lovely cut crystal on the after-dinner drink tray.

The supper club wants to meet here again next month. We’ll see!

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR ONE AND ALL!!!

To see all the photos from the March of the Penguins tablescape, please click here or on the “Winter” tab above!

This week I am again delighted to join Susan and all the other incredibly talented tablescapers for Tablescape Thursday! When you’re finished here, pop on over and check them out!

Morocco for Two

Thanksgiving Day is almost here! Hooray!!! Before the hungry guests descend upon the house and the busy shoppers start slugging it out in the department store aisles, it’s time to take a deep, calming breath and just relax. What better way than to snuggle in with your honey with lots and lots and lots of candlelight!!!

 

The last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. I decided to slow things down a bit and spend a quiet evening with my husband without all the distractions of the outside world with a much needed at-home respite! I wanted to convey romance, peace and calm, so this setting did us both a world of good!

 

 

 

When called in for dinner, my husband was met with a bevy of candlelight on the stairway adjacent to the library.

 

We have dined in the library only one other time with other people. Tonight, it was just the two of us in our big leather club chairs. (To see more tablescapes in the library, click HERE, HERE, HERE , HERE , HERE, HERE and HERE.)

 

 

I’ve grown a bit weary of strictly autumnal decor. I kept the fall color palette but spiced it up with this fabulous Moroccan-style throw for the table topper with a solid black skirt. The beading on this throw is magnificent, and I really like the design. (That big ol’ reproduction Louis XVI vitrine in the background is slowly but surely becoming our home’s 3rd bar!)

 

 

 

It’s a little tough to discern by the photos, but the chargers are actually a rich bronze color. The dinner and salad plates are solid black. The classically folded silk napkins – a splurge for sure! – mimic one of the colors of the throw. My beautiful Hampton Silversmiths “San Remo” flatware and Godinger “Chelsea” collection crystal stemware rounds out the place settings.

 

With such a tiny table and so much pattern, it was hard to imagine candlesticks along with the intentionally very slender black centerpiece vase. (Notice I used a single orchid stem to keep it streamlined. Smooth black river stones anchor the orchid in the vase and keep the monochromatic black illusion alive so as not to take away from the throw’s design.) I opted for these cool copper jeweled boxes from Pier 1 into which I just dropped a clear votive candle. Just the perfect amount of romantic illumination!