Some Things Aren’t Planned

ProvenceSome years ago, a daughter and I had one of those impulsive moments when we decided there was no better time to go to Provence than a couple of days later.  Excuse for such a whim was the need to exchange a pair of shoes which had been purchased months before.  Good enough, right?

As luck would have it, rather than the moderate winter weather we expected, it turned bitter cold and started snowing.  The result was like what happens in Houston when a few snowflakes fall. Traffic came to a screeching halt, 18 wheelers where slipping and sliding all over the road and what should have been a 45 minute drive was turning into an all day trip filled with tension.

As we inched along, I spied a sign reading FAIENCE with an arrow pointing to a nearby building.  That was all it took to get me off the road as at that point any diversion would be a welcome relief.

Of course, the shop was closed thanks to the inclement weather, but spying two desperate looking women parked in his driveway, the owner took pity and came out of his warm home to open his very cold workshop.

Oh, how the day did brighten as we wandered among his colorful and unique creations.

Whether out of gratitude or because I really liked his work I came away with four dinner plates and four salad plates no two of which were alike.  Not until we were underway again did I think about the challenge of getting them home without breakage.  So it is that every time the table is set with these dishes, each of which is undamaged, memories come flooding back of an impromptu adventure that had more than a few surprises.  

Oh, did we exchange the shoes? Let’s put it this way…..we tried!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Tablescape Thursday

 

Mixing It Up

Until recently I never thought of using these vases on the table, but once they landed there they’ve inspired several settings.  The colors lend themselves to many options and it’s so easy to refresh the flowers.This time around a table runner with some of my favorite colors is the background.

With these pieces on the table, it was easy to add others for a simple at home dinner with friends. Perfect color matches are in these dishes from Target. 

Though I often mix and match, this time I’m sticking with the coordinating salad plates and adding a napkin that introduces a variation in pattern but is true to the color way.

That’s all there is to it.  In less than 10 minutes, the table is set made easy by what was already there.  That is why I rarely leave a table top bare, and it doesn’t bother me at all if the same pieces are used multiple times. It’s fun to see how many different looks can be created from the same elements.

This dinner was preceded by a busy day, and that’s when a slow cooker comes in real handy.  Not only does it provide the freedom needed to do other things, it fills the house with tantalizing aroma.  For sure that was the case with these Asian Style Short Ribs that you just might want to try.

Asian Style Short Ribs

6 lbs. short ribs

salt and ground pepper

3/4 t. 5 spice powder

1/4 c. each hoisin sauce and ketchup

2 T. rice vinegar

2 T. soy sauce

1 T. fish sauce

1 T. honey

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

1 T. minced fresh ginger

5 cloves mince garlic

Season the ribs with salt, pepper and 5 spice powder.  Brown on all sides in a multipurpose cooker or broil until nicely browned.

Mix together remaining ingredients and place all in the cooker being sure to coat the ribs well with the hoisin mix.  Cover and cook on the low setting for about 6 hours or until the meat is very tender.  If the ribs are boneless, cooking time will be less.

For serving, place the ribs in a bowl or on a plate and moisten with some of the cooking liquid.  Garnish with Italian parsley or cilantro and chopped roasted peanuts or cashews.

Serves 6

I can assure you there will be no leftovers!

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Tablescape Thursday

Flowers As Art

Beautiful floral arrangements are works of art, particularly when they are created to meet a challenge such as that demanded by Florescence, an annual themed flower show in Houston. For two days the entries are displayed at the Museum of Fine Arts where huge crowds marvel at the astonishing creativity. 

 With so many of you interested in tablescapes, how could I not share these with you!  The arrangements  were to depict a dining experience at an exotic destination on a functional table for two. You may not find every element of the tablescape to be practical, but there is inspiration on each for our at home tables.

This is a very formal table with layers of textiles complementing the gold accents on the stemware and china.

Unique features are the unexpected use of orchids on the candlestickand the fish jumping into bowls filled with iridescent baubles.

As with the first table, a tall arrangement is the focal point.   I couldn’t help but think of sitting at either and wanting to move the arrangement to the side.

Two things, the teacup as a containerand a natural leaf secureing the napkin, are features  worth remembering.

This table is all about fun and thanks to the clever arrangement I could almost forgive its size as a centerpiece.  The use of pattern and color is consistent in every detail

right down to the elephants suspended at the layered corners.  What sets this table apart is its touches of whimsey.

Here pattern is key,and the layered textiles define the color palette used in both the flower selection and tableware.  

Overall, this is a simple table made warm and inviting by color and texture.  Did you notice that the floral arrangement is on the side?

So, there you have it, four different looks.  Keep in mind that in each case the table is secondary to the floral design. As beautiful as they are, the arrangements are a bit overstated for an at home table, but there are wonderful ideas for presentation and flower selection. Hopefully, there is something on each table that would translate to your personal style be it flower selection, color combination, the layering of cloth, the mixed textures or touches of whimsey.   I’d love to know your take away.

  i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Tablescape Thursday

Share Your Cup Thursday

A Flurry of Energy

After years of things piling up in his study, the hubby got bit by a flurry of energy.  For two days he went through every drawer and shelf carefully sorting the necessary from the unnecessary.  Five garbage bags later he was done, and his space is so organized it’s barely recognizable!

