One Last Time

As you may know, I spend roughly half the year in Rockport, Maine, and half in Houston. This is the time of year when we start thinking about the return to Texas, and this is done with some regret. It is always hard to leave friends with whom we enjoy so many good summer times. This week we have shared meals, a last one at our house so I could use up whatever edibles were left.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASetting the table is always the first thing that happens when folks are coming for dinner. Ordinarily that is the easy part, but this one had me going in all different directions. I wanted to use the pumpkins and gourds that have been part of every table for the last month. To change them up a bit, they were worked in around a piece gotten some years ago from TJ Maxx.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThat was the easy part. For some reason I couldn’t decide where to go from there. I tried this and that and finally decided to let the centerpiece be the star of this last table.
Playing off the colors in the runner, black plates were used on brown placemats. That’s pretty subtle for me!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom there, I added the harlequin patterned plates that are favorites.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor whatever reason, they just didn’t strike me right so it was back to the cabinet for more black. Additional color would have to come from the salad that would be served on them.
I liked the coppery tone of the flatware with the darker ones, but having it lay alongside the plate didn’t satisfy me. Are you beginning to feel my struggle?
Ultimately, copper and silver were combined and after several arrangements contained in a napkin.

There’s nothing left to do but add a mix of stemware
pa194660.jpgand sweet little cordials for the remainder of the puffball soup that had been in the freezer.

After so many tries, it was time to walk away and be satisfied with the result.
pa194675.jpgConsidering the changes, it’s a good thing I started early preparing the table otherwise dinner may never have happened. Later in the day the sun hit just right on the pumpkins and gourds, and I knew it had been the right decision to let them be the star. Now if I can just figure out how to get them to Houston…….


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Tablescape Thursday

Stepping Into Fall

As much as I have resisted the coming of fall, the calendar says it’s here, and I am taking baby steps to welcome it.

The first step is purchasing pumpkins and gourds.  With their varied colors and textures, they are my favorite offerings of the season.

Company is coming for dinner, so the first place they are going to be used is as a centerpiece on the dining room table. They are arranged on a fall colored tablecloth that has been folded to serve as a runner.

With so much color to work with, the rest is easy.  As they so often are, the versatile Dollar Tree plates are a good choice.

This time they are on a flared placemat from TJ Maxx and topped with a fall themed napkin folded to have the pumpkin image front and center.

Until I walked out into the yard, I thought glasses and flatware were the finishing touches to the table.

Wind had littered the ground with small branches which I gathered to throw away. As I was breaking them up it occurred to me that the smaller twigs would be a fun addition to the centerpiece. I am a believer that anything can work.

So there you have it, the table is finished and is just as warm and friendly as the folks who will gather there.

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Tablescape Thursday

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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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Tablescape Thursday

Pumpkins and Roses

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I have a real hard time getting rid of all the pumpkins and gourds I so carefully chose for their color and texture back in September, but now that we’ve moved into a new season their time is past.  At least that’s true for most of them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI couldn’t resist using some of the white pumpkins one more time.  Roses were on special at the grocery and the red ones seemed a good way to introduce a little holiday spirit.  Once the pumpkins and roses were on the table the rest took care of itself.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhite dishes are always good because they are a great background for most any food.  My love of color prohibits everything being white so these very fun salad plates add pattern and color.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you are ever looking for those touches that add a little extra pizazz, you can always count on Anthropologie as a great resource.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis table is round meaning that rectangular placemats don’t fit quite right so turning them lengthwise is an easy solution.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt first clear stems were on the table, but the colors in the small plates kept jumping out at me, and I remembered the blue stems I’m holding for my daughter until she is ready for them.  Since they are here, they might as well be used!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI can’t say the Christmas bug has bitten me yet, but maybe the touches of holiday red will help it kick in.

