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

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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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!

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Tablescape Thursday

How It Started

When the gourmet group heard we were going to Sicily for another Foodie Adventure, a request was made for a Sicilian meal when we next hosted.   Lucky I was warned because that made me pay attention to tables and accessories when we were there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt a market I found a cloth which started the thought process.

I was very attracted to ceramic heads which were a reflection of the Moorish influence in Sicily.    I finally yielded to temptation and purchased two small ones that I knew would work into whatever tablescape would eventually evolve.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen the time came to put a table together, I brought out the chianti bottles which have been used  many times over the years.  Now I know chianti is Tuscan, but I figured as long as I kept the Italian thing going, it would be OK.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe same thing applies to the handpainted plates which were gotten in Ravello some years ago. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs I looked at the table, it dawned on me that citrus was everywhere in southern Sicily, so I went outside, cut a few stems of holly fern and arranged whatever oranges, lemons and grapefruit were in the refrigerator on the table.  They actually play off some of the images on the cloth which is proving to be quite an effective inspiration.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA dish towel doubling as a napkin and folded into a pocket for flatware

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand an orange atop the salad plate completes a table that turns out to be very reflective of sunny Sicily.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd to think it all started with a request for a Sicilian dinner which I’ll share next time.

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Old Familiar Things

With the holidays over and Christmas decorations back in storage for another year, it is comfortable getting back to all those old familiar things that are part of everyday life.

img_8456The breakfast room table is void of trees and snow globes that are replaced with what is left of the flowers the hubby gave me for our anniversary.  They are arranged in an assortment of bottles which make for a simple  and colorful centerpiece.

img_8457The table runner is one I made from a scrap of my handwoven fabric bordered with another remnant.  Sometimes it pays not to throw anything away, but when I go into my studio I wonder how it will be possible to use all that is on the shelves!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith the runner and flowers in place, it was easy to pick everything else.  The dishes are one of my favorites, Tuscany Rose from 222 Fifth.  They’ve been around for a long time, and a few pieces now have chips in them.  I’ll keep using them though until they are no longer presentable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAdd glasses and flatware,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand in just a few minutes the table is done.  I wish that preparing dinner were that quick and easy!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Tablescape Thursday