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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

MOST DEFINITELY MISBEHAVIN’!!!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mom looked like the queen she is!

 

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

Even a “croaker” has to get his nutrition!

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

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

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

I’m so proud of my Mom!!!

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

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

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

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

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

Life Is A Cabaret – New Year’s Eve

This is my final post of 2012, hopefully just in time to provide a few ideas for your swingin’ New Year’s Eve celebration. I’m going to take a little time off over the next couple of weeks to enjoy my family and friends, get ready for tax season, prepare for my Spring tablescaping classes..and put away all the Christmas decor!!!

(Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge it.)

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IMG_0025WMMy goal was to create a room with the sophisticated glitz and glamour of New York cabarets and nightclubs of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. I wanted a room that, if you allowed yourself to focus, you could almost hear The Incomparable Hildegarde, see The Rat Pack commanding all eyes with their boyish antics, feel the pulsing of the floor as the band plays, and taste the champagne as it overflows.

This is a tablescape for guys and dolls who appreciate a good time! So gentlemen, don your penguin suit (or your best Babalu-sleeved shirt) and Brylcreem. Ladies, slip into you sultry evening gown, lacy push-up bra, silky thigh high stockings, satin evening gloves, blood-red lipstick…and let’s party!!!

Table lengthwise & mulitple place setting collage

Single place settingWMTo achieve the swanky look I wanted, I started with a starched white full-length table linen. The chargers are mirrored rounds that reflect a lot of light. The Easterling “Majestic” china with its platinum rims always reminds me of a stylish gray morning suit. (Think David Beckham’s cravat and trousers at the recent royal wedding. Mmmmmm….David Beckham………………………….Ahem! Sorry. Zoned out for a second there! :-))

Flatware-Rim Shot collageThe J.A. Henckels “Bellaserra” flatware, while sleek and contemporary in its styling, works well with the place settings.

Napkin & Menu collageI created the menus on our home computer using a shimmery dark gray card stock for the backing. A simple silver brad on top and bottom reminds me of the buttons on a tuxedo shirt or snappy cuff links. (Uh oh, here come those thoughts of David Beckham again!!! ;-)) The white cotton napkin is starched to within an inch of its life, gently rolled inward from each end, and tucked neatly in an unconventional spot between the plate and charger.

Stemware collageGodinger “Chelsea” crystal stemware gleams on the table.

IMG_9879WMA sleek silver dinner bell rests at the hostess’s place setting at the head of the table.

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Mirror ball collage

Feather boa & votive candle collageThe long, luxurious centerpiece was created using multi-level silver Revere candlesticks as pedestals. On top are large mirror balls resembling the Times Square ball dropped in New York City every New Year’s Eve. (With the mirror balls, this would also make a great “Dancing With the Stars” finale watch party tablescape!) Snaking its way through the mirror ball stands and mercury votive holders is a flirty white feather boa. (Elton John called. He wants his wardrobe back! :-)) Additional candlesticks guard each end of the centerpiece with 15″ white candles to lend height, drama, and more ambient light.

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Buffet feathers & candle collageThe buffet behind the dining table is all aglow with more silver mercury glass votives and tall candlesticks. I wanted the buffet to be just as cool as the table, but complement it rather than compete. I filled 8″H mirrored bud vases with stark white goose feathers and biots. For added zing, I cut the individual “branches” of bling ornament sprays (seen whole in our Christmas tree HERE) and tucked them among the feathers. These arrangements remind me of the ostrich feather centerpieces used in swanky New York nightclubs like the Copacabana. (Uh oh…the Barry Manilow song just crept into my head and it’s NEVER gonna leave!!!)

Champagne Cart Collage

Feathers in champagne glasses collageThis is just a fun little touch on our vintage tea cart. Along with a bucket of fabulous pink champagne, a plate of caviar on toast points (because that’s how we roll on New Year’s Eve!), and the requisite noisemakers, are oversized champagne flutes filled with marabou feathers. I wanted to illuminate the feathers throughout. Problem was the LEDs that weighed no more than a good luck black-eyed pea wouldn’t hold up because the feathers were…let’s say it all together now…light as a feather!!! The lights sank to the bottom every time…but I still like the glowing effect. These would look great on the bar for a ritzy cocktail party or as table centerpieces!!!

China cabinet collageThe final touch is on the china cabinet where this beautiful crystal apéritif/digestif set (given to me by my Mom) is on display. The theme is continued here with a few strategically-placed (like a sexy cabaret dancer! ;-)) white ostrich feathers.

I thank you for spending a little time with me each week in 2012, and I wish you a safe and prosperous New Year. May 2013 bring you much love, joy and blessings!

Other tablescapes on this site suitable for New Year’s Eve:
Ringing in the New Year
White Hot
Winter Dinner
Little Black Dress
Peacock Pizzazz
Fete Noir et Gris

I will be joining The Tablescaper this Sunday for “Seasonal Sundays” where you can find all sorts of wonderful ideas for pepping up the season. Next week, as always, I’ll join Cuisine Kathleen for “Let’s Dish!” (anytime Wednesday after 6:00 p.m. CST) and Susan for “Tablescape Thursday” (anytime after 9:00 a.m., CST). I’m sure there will be lots and lots of fabulous New Year’s Eve tablescapes presented by my tablescaping colleagues around the world. You can also catch me over at BeBetsy.com.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!!

GET OUT AND PARTY LIKE IT’S 1999…
OR THE END OF THE MAYAN CALENDAR!!! 🙂