Once & Then Again

img_2247As hard as I try to hang on to summer, there’s no more denying that it’s fall when trees begin to look like this.

img_7514-1To reflect the changing season, warmer colors are in order and this runner brings the outside colors in.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is a perfect time of year to pull out the Johnson Brothers dishes and top them with napkins that pick up the subtle colors in the runner. Each napkin is held with my favorite handmade rings, each of which is a casting of an herb.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThanks to the tree that inspired colors for the table, a casual setting is complete in just a few minutes.

img_7507Leaving the runner, candles and chicks in place made the next table a breeze.  I seldom find it necessary to start from scratch as it is fun to see how a tweak here and there can result in a totally unique look.    Here change is a different set of dishes which I so enjoy using because they remind me of a very special friend who gave them to me.

img_7508The leaf design suggested using black for accent. Easy enough with square salad bowls and napkins folded to make a pocket for the flatware.  

img_7511There you have it….one centerpiece, two tables.  The best advice I have for preparing an inviting table is to keep it simple and whenever possible use some of the same things again. And always, always have a good time expressing your creativity.

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Tablescape Thursday

Found!

Have you ever put something away and not been able to find it?  I do that from time to time, and the hunt makes me crazy!  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor two years I looked high and low for these candelabra that fit so nicely into a bottle and are terrific on any table. Finally, they’ve been found  hiding in a basket under some books.  How did they get there!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIroning a tablecloth from Provence, I noticed a border of sunflowers which are the last flower to bloom in Maine.  Right away a tablescape that would combine the found candelabra, sunflowers and the cloth began taking form in my mind. What I liked was the notion that the table would have sunny summer colors and at the same time be a lead in to fall.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom there it was easy to make the table happen.  Yellow plates, yes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was was a no brainer to accessorize with the cranberry tones of the tablecloth. I’m crazy about the square shape of the cup and saucer….so contemporary looking but from a set of dishes popular in the 1940’s.  Some things just don’t go out of style.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese little guys, cigalles they are called in Provence, are supposed to keep a table cloth from blowing off the table, but here they are used as napkin rings.  They are fun finds from a street market in Gordes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn a matter of minutes, the table is set, and I’m off to the kitchen to prepare gazpacho with which to fill those cups.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATomatoes are at their best right now, and gazpacho is one of my favorite ways to use them.  I throw all the vegetables in the blender with Clamato juice (1-2 cups) and blend until they are smooth. Here I used a mixed selection of tomatoes (4-6 depending on size) and a zucchini in place of the more traditional cucumber.  You can be creative with your vegetable choices.  When the ingredients are well blended, add a teaspoon each of red wine vinegar and sugar and salt and pepper to taste.  If you like a bit of spice, add a touch of Tabasco or red pepper.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI like to top the soup with diced veggies and a dollop of sour cream and when I have it I throw in some chopped lobster.  Hmm, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

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Hydrangea Inspiration

hydrangea_macrophylla_-_hortensia_hydrangeaI am amazed by how the colors on this one hydrangea bush change from first blooms to last.  They start out pink, change to blue and by now they become a showcase for a plethora of wonderful hues.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was impossible to resist cutting some of the blooms and arranging them in square vases lined with hosta leaves.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey were perfect backdrops for a few of my cranberry bells and on the table they, of course, became inspiration for a tablescape.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt started with  lovely Johnson Brothers plates, but there was something that just wasn’t right which is a sure signal to look in cabinets for something else that will work.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese square cranberry plates provided the answer and fit perfectly in the middle of the patterned ones.  You just never know how different pieces become complements.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALaundered napkins from last week’s table were laying on the counter, and it hit me they had the same colors as the hydrangeas.    On the table they go!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo far this table defined itself in a nontraditional manner so it made sense that the flatware placement not follow rules either.  With the addition of cranberry side dishes and King’s Crown thumbprint glasses, a table setting was created, a very fun one for sure.  Then the question became will it be just the hubby and me who gather here or should I issue one of my last minute invites for someone to join us so that we all might enjoy what the hydrangeas inspired.  Guess the decision!

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Fading Away

As summer fades away, so do the flowers in my garden. That makes me a tad sad as I’ve loved going out and cutting a few blooms each day to place all over the house.  I guess now the grocery will have to be my source for nature’s color.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThough they are less abundant, there are still enough flowers to fill a few containers.  I don’t know what it is about old milk bottles, but I’m always drawn to them.    These were leftovers from a yard sale on Isle au Haut happily given to me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe colors of the blooms were all that were needed to inspire tonight’s table setting when neighbors are joining us for a simple dinner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFifteen years ago we bought our house in Maine, and these placemats and napkins were among my very first purchases.  As you might guess, they’ve been used time and time again as their colors make them a versatile backdrop for so many dishes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis time around the dishes are neutral accented by multi colored glasses (are they really glasses when they are metal?) that were special finds in a local antique, maybe junk, shop. They remind me of some my grandmother had though I think hers had a flared top.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinished the table is alive with happy color and again shows how a simple setting can enliven a table.  It just doesn’t take much to put together something that makes any meal seem more special.

P7276266.jpgSpeaking of the meal, our local fish market got a freshly caught halibut this morning so it was impossible to resist getting four steaks that make for a very easy dinner.  The hubby grills them and then the steaks are topped with homemade pesto.  It doesn’t get better than that!

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Last Minute Doings

Dinner for two is a bit of a challenge at times.  Some foods are fine left over for another night, but when I realize there’s more than the hubby and I can eat and it won’t be as good a second time, that’s good excuse to ask someone to join us at the last minute.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe table…..no problem.  It’s easy to change from two places to four.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARhododendrons are blooming profusely now, and a few of those beauties in my trusty bottles make an quick and easy addition to the table.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI like these multicolored placemats because almost anything will work with them.  Tonight’s choices are black plates from Ikea and fun salad plates found at the local Goodwill.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAn extra touch are the napkin rings, a memory from last year’s stay in Tuscany.  Each one is a casting of a different herb.  I only wish I’d gotten more of these uniquely beautiful creations.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo make a last minute dinner a bit more special, we’ll start with a shooter.  There’s just enough roasted pepper/tomato soup  from another day to fill the aperitif glasses more often used for this purpose than for what they are meant for.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATable done, chicken shish kebabs ready for the grill, friends coming in a couple of hours.  

Maine house porchThat means there’s time to sit on the porch for a while and take in all the beauty that surrounds me.

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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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Coloring It Blue & Yellow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHad I not gotten those yellow placemats to go with polka dots and bunnies, I don’t know that this table would ever have happened.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell, maybe the yellow alstroemeria that was already on the table had something to do with it, too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaybe because  blue and yellow is not a usual combination for me, setting this table was like a whole new process of discovery. Out came the denim chargers that typically appear only during rodeo time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Polish pottery happens to belong to my daughter, but it is here until she has space for it.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe same is true for the beautiful blue stems.  I just have to be careful not to break one before she claims them again.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m crazy for birds and bird houses, so how could I have forgotten about these cute, cute napkin rings?  Sometimes I put things away without remembering where, but that makes for some nice surprises!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaybe because it’s a new look for me, I am so enjoying this table.  There may have to be more blue and yellow in my future.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the menu tonight are stuffed peppers.  For a new twist, I used cauliflower, ground fine, as a filler rather than rice and added some grated carrots.  I can’t wait to see how they turn out, but I can’t imagine them not being very tasty.  Simmering away in the slow cooker, they certainly smell good.

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