Cinco de Mayo Simply Done

Cinco de Mayo (not to be confused with Mexican Independence Day) is just a couple of short days away. I’m not feeling 100% by any stretch, but here’s how we’ll be celebrating the commemoration of the Mexican victory over French forces at The Battle of Puebla: with delicious food, a little tequila, and a prayer that wars and conflicts of all manner can be abolished in the future! (Fat chance, I know, but a girl can hope!)

 

 

 

The table is set for 6 in our small dining room. I aimed for a rustic look, opting to leave the wood of the table exposed. Square rattan chargers from Tuesday Morning are topped with brilliant Maxcera “Terra Cotta Sunflower” square plates. (I used these plates for another tablescape, Sunflower Simple, back in 2011.) The napkin fold is one of those 10-second jobs that I use so often. The versatile contemporary flatware is J.A. Henckels “Bellaserra”, and the substantially weighted goldenrod bubble stemware is from TJ Maxx.

 

 

This old wood planter box is still a favorite for me. For this centerpiece, it is filled with a couple of sago palms and all kinds of succulents. VERY simple!

 

I used miniature terra cotta pots as candle holders on each end of the wood box to complete the simple centerpiece.

The side buffet is lightly adorned with an oversized rustic wood bowl flanked by green ceramic candlesticks. On the opposite end with the tortillas is another sago palm with a sunflower in a glazed terra cotta vase. Another palm is seen in the mirror sitting on the china cabinet.

 

 

 

 

The bar cart is decked out with decorative elements that mirror those on the table and buffet to complete the look in the room.

That’s about it…Cinco de Mayo decor VERY simply done!!!

Additional Cinco de Mayo tablescapes can be viewed:
Cinco de Mayo 2013
Serape High Style

Or these tablescapes are certainly adaptable to a Cinco de Mayo celebration:
Sunflower Simple
Brilliant Italian
Summer Breeze
Christmas Fiesta

Que tengas un buen celebración!!!

 

 

Stars & Stripes

IF

INSPIRATION: My Daddy. A man who gave much to his country through tireless service in his community and unparalleled love for his family.

I’d like to thank my regular readers for your kind indulgence and your incredibly compassionate phone calls, cards and emails over these last several weeks as I took time to care for and then ultimately say goodbye to my Daddy. (A SUPER BIG thanks to Liz at “Infuse With Liz” for fielding questions on my behalf!) These last few weeks have been some of the hardest of my life. I saw a person I have literally known all of my life slowly wither before my eyes. I lived with Daddy at the hospital and then at Hospice House for the final week of his life. When it became apparent the end was just minutes away (Ramon told me the signs to look for), I crawled into bed with him and held him as tightly as I could to keep his gaunt little body warm until the angels came to take him home to Jesus. I wanted this remarkable, scholarly, introspective, golf-playing, popcorn/apple pie/peanut butter on waffles-eating former farm boy of a man who lived his life with gusto and touched so many in such positive ways to know without question that he was loved and cherished on the day he died even more than the day he was born. My Daddy, James B. “Jim” Wilson, a.k.a. “The Kissing Bandit”, no longer walks this earth. He now lives in what I have chosen to call a “cozy upscale one-bedroom condo with fabulous marble door, incredible pastoral view, and very quiet neighbors”, a.k.a. a mausoleum at a nearby cemetery. (Daddy was a commercial realtor. I think he would be proud of my description!) I know I can go there to visit anytime I wish without calling ahead or dressing up or having anything of real interest to talk about, just like always. It will be just my Daddy and me..hangin’ out.

I am back to blogging for just a moment. There is still much to do in the way of “tying up loose ends” that must be addressed and preparation for the now rescheduled surgery previously planned for June 21st. I had this 4th of July tablescape all set, photographed, and ready to publish, though, so I’d like to share it with you.
(Click on any photo, then click again to enlarge it and see close-up details.)

