Olive Oil Cans & A Corkscrew

Ordinarily whatever happens to be on the dining room table inspires a dinner, but this time around the reverse was true.  I really wanted to make lobster risotto for our gourmet group which made me think an Italian theme would be a nice accompaniment. After looking around to see what would work to make that happen, these old olive oil cans  and an antique corkscrew from a Florence flea market got the table started.

From there creating a look with an Italian flair got pretty easy.  Of course, I couldn’t resist adding a few bottles of flowers from the garden.    All were on a beautiful handwoven textile made with threads as fine as a strand of hair.

There was no question about what dishes to use.  The colors in the centerpiece made these harlequin patterned ones the perfect choice.   These are among my oldest, and I never tire of using them as they lend themselves to such a variety of accessories.  Here the plate is on a copper toned charger which added a touch of texture.

Also from Italy, Cortona I believe, are my favorite napkin rings cast to depict a variety of herbs.

Because I’m not a real rule follower, I like mixing and matching.  This time I chose to do that with flatware.

My rule for setting a table is to keep it as simple as possible for the comfort of guests so I avoid using more pieces than are required for the meal.  Here only a bowl for the risotto and a salad plate were necessary.

Keeping it simple doesn’t mean sacrificing warmth or interest which together welcome guests to your table.

A word about the lobster risotto or any risotto for that matter.  Many people steer away from risotto thinking it has to be made  just before serving.  Not so!  You can make it ahead of time saving enough liquid to add at the last minute.  Then all you have to do is heat until all the liquid is gone, dish it up and serve.  That takes all the stress away.

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Tablescape Thursday

Once, Twice, Then Twice More

Holidays are for entertaining, and for me that means not reinventing the wheel for every occasion.  Knowing there would be several events here during December, it made sense to have a centerpiece that would work with whatever was going on on the table.

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This year much of my holiday decor focuses on trees, so it was a no brainer to repeat them on the dining room table.  These holly trees are my most favorite and while they are great stand alone pieces, I added a collection of finials for a bit of shine.  With nothing more than this, the table is ready to be filled with finger foods for an upcoming meeting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToo,  several casual meals for family and friends are planned during the month, and for each the table will take on a different look.  A brunch will feature Spode Christmas dishes set on a matching placemat that I happened to spot at TJ Maxx.  Though I swore not to buy anything new, how could I leave such a perfect accessory behind!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlways a table  with the Spode pieces comes together very quickly and invites adding fun complements like the candy striped flatware that gets used again and again during December.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor a dinner with friends, the Bella Ceramica pottery is featured.  While some things stay the same, different napkins and chargers give the table a whole new look.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor Christmas dinner, the setting  is a tribute to my mother whose china and Fostoria grace the table.  I am so glad to have these remembrances of her.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor seated meals, there is one change to the centerpiece.  The tallest tree is removed and replaced with a slender finial so that no one has to crane their neck to look at a person sitting opposite.

So, there you have it, four occasions satisfied with a single centerpiece. Thinking ahead about how your table will be used during the holidays and finding a common thread makes the rest quite easy plus it saves considerable time.  The bonus is that when the table is not set, it still looks attractive.

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Getting Ready

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor the hubby and me, Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday.  Maybe that’s because it’s the only one where the family still gathers at our house, and each year we hope that all of our small brood will be at the table.

img_8283Most things stay the same from the table setting to the menu. Out come the dryer hose pumpkins that have been a centerpiece mainstay for oh so many years.  

img_8280The trick is to create a little different look each time they appear.  At some point, I may have to start repeating!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

No question the Della Robbia ironstone will come out of the cabinet for its annual appearance.  It is the first set of dishes I bought so they have real sentimental value, and given that only one piece has been broken they are indestructible.  For sure the color way is reminiscent of the 70’s, but for Thanksgiving it is perfect.

Like with the pumpkins, the challenge is to change things up each year, and that is getting harder.  It’s likely that that no one notices whether anything is different,  but for me its’s  what makes setting the table fun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMost years a little something new is added.  It may be a placemat

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAor glasses or napkin rings.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome months ago I purchased this inexpensive flatware thinking the colors and shape were fun.  It never occurred to me that it would be a great match for the Thanksgiving dishes, but here it is. Carson of Downton Abbey probably wouldn’t approve of the arrangement, but it adds a bit of jauntiness.

The something new this year are the place holders that I recently found in a cute shop in Franklin, Tennessee.  You can bet they will be part of tables to come.

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With the table ready, I’d best get thinking about a grocery store list!

