Peacefully Patriotic

Sadly, true patriotism in America is fractured by divisiveness and vitriol. Here’s wishing us all a peaceful and reflective 4th of July.

 

I started this tablescape with a white stretch tablecloth from LinenTablecloth.com to cover the ugly legs of the folding table. The topper is blue and white star tablecloth from LinenTablecloth.com, unfortunately discontinued. To emulate the American flag, I added a red & white striped runner.

 

 

 

The simple place settings are created by using a white ceramic charger from Old Time Pottery topped with a red dinner plate and square blue salad plate from Pier 1. The napkins, also discontinued at LinenTablecloth.com, complement the tablecloth and are cinched with a shiny red & silver napkin ring from Bed, Bath & Beyond. The flatware is Hampton Silversmith “Patriot” which is one of the most favored patterns in my collection. The graceful crystal pilsner glasses were found at an estate sale.

 

I bought these star-shaped bowls from Pier 1 many years ago. They have been seen in other patriotic-themed posts on this site like “All-American Seafood Boil” and “Red, White & Blueberries”.

 

I love these LED candles! They’re a votive inside a pillar. I bought about 20 of them wholesale many, many years ago and wish I would have invested in more. They really are a terrific alternative to actual flame.

I wish you, yours, our nation, and the whole world peace as we go into this holiday weekend.

Other patriotic-themed tablescapes on this site:
All-American Seafood Boil
Red, White & Blueberries
4th of July Coastal Style
Stars & Stripes
Lauren In the Library
Show Me State Dinner

Cardinal Christmas

INSPIRATION: 222 Fifth "Holiday Wishes" dishes from T.J. Maxx

INSPIRATION: 222 Fifth “Holiday Wishes” dishes from T.J. Maxx

Busy, busy, busy! Christmas is just 3 short weeks away, and it’s a scramble. This tablescape is a cheerful mix of red & black to celebrate the flurry of cardinals settling in for the cold winter months ahead here in Missouri.
(Click on any photo and then click again to enlarge/enhance it.)

Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com: Cardinal Christmas - red & black tablescapeAll linens on this 48″ round table for 4 were purchased from LinenTablecloth.com. The 108″ red cloth is topped with a contrasting 90″ black square. A black napkin is tucked beneath the charger and casually hangs off the side of the table.

Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Cardinal Christmas: Place setting using 222 Fifth "Holiday Wishes" cardinal & pine cone dishes

Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Cardinal Christmas: 222 Fifth "Holiday Wishes" plate collage

Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Cardinal Christmas: gold tone flatware

Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Cardinal Christmas: Godinger "Chelsea" collection crystal stemwareEach place setting begins with a fire engine red acrylic square charger from World Market. The inspiration plates, “Holiday Wishes” by 222 Fifth, add pattern and color with cheerful meandering ribbon, pine cones, holly, poinsettias, and cardinals. Goldtone flatware complements the gold flourishes and Christmas greetings on the dishes. Godinger “Chelsea” collection crystal stemware completes the setting.

Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Cardinal Christmas: Berry & ribbon wreath with LED candles

Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Cardinal Christmas: Centerpiece collageThe simply assembled centerpiece has a green wreath foundation peppered with pine cones, bright red berries and wandering ribbon to pick up on the design of the dishes. For safety’s sake, assorted sizes of red LED candles fill the wreath’s center. (I am SO banned from using real candles in the house anymore!!! Don’t ask. 😦 )

Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Cardinal Christmas: Banquet chair with red stretch cover, "cardinal", pine cone & poinsettia sash

Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Cardinal Christmas: Chair collage - banquet chair with red stretch cover, "cardinal", poinsettia and pine cone sashFor extra pizzazz to my Christmas tablescapes, I sometimes add embellishments to the chair cover sashes. Here, a red stretch chair cover and sash from LinenTablecloth.com are dressed up with a length of black organza ribbon to mimic the colors of a cardinal. I then tied on a bit of pine greenery, pine cones, and a single red (faux) poinsettia. This look further extends the dish design and makes a real impact as guests enter the dining area.