Full deck - Stars & Stripes, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One

Full table - Stars & Stripes, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-OneI set up this casual table for 12 on a clear, sunny day back in May. Two 6-ft. folding tables are nattily dressed in double layers: full-length 90″ x 132″ white topped with a 60″ x 102″ navy blue tablecloth from LinenTablecloth.com. The 4th of July is the time to dress a table in multiple hues that reflect the colors of our nation’s flag! (LinenTablecloth.com has some GREAT patriotic linens in stars and stripes, too! They’re on sale this week, so it’s not too late to get them for your 4th of July tablescape!!!)

Multiple place settings - Stars & Stripes, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One

Patriotic place setting - Stars & Stripes, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One

Napkins & flatware, rim shot, flag on plate collage

Stemware - Stars & Stripes, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-OneEach place setting starts with a woven rattan square charger from Tuesday Morning. Stark white square dinner plates from the B. Smith collection at Bed, Bath & Beyond are topped with square navy salad plates from Pier 1. A small American flag is a natural guest favor. I wanted the napkins (doubled because let’s face it…barbecue is messy and you’ll need at least two!) to really stand out against the deep navy tablecloth, so I draped a bright red one off the side of the table at each setting and then topped them with alternating stars or stripes in navy & white. The flatware is one of my favorites with such an appropriate name for Independence Day: Hampton Silversmith’s “Patriotic – Mirror”. The simple clear glassware is from Old Time Pottery.

White resin bistro chairs - Stars & Stripes, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-OneEven humble white bistro chairs look great when all lined up like soldiers!

Patriotic floral centerpiece - Stars & Stripes, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One

Table flags & Pelligrino collageThe centerpiece that marches the entire length of the table is very simple but effective. Two large white glass vases are filled with lots of branches dotted with small white flowers. Look closely…the profusion of blossoms kind of reminds you of a fireworks display in the sky! Or perhaps sparklers?! Smaller white vases filled with bouquets of small American flags from Target are placed at intervals along with flag pairs on tabletop stands. Bottles of Pellegrino are placed on the table for guests, and they look right at home with their sassy red stars.

Buffet table - Stars & Stripes, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-OneThe small buffet table has decor befitting the occasion that complements the dining table.

American flag "bouquet" - Stars & Stripes, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-OneA large “bouquet” of American flags poked into a white ceramic vase flaps in the wind.

Pelligrino collage - Stars & Stripes, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-OneI love it when food packaging works into my decorating scheme!!!

Watermelon slice, stacked plates, forks, iron stars collageThese rustic cast iron stars usually hang out in a guest bedroom, but today they are part of this tablescape. A juicy watermelon wedge sits atop a stack of white appetizer plates from Crate & Barrel.

Barbershop Quartet Boater - Stars & Stripes, Tablescapes at Table Twenty-OneI’ve had these fun turn-of-the-century boaters for a long time. The red, white & blue trim takes me back to the days of Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson or Harry S. Truman when barbershop quartets were cool and politics might have actually been fun! 🙂

Cake plateaus, whole watermelon, Absolut collageI’m a big fan of “grown up dessert” made of a whole watermelon injected with vodka. Delicious, light, juicy, and FUN!!! The red, white & blue ceramic cake stands are from Hobby Lobby.

Other tablescapes with a patriotic theme on this site:
All-American Seafood Boil
“Stars & Stripes”

“4th of July Coastal Style”
Lauren in the Library
American Royal Tablescape
Show Me State Dinner
Red, White & Blueberries
Peacefully Patriotic

I’ll be rejoining a couple of fun blog parties this week: Cuisine Kathleen’s “Let’s Dish!” on Wednesday after 6:00 p.m. (CDT) and Susan’s “Tablescape Thursday” on Thursday after 9:00 a.m. I hope you’ll come along with me to these parties to see what all the other talented tablescapers out there are doing for the 4th of July holiday! Check me out at BeBetsy.com, too!

In support of our military and their families, please join me for The Coconut Head Survival Guide’s “Memorial Day Patriot’s Palooza Party”!!!