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Tablescape Thursday

Peony Love

peoniesYou cannot imagine how excited I get over the peonies that fill my garden with their vibrant blooms for a few short weeks this time of year.  These are not a sight to be seen in the warmer climes of Houston.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith so many blooms, how is it possible to resist cutting and bringing them inside to add beauty to any room?  You can bet that some will always find their way to the dining room table to become the focal point of a tablescape.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy oft used bottles are perfect containers and are so easy to configure in attractive arrangement.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith these beauties on the table, the rest is easy. Dishes and flatware that I found last year on sale at Target are understated additions.  Napkins pick up the colors in the antique cloth that is used as a runner and the turned back corners add a little flair.  Simple to say the least!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the peony blossoms dropped some of its petals and rather than throw them away, I scattered them on the table.  I wonder if the folks who ate here thought I’d been negligent in not cleaning them up!

IMG_6839Preparing a table is my favorite part of readying for any meal, and, as this one shows, it doesn’t have to be elaborate to be appealing.  When nature provides such abundant beauty as inspiration for creativity, the hard work is already done.

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For the Girls

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the last post, I confessed to not being able to leave a dining table top bare, and these azalea filled chicks took over the center.  A couple of days later, they have become inspiration for a tablescape.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt took only one glimpse into the cabinet to see what dishes would be a perfect complement.  As with so much else that is used here, these came from TJ Maxx.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe thumbprint glasses were a great find at a very cluttered antique shop.  It was the color that made them irresistible.  There has to be a reason , don’t you think?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANot being in this house all the time, I forget what things are where.  When I opened a drawer and rediscovered this flatware, the stainless went back into the drawer.  The quality of the flatware is not the best, but the colors couldn’t be better. 

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The napkins are held in place by those things that supposedly help people keep track of their wine glass.    They don’t always keep someone from picking up the wrong glass, but they work very well as napkin rings.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am in Maine a few days ahead of the hubby which is good excuse for a girls’ night, always such fun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe gals have already volunteered to bring appetizers, salad and dessert which makes for very easy entertaining.  I think we all enjoy meals more when we don’t have to do all the preparation.  Speaking of, now that the table is done, it’s to the kitchen to do my part.  I’m thinking lasagna, always a good dish to feed a crowd and easy to make ahead. 

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Share Your Cup Thursday

Big Truck on the Table

Hudley boysWhen the boys come for a visit, chaos and noise and messy hands are the norm, but when they leave and the house returns to quiet we do miss their young energy.

tablescapePart of their leaving is cleaning up, and as I was putting toys away this truck caught my eye and it became inspiration for a table setting.

tablescapeLogs were removed from the trailer and reloaded with colorful blooms in bottles that were transformed from green to yellow with a little spray paint.  The effort took only a few minutes and resulted in a whole new look.

tablescapeI’m not sure what purpose the two holes in the truck’s cabin are for, but in an instant they became perfect candle holders.  This is what you call making it up as you go along.

tablescapePlaying off the colors  in the cloth beneath the truck, I chose the blue and white dishes that came some time ago from Goodwill.  They are not all the same but for me that has never been a problem!

tablescapeTo spruce up the yellow napkins, I plucked a few leaves from a Japanese maple and secured them with a piece of twine.

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Add copper chargers and my favorite flatware and the table is done.

tablescapeHave I ever told you how I came by the flatware?  I saw it in a Horchow catalog 10 years or so ago and was attracted to it because each piece in the place setting had a different design.  (Remember all things do not have to match for me.)  Though tempted, I decided not to order it and go with what I already had.  Unbeknownst to me, a friend had ordered it and upon receiving it decided it was not her style.  Voila….I nicely volunteered to take the flatware off her hands rather than have her send it back.  Does that suggest it was meant to be mine?

tablescapeWell, there’s nothing else to say about this table except that it demonstrates how inspiration can come from any source and the surprise of it makes setting a table so much fun.  Should I add that I’m grateful to those three little boys for leaving their stuff all over?

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Bar Talk

Most nights the hubby and I eat at home, and because it is easy, we more often than not have our meal at the bar.  Casual? Yes, but that doesn’t mean ignoring serving the meal attractively.  Typically, there are flowers, a basket of fruit, bottles or some other simple decorative element on the bar that serves as inspiration for selecting dishes, glasses and flatware.

tablescape/barThis night yellow tipped tulips grouped in cute French yogurt bottles provide the starting point.  By the way, if you are not familiar with Kinfolk, check it out as it is a gorgeous publication.

tablescape/barFrom there, it was easy to select these dishes,

tablescape/bar napkins and placemats, all taking their colors right from the tulips.

tablescape/barAdd to those, green Fostoria stems that were a gift from my now hubby long before we ever thought about being a couple!  

tablescape/barThe last touch is the flatware from Ross that keeps the color theme going.  Though it’s always a fun addition to a table, I have to confess that it’s kinda flimsy which validates you get what you pay for!!

tablescape/barThere you have it, about 2 minutes of effort that will add to the pleasure of the evening meal.  Whether or not the hubby ever pays attention who knows, but I’m guessing he would notice if such little touches disappeared!

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Floral Friday Photos