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Tablescape Thursday

Back at the Bar

When we are in Maine, our table is often set for 4, 6 or 8 people, but here in Houston folks don’t gather as much for dinner,  so it’s more likely the hubby and I will eat together most week nights.  Many of those meals will find us sitting at the bar, but that doesn’t exclude making some effort when it comes to presentation.

pumpkins/tableRemember those pumpkins and gourds I got at Beth’s some weeks ago?  Well, they came with me to Houston, and some are on the bar. While not what I’d call a dazzling centerpiece, they do add a little pizzazz and hint at what colors might be used as a complement.

tablescapeAs for the setting, it’s not anything fancy, usually a placemat and cloth napkin folded or secured with a napkin ring, a dish or two, a glass and flatware.  

napkin ringsNot having seen such as these carved wooden animal rings from a long ago trip to Kenya for some time, using them is like rediscovering old friends.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANot every night at home is a gourmet meal.  Tonight it’s tomato basil soup and a green salad served on dishes with contrasting texture.

The reason we didn’t need much for dinner is because we had a little something extra at tini time. It was an easy to fix appetizer that is oh so good, and I’m thinking you just might want to try it.  There are only 3 ingredients: blue, roquefort or gorgonzola cheese; spinach and mushrooms. Here’s how it’s prepared:

gorgonzola dipGenerously cover the bottom of a baking dish with cheese.* Add a handful of spinach torn into small pieces and sliced mushrooms on top.  Bake at 375 until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Serve with baguette slices.

gorgonzola dipThat’s all there is to it, and I promise you it will get rave reviews. 

*I use a small cast iron skillet which makes enough for 4 people.  If you are preparing for a larger group, use multiple skillets or a larger baking dish.  In the latter case, you will have to  adjust the amounts.

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Tablescape Thursday

Inspiration Thursday

Foodie Friday

Fall is………

fall on the hillsI grew up in south Florida and have spent most of my adult life in Houston, so experiencing fall in Maine is a special treat.  As many of you have said, fall means cooler temperatures and changing leaves.  While that is true, fall is much more than that to me.blueberry field, fall

Fall is fields of wild blueberries glowing brilliantly under a shining sun before slumbering for the winter.

pumpkinsFall is pumpkins of every size, shape and texture.

Rockport HarborFall is watching the harbor as one by one boats disappear until there are just a few whose hearty owners will brave a few more cool afternoon sails.

lobster boatFall is watching lobster boats go out later in the morning and return with traps, a sure indication lobstering is coming to an end.

fall/hydrangeaFall is hydrangea trees with blooms that change from white to dramatic pink in their final weeks

fall/hydrangeaand bushes holding on as long as possible to their Endless Summer beauty.

fall/woodFall is wood cut and stacked to keep winter fires burning.

fallFall is wearing warm clothing and taking walks in the woods

falland marveling over nature’s beauty.

fall/sunsetFall is having my breath taken away by the drama of sunsets which change from summer pastel to rich, deep tones that color both sky and water.

fall/sunsetMost of all fall is taking in the wonder of all that is around me and wishing that it did not signal the end of the time we spend in Maine each year.

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Metamorphosis Monday

The Scoop

You Can’t Beat Beth’s

Beth'sThere may be a better farm market than Beth’s in Warren, Maine, somewhere, but I’ve not found it.  No fancy signage will get you there, but when one of these signs is on a corner, you better turn and head in that direction.

Beth'sAny time of year is a good time to go, but fall is my absolute favorite.  Do you get a hint why?  Nowhere is there so much evidence of fall bounty.

Beth's/pumpkinsThere are more varieties of pumpkins than you can imagine

Beth's/pumpkins/gourdsand so many decorative gourds that it’s almost impossible to choose which ones to take home.  If all this color and texture doesn’t get you in the mood to do some fall decorating, nothing will!

Beth'sIsn’t the name of these wonderful?  They almost inspire me to have a ladies lunch just so I can use them as a centerpiece.

Beth'sInside is just as plentiful

and with so much beautiful, fresh produce grown on the acres Beth’s farms it’s hard not to buy more than you need.

Beth'sIn addition to all these temptations, there are lots of specialty products and baked goods made in-house.

Beth'sWith all it has to offer, you can bet many of the area restaurants rely on Beth’s for their produce.

Beth'sI’m not sure though if these pumpkins are going to have many buyers!

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You’re Gonna Love it Tuesday