The Bluebird Special – In My Mother’s Honor/My Brother’s Memory

It’s going to take forever to write this, but this time I’m going to do it……………

I love my parents. They put up with a LOT from me when I was a kid. I mean A LOT, people!!! I was crazy!!! If I had a daughter like me, I would have put her in a nunnery and not just throw away the key, but melt it into a doorstop to make the door more secure!!! They hung in there, though…especially my Mom. Frustrated and befuddled as she may have been, she hung in there. Throughout my life she has weathered my boyfriends, husbands, breakups, career changes, household moves, hairstyles, and even my “I just want to experience life” crap. My Mom has been good to me and good for me. For all three of us – Berishia (who I call Barf), Jay (my little brother who I called Hemorrhoid because he was such a pain in the @$$!), and me (who Jay called “Erica” as in Erica Kane because of the aforementioned “husbandS” thing!). She has been a role model and a cheerleader in more ways than I could write without a serious case of carpel tunnel setting in. She has been a Mother and a friend all in one…and that’s not always easy with a kid like me. 🙂

So….my Mom’s birthday is coming up this Friday. I don’t think she’ll mind my telling her age because it’s in her Senate bio and has been splashed across every newspaper and mentioned in every television or print media interview she has ever given. She’ll be 84 years young. And when I say “years young”, believe it!!! She can still out-shop (“rag pullin'” as she calls it), out-party, and out-dance me by a mile. (I suffer from extreme “Elaineism” when it comes to dancing…y’all know that “Seinfeld” episode!) This woman stirs Eveready® batteries in with her oatmeal for breakfast!
(Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge it.)

Inspiration collage

INSPIRATION: (1) I almost broke this little pot I found about a month after my little brother, whose trucking handle was “Bluebird” – lost his life in a motorcycle accident. (2) While driving today, I saw 3 of these Pavlich trucks (the company he loved and worked for) when I haven’t seen any in months. It was a sign. I knew it was time.

IFI started this Spring birthday tablescape with a full-length white linen from Linen Tablecloth.

IF

IF

IFI display the bluebird pot in a guest bedroom. I’ve had it since 1999. When in 2010 when I saw these beautiful “Early Bird” plates & bowls at Pier 1 with the bluebird in the bowl, it hit me right away that I had to have them. I wanted to create a table to honor my brother. For 3 years I tried…and for 3 years, I couldn’t do it. It was just too hard. Still is. So this year, I’m using them to honor my Mother’s birthday – which is joyous and because last year I teased her about eating dinner at “The IHop Hour” which is like 3 in the afternoon when the senior discount starts at IHop restaurants! – and my brother whose memory from this day forward I choose to rejoice in rather than mourn.

IFI ran my sister all over the state of Minnesota looking for these square rattan chargers from Tuesday Morning last year. She shipped them here just in time for my stepdaughter’s birthday dinner party. The faux bamboo flatware was a great buy at JC Penney Outlet.

Stemware, Napkin collageThe stemware are those wonderful green Dollar Tree goblets we all know and love! These are the best buy!!! Attractive, usable in all four seasons and, at just $1 each, unbeatable in value! I bought the napkins, aptly named Spring Tulips, and the green woven napkin rings at Bed, Bath & Beyond several years ago. I like this “bow tie” because it can be both masculine (in black, gray, or some manly pattern) or feminine like it is here in this buttery yellow.

DSCN2757WM

Centerpiece collageThe centerpiece is a tangle of delicate yellow tulips in white ceramic vases (Michaels), a variety of bird nests filled with eggs, birdhouses, and boxwood balls atop white ceramic pots.

TIP: When using multiple elements in your centerpiece, try not to line everything up straight like soldiers. Try lining up a single element and then “scattering” the rest to break up the uniformity and add visual interest.

IF

Birdcage & clock collage

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IFThe buffet is simply topped with a wire birdcage and vase full of willowy branches at one end, a vintage-looking clock in the center, and an urn filled with Spanish moss and bird eggs on the opposite end.

IF

Tea cart collage

Finally, the tea cart is made ready for coffee or tea with “Early Bird” mugs and a white teapot from Home Goods.