Alycia Nichols, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Cardinal Christmas: Gift wrapped in red & lime green with red high heel shoe ornament affixed to the top

Just for “kicks” I want you to see the fun White Elephant Christmas gift I wrapped. The red gift wrap is accessorized with bright green ribbon and the word “joy” spelled out in little crystals. The box is topped off with a glittery red high heel shoe fit for any diva. What’s inside…something equally cool or a dud? 😉

More Christmas tablescapes on this site:
Christmas in the Woods

Tartan on the Tee
Confectionery Christmas
Christmas Progressive Dinner

Black, White & Red All Over
Frosty the Snowman
Checkered Christmas
March of the Penguins
Woodland Men’s Tablescape
Contemporary Christmas – Fire & Ice

Pink & Purple Chocolate Christmas
Black Friday Luncheon Tablescape
Winter Dinner
Christmas Through the Red Door
Sugar High
Celebrating the Season
Roman Holiday
Winter Cardinal
Merry & Bright
Kaleidoscope Christmas
Cranberry Christmas
Cranberry Christmas – Squared
Get Me to The Church On Time
Noel Progressive Dinner
Christmas Fiesta
Warm Metal Christmas
Christmas Coffee
Winter Brunch
White Hot
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Progressive Dinner
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!
Tuscan Holiday

I’ll be back next week with a tour of our home decorated for Christmas and a “transitional” tablescape I think you’ll like!

I’m linking up this week with:
Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Progressive Dinner

It’s the night before Christmas, and I’m late getting photos of our 2013 Christmas decor and annual cul-de-sac Progressive Dinner posted! Very little chit-chat tonight. I hope all your stockings are hung and that you are ready to just coast from here on out!
(Click on any photo and then click again to enhance/enlarge it and see details up close.)

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Cul-de-sac gangEvery Christmas season several of the households on our cul-de-sac get together for a progressive dinner. It’s a chance to get together one last time before the bitter cold of January chases us all indoors, to share good food, and to check out everyone’s holiday decor. I wanted my neighbors to really enjoy the ambience during the entree portion of the dinner at our house, so I got busy!

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Front doorI didn’t do a lot with the front entry door this year, nor did we put lights up outside. Next year when I’ve fully recovered, we’ll go all out again! Still, guests were greeted with a cheery wreath with our monogram.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Entry & library

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Library tree collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Secretary collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Vitrine collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas Decor 2013: Library desk, leather chair, side table collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Burlap wreath, wood slices, Swiss Army camping gearOur library, to the immediate right as you enter our home, took on a very rustic look this year. I started the look when teaching my “Art of Tablescaping” class in that room, so after taking the table down I just embellished the existing decor with even more natural elements like huge moss balls on the urns flanking the vitrine, wood slices, whittled pencils, burlap and twine. To see that “Woodland Christmas” tablescape and read more about the design elements, click HERE.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Orchid and pine greenery arrangement with uplightOn the chest at the top of the stairs is an arrangement I created in a mercury glass pilsner vase using faux greenery and orchids with an LED uplight to show it off. Really dramatic look when standing at the foot of the steps!

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Entryway arrangement

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Hallway collageBack down the stairs and into the entryway is a decorated wreath over the mirror. Lots of LED candles grace the space beneath the wreath, proclaiming it all to be “Merry & Bright”. Notice the ivory “scrunchie” that covers the electric cord. Very clever way to hide it! (I invested in about a dozen of these in several colors at Hobby Lobby about 10 years ago.)

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Dining room

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Dining Room table collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Buffet in dining room

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Tea cartEvery room has a very different theme, and this one is full of bright, cheerful color! I used many of these same elements to create 3 very different tablescapes for my “Art of Tablescaping” class. You can check them out HERE, HERE and HERE. After clearing the tablescapes and adding a few more fun pieces, this room is declared the Fun Zone! I won the wreath at the base of the mirror at a White Elephant party a couple of weeks ago, and it fit right in!

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Dining room tree and into hallwayThe brightly colored tree in the dining room has a Nativity scene beneath it. As we go back into the hallway, the table by the front door is decked out with a fun wreath and a huge LED candle. Let’s head to the living room…

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: View of living room from kitchen

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Progressive Dinner set upWe’ve moved furniture and made space in the living room for our Progressive Dinner tables. This year’s theme in this room is cardinals and reindeer. An additional theme of snowflakes was added for the dinner. The tables are covered with red full-length round tablecloths from LinenTablecloth.com. I recently purchased some ballroom chairs for events at home such as this, and they work out perfectly with cool white Spandex chair covers with contrasting red Spandex sashes, also from LinenTablecloth.com. (I LOVE these because they’re super affordable AND I don’t have to iron them!!!) This is a buffet dinner, so huge white acrylic snowflakes work as “chargers” at each place setting. LinenTablecloth.com red 20″ napkins are neatly folded into reindeer napkin rings purchased on clearance at Target last year. The centerpiece is a simple faux greenery wreath with meandering red ribbon, pine cones and red berries with a trio of LED candles (for safety!) in the center.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Kitchen & buffet collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Christmas Coffee: Black table under breakfast bar collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Christmas Decor 2013: Kitchen wreath

