Simply Fall

shades of fall

When leaves begin wearing their rich fall colors, they inspire many a table setting at our house.

No dishes with their deep red orange tone and  leaf outlines are better complements to fall than these. They are right not only because of their color but because they always make me think of the sweet friend who gave them to me.

Playing off the black, these plates are chosen for salad,  

and for a first course of soup they are topped with cups that are companion pieces to the larger plates. The contrasting shapes of all the pieces are playful and interesting.

Add to the place setting a napkin tucked into a simple black napkin ring, and all is done, and I’m liking the way the setting brings out the richness of the table’s wood tones.

Several years ago, a daughter gave me candle holders that fit into bottles.  Somewhere along the line I put them away so well I forgot where they were.  Something made me think of them, and after searching high and low, they reappeared to become part of a fun centerpiece.

Laugh if you will, but I buy many wines because of their label.  It was fun going through the empty bottles and finding ones that would add a playful touch to the table.

Except for the time it took to recover the candle holders, this table went together in a matter of minutes which leaves plenty of time to play in the kitchen.  That’s the way I like it!

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Tablescape Thursday

Same But Different

It’s no secret that I like setting tables, but that doesn’t mean every one has to be completely different. It’s not unusual for me to leave a centerpiece in place for days, and with a few simple changes give a table an entirely different look.

This time of year I’m crazy about using pumpkin and gourds. Last week’s table showed them mixed with twigs for a natural fall look.

This time around, a couple of pumpkins were removed, a black raven and candles added.

The candle holders are in my trusty green bottles which blend right in. I’m chuckling as I remember how the candle holders came to be. A friend’s husband came home with an antique Bingo set so she decided to have a Bingo party. Everyone brought a white elephant gift that went into a basket of prizes for lucky winners. When it came my time to choose, I took the candle holders from a guy who seemed very happy to have a chance at another prize!

Back to the table. It was simple to add yellow plates that picked up the tone in the runner and the gourds and patterned napkins in the same fall colors.

The napkin fold couldn’t be easier….quarter, fold on the diagonal, turn back the corners.

pa044451.jpgFor fun, I put a little cauldron with a miniature fake pomegranate on the plate and called the table setting done.

Next day, late afternoon sun gave the centerpiece a dramatic glow which set me to thinking about the next change.  Suggestions?

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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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Farmers Market Inspiration

I can’t think of a place where there is more color and texture than at a farmers market.

The produce, the flowers combine to make me want one of everything which means I always come home with more than I need.

This time the market buys provided inspiration for a table.  It was a little challenging getting the carrots through the neck of the bottle until I found just the right size.

IMG_9438With the centerpiece of flowers and vegetables in place, it was easy to choose the rest.  

I had planned on using the black plates with the harlequin bowls, but one plate was missing….how does that happen?  

The solution was to do half of the place settings in reverse which added a touch of the unexpected.

As I added glassware to the table, I remembered the little Mason jars which I use for the kid drinks at tini time.  Off went the chosen water glasses to be replaced by the jars. 

This table was such fun to create, and as I stood back and looked at it it dawned on me that inspiration can come from anywhere.  You just have to be open to the suggestions.

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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.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Tablescape Thursday

Nothing to It!

Funny how sometimes there’s nothing to setting a table.  That is quite true of this one.  It started with a linen table runner I hadn’t used in some time.  

What drew me to it is the bird image as  I do have a thing for birds and bird houses!

It was a no brainer to add a bird house from the collection on the porch and  a little birdie that just happened to be sitting on the counter waiting to be used for something.

With so many flowers blooming in the yard, it was very easy to run out and clip a few to add a touch of color.  For me, there is no better way to arrange flowers than to stick a stem or two or three in bottles that are then grouped on the table.  

With the bird on the runner being stamped in black, there was no better choice for dishes than the black Ikea plates.  

Finishing off the table is a favorite simple napkin fold that works perfectly as a pouch for the flatware.

You know, it just doesn’t take much to make a simple dinner at home something special.  

And dinner was simple.  It was an Against the Grain pizza with pesto and mozzarella to which was added pears, bacon, pine nuts and blue cheese. 

Out of the oven, it was topped with arugula which made a salad unnecessary.  By the way, if you haven’t tried Against the Grain pizza, look for it in your frozen food section.  It is quite good, and as an extra bonus, it’s gluten free.

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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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