His energy was contagious and inspired me to attack the screen porch which this time of year is pollen laden.  I gathered broom, mop and bucket and set to work sneezing my way through the cleaning process.

Some time ago, an old table and chairs was replaced with a new set.  While the black was OK with the other furniture, it struck me that it all might look better the same color, so off to Home Depot for some black spray paint.

With the porch all clean, the furniture painted and back in place, and the hubby’s study all sparkling clean it was cause for celebration!

Luckily, it was one of those Houston evenings perfect for a simple dinner on the porch.  Simple because we were worn out by our efforts!

Simple also describes the table set with hand made pottery consistent in color but with funky shapes and pattern that make each piece unique.

The glasses, too, are offbeat with indentions at just the right spots for fingers and thumb.  I always wonder if that was intentional or a happy accident.

The napkins were an unconscious choice, but when I put them on the table I had a flashback.   They and matching placemats were an early project on my first floor loom. That means they go back about 30 years and they haven’t faded one bit despite many washings.  I can’t say the same for my store bought napkins!

Surrounded by nothing but bird song, gentle breeze and the sound of water trickling from the fountain, our tired bodies enjoyed a relaxed evening on the porch patting ourselves on the back for our flurry of energy.  Now we’ll see how long we maintain such order!

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Tablescape Thursday

Beasts, Birds & Fish

I never know what is going to inspire a table setting.  This one, I think started with seeing a red, red robin bob, bob, bobbing in the fountain.  That made me think of bird topped cloches and birdhouses, all sitting on a bright orange silk runner from Vietnam that repeats the colors of spring flowers.

From here, everything takes on a life of its own. Placemats from Thailand trimmed in orange and green provide a neutral background for whatever dishes are chosen.

Though I have little bird napkin rings, I chose these carved wooden ones from Kenya. After all, beasts and birds do one another no harm.

As I’m putting this table together, my mind is thinking about what food to serve.  I decided on fish, salmon in fact because it fits right in with the color scheme.  With that decision made, choosing plates was very easy.  

As an afterthought, I changed the wine glasses from the etched ones to the orange globed ones that I seem never to think about except at Thanksgiving.  They add just the right amount of color and are a nice contrast to the textured Fostoria water glasses.

The beasts, birds and fish have no trouble coexisting, and for me the table represents some of what I like best about spring as well as brings back memories of places I’ve traveled.  It will be fun to share with the friends who are coming.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Tablescape Thursday

Getting Back to Normal

After a couple of months of doing nothing much except laying in bed with my foot elevated, it felt good to get back to normal activity like cooking  and setting the table.

Mind you the effort was minimal, but it doesn’t take much to make a happy table especially when there’s already something there from which to work.  The handblown vases that have been  on the table for weeks gave me a starting place.

I started with pink placemats, but the turquoise ones insisted on being chosen.  Since I like color I had no problem letting them have their way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChoosing the napkins was a piece of cake as these multicolored ones from Anthropologie play off  both the vases and the placemats.  No fancy folds required because the fun napkin rings continue the colorway.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was tempting to add more color with the dinner plates, but I opted for white ones

and added salad plates with playful patterns and complementary colors.  They were pleased to be included as they have been hiding in the cabinet for far too long!

Finished with the ever faithful Fostoria thumbprint stems, a gift from my now hubby several years before we were married, the table is done.  It is a first step that makes me feel that all is right with the world!  The hubby is even happier as he has had enough of kitchen duty and is glad to welcome me back to the business of preparing meals.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Tablescape Thursday

Looking Back & Ahead

First, thank you for all of your well wishes in response to my last post.  They have great healing power.

Valentine tableIt just dawned on me that Valentine’s is a few days away.  To escape the crowds and avoid the hassle of finding a place to eat without a reservation, I started years ago making that a special evening at home for which the hubby is most grateful.

tablescapeThis year that won’t happen as I’m not quite ready for kitchen duty, but let’s take a look back at tables that helped make the Valentine meal special.

tablescapeMost years we’ve eaten at what we call the big table.  After all, it is a special evening.

tablescapeSometimes the table has a touch of elegance, 

tablescapeand Valentine’s is a perfect time to bring out those pieces  associated with people I love.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore often than not the table is playful with those mixed patterns and colors I so like.

Valentine tableOn those February evenings when the weather is spring like and dove songs fill the air, we take advantage and eat on the screen porch, always a treat.

tablescapeNo matter where we eat or how the table is set, flowers help make it special

Valentine rosesand none are more special than the bouquet I get each year from the hubby.

No, there won’t be a dinner at home or a special table this year, but looking ahead to next week I have other plans that will give the hubby a night off from bringing me the evening meal.  Shhhh, don’t tell!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Tablescape Thursday