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Christmas Coffee: Regina Reindeer & kitchen Christmas tree collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas Progressive Dinner Decor: Candlestick arrangement in window at kitchen sinkI created this arrangement in the window behind the kitchen sink on a moment’s notice. I wanted something really dramatic for the window that could be seen from outside. I simply entwined a curvy wrought iron candlestick with faux greenery, red berry vine and red lights. I made sure to drape the vine across the countertop for a more dramatic look.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Progressive Dinner guests, I

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Progressive Dinner guests, IIGuests served themselves from a buffet in the kitchen. On the menu: a choice of Chicken Tortilla soup, Chicken & Wild Rice soup, or Chili along with nice, warm bread and iced tea. The fun red & white snowflake soup bowls and mugs are from Dollar Tree (yes…Dollar Tree!), and the snowy white ramekins – for those who preferred a “flight” of soups – are from Pier 1.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Fireplace

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Fireplace & mantel decorThe fireplace mantel is heavily decorated with faux greenery, holly, red berries, pine cones, glass ornaments and cardinals. Reindeer stocking holders (Pier 1 clearance) on each end hold ornate red & gold silk stockings. Small trees in black urns flank the fireplace hearth.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Mice on chair & small tree on hearth collageThese two lovey-dovey mice all dressed up in their Christmas finery are new. I saw them at T.J. Maxx and just fell in love with them. Their names? Ramon & Alycia, of course!!! 🙂

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Sofa, reindeer on side table collageWe have lots of black elements in the living room, so I played that up with black velvet pillows behind red silk ones with gossamer gold ribbon. The luxuriously soft throw is from T.J. Maxx. My bold gold reindeer make another appearance this year in different areas of the living room. (To see these reindeer used in other Christmas settings, click HERE and HERE.) On the table behind the sofa, a large red ornament rests above lots of lighted greenery and pine cones.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Living room tree in red & gold

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Tree ornaments

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Wrapped giftsThis year’s main tree is dressed in lots of red & gold ornaments including cardinals, musical notes, poinsettias and stockings. The tree is flanked by the two larger gold reindeer wearing sparkling wreaths around their necks. Gifts beneath the tree are all wrapped in colors that reflect the room’s color scheme.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: ArmoireThe television armoire across the room always gets a little treat, too. This year the decor mirrors that of the mantel with a huge red ornament (just like the one on the sofa table) rising up like a phoenix from behind.

All very different looks throughout the house. My mind was just going in a million different directions, and I just let the decorative chips fall where they may! 🙂

Merry Christmas, 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)

Hollywood Fright Night

Who says just because you’ve passed on to “the other side” that you can’t dine in luxury?

Join these legendary ladies of Hollywood’s most spine-tingling, edge-of-your-seat, wet-your-pants movies for a ghoulish yet stylish midnight supper. They’re just dying to have you for dinner…literally!!! Among the once shining stars on the guest list: Carrie White (Carrie, 1976), Regan Macneil (The Exorcist, 1973), Annie Wilkes (Misery, 1990), Kayako Saeki (The Grudge, 2004; The Grudge II, 2006 and The Grudge III, 2009), Baby Jane Hudson and Blanche Hudson (Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, 1962), Peyton Flanders (The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, 1992), Norma Desmond (Sunset Boulevard, 1950), and the elusive Mrs. Bates (Psycho, 1960).

No graveyard soiree for these former stars of stage and screen!

 

Because mystery men from their Hollywood heydays have fresh flowers delivered to their graves each week, there are plenty to decorate the table. Because I learned my lesson from the fiery centerpiece disaster on a windy night last month AND because the ladies get enough real fire in hell (we assume that’s where all these dastardly divas are spending eternity!), I used LED candles all around.

 

 

For each special lady, a black napkin folded into the shape of a clutch bag with a carnation embellishment. Of course, nothing but silver and our best crystal will do!

 

Creepy crawly friends check out the table arrangements.

 

Two gnarled branches of a manzanita tree grace the center of the table with gleaming silver candlesticks, cut crystal votive holders, and an array of cut crystal vases filled with pink carnations and roses.

 

Oh, no! There’s a big bloodsucking bat coming toward you and a snake in the branches!!! A couple of the ladies must have brought their agents along!

 

Ooooh! And there’s a sneaky spider. Another lady must have brought her publicist! The mouse is surely her long-suffering but faithful assistant!

 

 

Carrie is present in the form of a skull, still wearing her prized prom queen tiara. The bloody “brains & spinal tissue” oozing from her neck is fashioned from fresh red cockscomb (celosia argentea, also often referred to as Brain Celosia.)

 

Hey!  How did this guy from “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” crash the party???

 

The view from Carrie’s seat of all the candles in pitch darkness.

 

 

The view looking up from hell. 🙂 See the eerie full moon above?

Other creepy tablescapes on this site:
Serpents & Skullduggery
Ravenous Raven Graveyard Feast