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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Done!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is still some last minute shopping to do and presents to be wrapped, but the table is set for Christmas dinner.  I’m not sure what that says about my priorities!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was easy to get this one ready  because, as shown last week, one centerpiece is common to all the tables prepared for the holidays.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll that has to be done is exchanging one set of dishes for another.  This time the tableware is the traditional Spode Christmas tree pattern sitting on chargers on sale at Michael’s for 70 cents each.  If you have a store nearby, the Christmas chargers are a great buy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI did change out the napkins for some hastily made ones from fabric that had been in my studio for some time.  The edges are serged with gold metallic thread that matches the stitching on the table runner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith the pronounced holly berry pattern in the napkin, this napkin ring is perfect.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs with all the holiday tables, stemware repeating the Christmas tree pattern is used and for water my favorite cranberry thumbprint glasses that seem to go with most everything I have.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, there it is, a table full of Christmas cheer.  The only thing missing is you, and I do hope you enjoy your table wherever you are.

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Never Too Many!

Beth's/pumpkinsNo question about it, I’m crazy about using pumpkins and gourds this time of year, and there’s no such thing as too many.

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Wherever they are used, they add such color and texture, two of my favorite things  when it comes to setting a table.

img_7671Those elements make it very easy to put everything else together,

img_7676especially during this season when the colors are so rich and warm.

img_7668As important as anything on the table is the humble napkin.    For me, it’s always the final touch that keeps any table from being ordinary and there are lots of options.  The above fold is one you might want to try.img_7662With the napkin laid flat, fold it on the diagonal.  

img_7663Fold from left to right to make a smaller triangle.  Repeat.

img_7665Fold each side accordion style, starting at the middle.

img_7666Hold the napkin tightly about 1 1/2″ from the bottom and tie with twine or ribbon.  Adjust the folds.

Folding the napkin is not difficult.  Where it gets a little sticky is holding it with one hand and tying it with the other.  That’s when an extra pair of hands come in handy!  Next time I do this fold, I’m going to add a leaf or a herb sprig or a flower or a cinnamon stick….well, you get the picture.  Napkins are just another way to express your creative self.  Have fun!

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And on the Table….

OK, now that we know how to eat lobster, let’s get it on the table!

lobster tableI just found these cute lobster placemats.  What’s great about them is they are paper so no matter how messy they get, they go right into the trash.  The only thing that has to be washed are the napkins or if they are too messy also get thrown away.  It’s easy to replace them as I have on hand lobster themed fabric which I cut  into 18″ squares and hem stitch on the machine.  Making your own napkins is an easy project and much less expensive than buying them.

lobster tableWhenever lobster is served, out come these plates, some round,

lobster tablesome oval but all with a lobster.

lobster tableNo matter how casual the table, I like to have something on its center.  With blooming things so plentiful right now, it’s easy to gather colorful bunches which this time are put in small sprinkler cans.  I’m crazy about containers that require no flower arranging skills!  The burlap wrapped candle holders I happened to find on sale at one of my favorite Camden shops, but they would be so easy to duplicate so go ahead and copy the idea.

lobster tableTo finish the table, I chose these glasses which were found in an antique shop.  They are a little dinted and worn and pack memories of my grandmother.  I’m betting some of you will remember these, too, and how cold they felt in your hand when they were filled with fresh made lemonade or sweet tea.

lobster tableAll done, it’s back to the kitchen to load trays with steamed lobster, corn on the cob and roasted potatoes.  It just doesn’t get any better!

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Easy Does It

tablescapeIt’s easy to prepare a table when a beautiful woven silk runner and tulips left from Valentine’s are already there to inspire.

tablescapeLooking in the cupboard for dishes, the fake Fiesta ones offered the most possibility.

tablescapeThe lavender was an obvious choice, but looking again at the runner I saw hints of orange in the stripes where color had merged to create a new tint.

tablescapeThat made the coral plate an interesting addition.

napkinsMixing patterns and textures is something I enjoy, so the multicolored/patterned napkins from Anthropologie were an easy choice.  That store is such a great place to find fun accents and sometimes there’s even something special on the sale rack!

tablescapeI love using these textured pink glasses at every opportunity.  There’s no telling how old they are as they once belonged to my very good friend’s grandmother who would be well past 100.  Needless to say, they are very special treasures. 

bellsFinally, just for fun I added a little bell to each place.  I have such a collection , and I like finding ways to get them off display shelves. 

tablescapeSimple though it is, the table has what for me makes a happy table: color, texture, pattern, whimsy.  Now, if I can just decide what to fix for dinner all will be well!  Any ideas?

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Gourmet Delight

Traveling from Maine to Texas, we aren’t seeing too many tablescapes.  Let’s face it, the emphasis at Cracker Barrel isn’t on the table!  Luckily, I am prepared to share a lovely one from a recent gathering of our Maine gourmet group.

sunflowersWalking into the room, the first thing that caught my eye were the sunflowers.  How can that warm sunny yellow not make anyone feel welcome?

tablescapeOn closer look, there is a detail on the table that shows how well the hostess knows me.  Take a look at the table runner….it’s rumpled!  She got a great big hug for that.

tablescapeUsing napkins laid on the diagonal added color and texture on the tablecloth as well as functioned as background for dishes and stemware.

tablescapeAnother detail that I appreciate is the clever napkin fold that serves as a pouch for the flatware.  It’s that kind of touch that takes any table from ordinary to extraordinary.

tablescapeWith the sunflowers and the color added by the linens, simple white dishes were a perfect choice.

tablescapeWith the sun set and candles lit, I stepped back to take it all in and could only smile appreciatively at the effort.  The table is comfortable, welcoming and beautifully laid out.  Luckily, I had my camera and could capture it all to share with you.

Linda  051 (1)The food was as good as the table. The host did a knockout job with his short ribs served over polenta that was a recipe from the wonderful Jerusalem cookbook.  It just doesn’t get any better than sharing excellent food with special friends at a lovely table.

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An Easy Start

tablescapeAs often happens, what is already on the table inspires what happens next.  In this case, it’s the wonderful piece of antique embroidered cloth that is used for a runner, the flowers and the female figure that determined both the table setting and the menu for the first gathering of the Maine gourmet group.

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The yellow in the cloth and the flowers made it easy to pick plates, a pale yellow from Tagg.  At first, I thought not to have placemats, but these multicolored straw ones from TJ Maxx begged to be used.

tablescapeBecause the little lady reminded me of a Spanish señora, it seems a good time to recreate some of the favorites from our recent Foodie Adventure in Spain.

tablescapeThe first course: gazpacho that will be served in cranberry cups that are part of a wonderful set of dishes from the 1930’s.

tablescapeI can’t stop here with  color, so alongside the wine stems are  inky blue thumbprint glasses, yet another find in a Maine antique shop.

tablescapeI can never resist doing a little something to a napkin.  Here it is folded in half, the upper left corners are turned back and the napkin is folded in half again to create a nice little pocket for the flatware.

tablescapeAll is ready for that first course to be served.

cod with shrimp and chorizoChanges will follow as the cups and saucers are replaced with blue bowls filled with our favorite cod with white beans, shrimp and chorizo (recipe here) that will become the main attraction.  Let me tell you, it doesn’t get better than this.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

PS  A sincere thanks to Kathryn at The Dedicated House and Kim at Savvy Southern Style for featuring the post on my back porch.  I appreciate all who stopped by to visit.

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