Mom & Alycia Collage II

Clockwise: Mom & me when I was 3 months old; Mom & chillin’ on a Sunday afternoon; Mom, Jimmo &  me at last year’s Mother’s Day dinner at our house; Mom, Barf (hands on skinny little hips) & me; Mom & me at Mario Tricoci Salon; Mom & me at her 80th birthday dinner at our house. Center photo: Mom, Daddy & me before they headed out to a gala

Mom & Alycia Collage III

Clockwise: Ramon, Mom & me celebrating my 50th birthday in the nerd…uh, computer store; Mom & me doing that Grape Nuts commercial thing where the mother is mistaken for the daughter (we do weird stuff like that!); Mom & me at her campaign party; Barf, Mom & me at Thanksgiving 2010; Kelly, Mom & me celebrating Mother’s Day at our house, 2010; in the parking lot upon my return from living & working on Capitol Hill in D.C. Center photo: Mom, me & famed hairstylist/entrepreneur Mario Tricoci (he cut her hair!!!)

Mom & Alycia Collage IV

Clockwise from top: Mom & me at Bruce R. Watkins Center; at my cousin’s wedding; at Watkins Center again (we spend a lot of time there!); at my parents’ home before heading out to the Rod Stewart concert; posing like the Doublemint Twins! Center: Mom & me at her 81st birthday luncheon at our house.

Mom & Alycia Collage I

Me being the very annoying kid I am giving Mom the bunny ears; kissing her little head at her 80th birthday party at our house; my sister, niece (kneeling), Mom & me at one of her Senatorial pep rally/photo shoots; Mom, Daddy & me on the Missouri Senate floor; we laugh alike!!!; Mom & me at Elton John concert. Center photo: Mom, Daddy, Ramon & me out to dinner at the M&S to celebrate Daddy’s 83rd birthday.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!!!

Jay collage

In memory of Bluebird
July 3, 1960 – Forever in Our Memories

Joining Susan for “Tablescape Thursday”.

For more Spring-inspired tables on this site:
“Rolling Fields of Green”
“Easter Floral”
“Peonies & Pearls”
“Moss & Manzanitas”
“Easter Brunch”
“Spring Has Sprung”
“Taste of Wine Buffet”
“Apple Green Luncheon”
“Barton’s Easter Brunch”
“The Party She Deserves”
“Pinky Peter Cottontail”
“Daffodillyicious”
“Springtime in Paris”
“Welcome Back, Joel”
“Peony Power”
“Carousel Colors”
“Spring” page – featuring 2 Spring tables

Surf & Turf Dinner

Back in March I created a tablescape as part of a live auction package for the 13th Annual Taste of Lee’s Summit benefiting the Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation, Inc. (LSEF). I made good on that prize this past weekend at the lovely home of board member Mary Stilley and her husband, Jim, who hosted a fabulous gourmet dinner for ten. I agonized for months over what to do. In the end I decided to use starfish-shaped plates to represent the “surf” part of the meal, and a play on words and stretch of the imagination landed me at moss-covered balls to represent the “turf.” (Football on the brain already!!! 🙂
(Click on any image to enhance/enlarge it. All photos by Sheri L. Grant)

Starting with a plain white palette (upper left-hand corner and going clockwise), each layer went down in a painstakingly slow manner, measuring to make sure every element was precisely set.

When all was said and done…and after a few very tense minutes when Mary, Sheri and I found ourselves having to raise the billion pound light fixture to accommodate the height of the centerpiece…this is what we had. (Gosh, I wish I had pictures of that! ;-))

Starting with the photo in the upper left-hand corner of the collage and going clockwise, I started by layering two chargers: One a square rattan, and the other a round silverplate. By layering the two, I felt it gave the table the depth it would need once the plates were removed to the kitchen for the actual dinner. It also added both a sort of rough-hewn texture and a glossy shine, two elements I thought represented the surf and turf theme. The square white dinner plate was a good foundation for the colorful mix of blue and white starfish salad and appetizer plates you see here. These plates were in place upon the guests’ arrival, but then whisked to the kitchen just before the start of the meal.

The flatware is from the hostess’s personal collection. I liked the clam shell pattern that fit in with the “surf.”

The cobalt blue stems, seen in various posts on this site, were for water and the clear stems for wine.

The foundation of the centerpiece is the indigo blue “Logarno” glass vase from Z Gallerie topped with a large moss ball. The vase is lit from underneath with a multi-pinspot LED uplight designed to direct light upward into floral arrangements. (Lower right-hand corner of collage.)


The rest of the centerpiece that extends down the length of the table includes a number of repeated elements. Cobalt blue cylinders with the same color as the water stems have chunky white candles for ambient dinner light. Smaller clear cylinders, mimicking the colorless wine glasses, dot the table with white Fuji mums. Smaller moss balls and a few cobalt blue votive holders complete the look.

It was an honor and a delight to work with Mary Stilley who was most gracious to Sheri, Ramon, and me as we set up and broke down the table. She is indeed “The Hostess With the Mostess”!
Many thanks to the Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation, its Board of Directors, Advisory Board and staff (including Sheryl Franke!) for allowing me to participate in the auction for such a worthwhile cause.

Other posts on this site using blue and green:
Summer Blues & Greens
Under a Paper Moon

Other posts on this site using cobalt blue:
Daffodillyicious
Peony Power
Blue & White 30th Birthday
Summer Blues & Greens

Other posts on this site with a tropical flair:
Tropicana
Summer Breeze
Hot Tropical
Flamingos in Paradise
Oranges & Blossoms

I’m joining Cuisine Kathleen for the fun blog party known as “Let’s Dish” starting at 6:00 p.m. CDT on Wednesday. I’ll also be joining Susan for “Tablescape Thursday” on Thursday morning starting at 9:00 CDT. If you want to see the work of some really talented tablescapers, click on over to join us!

Blue & White 30th Birthday

No, silly…not my 30th birthday! We just hosted our 3rd and final child’s 30th birthday party this past Sunday. I’m putting this photo first because seeing 3 of them through to 30 deserves a celebratory drink…or two…or three! 🙂
(All photos by Sheri L. Grant. Click any image to enhance/enlarge it.)

The guest of honor requested Chinese food for her party, so cool….Asian cuisine and decor it is! As guests arrived they were invited to enjoy a virgin Mai Tai (with “fuel” provided on the side for those of us who like it leaded!!! ;-)) A mix of pineapple & orange juices splashed with cherry limeade made up the Mai Tais, and I threaded orange slices and maraschino cherries onto fun bamboo skewers from World Market to dress them up and add flavor. These beautiful cobalt blue champagne flutes from Dollar Tree were a perfect companion to our blue & white theme throughout. (Shopping at Dollar Tree and Deal$ – owned by the same parent company – is a smart way to really stretch your tablescaping dollars!) Ralph Lauren “Mandarin” plates are a decorative addition to the foyer table along with mums floating in Pier 1 white ceramic bowls.

One by one, the guests began to arrive. (My stepdaughter/the guest of honor, Robyn, is the one wearing the white sleeveless blouse.)

Because we have such a tiny dining room, we turned the family room into a casual chic Chinese restaurant in blue and white for the evening. I used white outdoor bistro chairs here, but if you can splurge on a bamboo Chiavari or Chippendale chair or even a wicker or seagrass chair…that would be beyond fabulous!!! Let your budget dictate what you use. Bamboo chairs are SO on my wish list!!!

After draping two 6-ft. oblong tables with white full-length linens to create a sumptuously long 12-foot Tuscan-style table, I created place settings using square rattan chargers from Tuesday Morning. I had my sister running all over Minnesota (the closest state to Missouri where there were more of them!) looking for enough of these for 12. Thanks, Barf! Fun monstera leaf placemats from Z Gallerie added depth and color. White square plates from the B. Smith collection (Bed Bath & Beyond) and beautiful rice bowls with a cutout for chopsticks from Old Time Pottery finish off the place setting. We kept the rice bowls on the plates as decor until just before guests were seated for dinner, at which time we moved them to the center of the table and placed the chopsticks alongside the flatware.

I never know who prefers what, so I included both Cambridge dark faux bamboo flatware (Home Goods and One King’s Lane) and stainless steel chopsticks I picked up from an Asian market in Overland Park, KS. The blue & white ceramic chopstick rests came from that same market for a very reasonable price. I bought the beautiful mother of pearl mosaic napkin rings at Old Time Pottery, but I have also seen them at Z Gallerie.

Cobalt blue goblets from Dollar Tree used for orange spice tea match the champagne flutes used for Mai Tais upon the guests’ arrival.

This large blue & white ceramic ginger jar from Home Goods served as the anchor for the extended centerpiece which also included two smaller ginger jars. All were set atop lacquered rosewood stands from Old Time Pottery to give them more prominence on the table.

To lend height, color, texture, and drama to the table, I used clear gooseneck fluted vases to hold oversized monstera leaves from Hobby Lobby that mimicked the placemats. By all means, if you have access to real monstera leaves, go for it with gusto!!! Fan palms or banana leaves would also look really cool!

I wanted the table to have an exotic Far East feel about it, so I added these cool white parrots from Z Gallerie to the mix. (To see another post with these parrots, click HERE for “Caribbean Queen”.) They looked right at home perched in the “shade” of the monstera leaves and pinkish mums.

My original idea was to hang white paper lanterns throughout the room, but the persistent pain of not one but two torn rotator cuffs put the brakes on that in a hurry. All that overhead work would have done me in for sure! So I opted to hang a few in the window (with hubby’s help!) and display more on top of the big, bulky television armoire. If you can’t move it out, decorate it!

It hit 95 degrees this day, so no one opted for hot tea after dinner. A good hostess is always prepared, though! The teapot is from Pier 1, and the little teacups are from World Market. I bought the trio of graduated size bamboo trays from a wholesaler years ago. They were stacked like this in storage, and I thought they would look cool (as well as add height) if I kept them that way.

Robyn’s favorite is chicken fried rice, so that had to be front and center on the buffet table set up in the dining room.

Appetizers included spring rolls, crab rangoon and lettuce wraps.

Another appetizer was skewered chunks of fresh pineapple and strawberries from Costco set on white miso spoons from Pier 1 and drizzled with honey. The spoons are displayed on bamboo trays purchased at Old Time Pottery.

Surely you do not think for a New York minute that I actually cooked all of this food? Ha! I leave Chinese food to the die-hard professionals who know their way around a wok! Oriental Express in Kansas City, MO, has some of the best Chinese food around, and the service always comes with a great smile from beautiful Jie (I hope I spelled that right!). Cooked to perfection every time for a very reasonable price, it’s worth the 25-minute drive from our house! Many, many thanks to everyone there for providing such a wonderful meal!!! (Full disclosure: The spring rolls and lettuce wraps were a last-minute addition from Costco.)

Oriental Express on Urbanspoon

The back buffet was simply decorated with another ginger jar on a rosewood stand flanked by two (faux) bonsai trees (TJ Maxx) and bowls (Hobby Lobby) of fresh floating mums.

After dinner, Ramon presented Robyn with her beautiful (and delicious!!!) cake from Patrick Snuffer Cakes (816-452-7590). He free-handed a cherry blossom branch in icing to go along with our Asian theme. (Do you see how Ramon is holding that cake…making it sag in the middle??? I’m going to have to give the little Mr. a good talkin’ to! :-))

After dinner and dessert, we played a fun (and slightly naughty!) fortune cookie game called “In Bed.” One of my silly former colleagues introduced me to this game about 20 years ago. Each person opens their cookie and reads their fortune aloud ending it with the words “in bed.” Try it sometime….as you can see from the expression on the guests’ faces, it’s hilarious!!!!!!!! 🙂 (Poor Mike was sweatin’ bullets reading that in front of my husband and me!)

The birthday girl and her beau, Mike, looking like the cats that ate the canary. They have a LOT of teeth, don’t they? The teeth just go on for miles, and miles, and miles, and miles….!!! 🙂
Happy 30th Birthday, Robyn!!!

More Asian-inspired tablescapes on this blog:
Mandarin Bling
Year of the Rabbit
Peaceful Peonies
Copper Zen
Mikasa ‘Daylight’ Giveaway
Mum’s the Word
Zen Garden

More posts using paper lanterns:
Under a Paper Moon
Easter Brunch

More posts on this site using cobalt blue:
Daffodillyicious
Peony Power
Surf & Turf Dinner
Brilliant Italian
Summer Blues & Greens

I am joining Susan over at Between Naps on the Porch for “Tablescape Thursday” anytime after 9:00 a.m. CDT. Join me, won’t you?