Monday, February 26, 2018

Birthday Party for a Lifetime Friend, January, 2018

"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men/Gang aft a-gley."  "To a Mouse", by Robert Burns

We are probably more familiar with "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Either way, it certainly speaks to my January and February. My early January was primarily consumed with deconstructing Christmas decorations. As soon as the task was accomplished, I was blessed to host a birthday party for my friend Becky. Following closely was my friend Guyanne's birthday luncheon at the end of January. I was on the proverbial roll. Then came February. First Sweet Mister fell prey to the flu. Threes days later, I succumbed to Flu Type A. We were both down for the count for more than two weeks. Except for a lingering cough, we both eventually came through to the other side just in time for a long planned and eagerly anticipated trip to Phoenix with dear friends. And here we are waiting for March to come in like a lion. I finally have the pics edited from Guyanne's birthday luncheon, and I'm excited to share some of them with you. Today I set a table for eight in the dining room. Come on in and join the party...

Guyanne, Becky, and I met each other in the first grade.  That's right, we we've been friends since we were six years old!  After we graduated from university, our lives all went in different directions, and we pretty much only saw each other at the high school reunions, every five to ten years.  Eventually, everyone was back on the prairie, and after our children were grown and had families of their own, we found each other once again.  Reconnecting with these lifetime friends has been one of the true joys of my life.  Along the way, we've found a number of our childhood friends, and I count each of them as one of the treasures that God has placed in my life.

I am blessed to open my doors and invite these dear friend to gather around my table.  It is a privilege to create a setting for their pleasure. The Christmas reds and greens have been carefully packed away, and I was more than ready to pull out some feminine colors.

The antique ivory runner, placemats, and napkins were a fortunate estate sale find.  They provided the perfect frame for the Mottahedeh Cornflower Blue charger plate.  It's just the right filet for...

...the Mottahedeh Tobacco Leaf dinner plate.  I've only recently begun to collect this wonderful pattern, and I am completely mesmerized by the design.  This day I paired it
 with my wedding silver, Reed & Barton Grande Renaissance.  Forty-nine years later, I would choose it again. Now on to a few of the details...

Waterford Simply Blue and La Stelle of Italy hot pink wine goblet...

Entertaining tip:  I adore the antique napkin that matches the placemat, but they are becoming fairly fragile.  I think they are no longer sturdy enough to be used, so I layered them with a stronger Madeira linen napkin for my guests.

The tiny Glass Act salt and peppers come in a number of assorted designs.  I love mixing the designs for the whimsy they provide. Go to, and you can shop to your heart's desire.

This was a sure fire way to bring color to a dreary winter day.  On to the centerpiece...

I've always been fascinated by the Herend tureens. There is a story that goes with how I acquired this one, but I'll save it for another day.

The florals, insects, and butterflies in the Herend Queen Victoria tureen work so well with the elements in the Tobacco Leaf china.

Six petite bouquets from Whole Foods were simply snipped and placed in the small urns, which at one time held Le Seda France candles.  After the luncheon, I gave the flowers to my guests to take home.

Silver birds scattered among the bouquets and the Val St. Lambert crystal candlesticks completed the elements for the centerpiece. Oh, the green accents in the chandelier were left over from Christmas.  I didn't realize they were still there until I started taking pictures.  I decided to leave them in place because I didn't want to scatter green glitter all over the plates and table.  Hardly appetizing!  

A touch of spring for a winter day.

Although my tablescape designs are always a surprise for my guests, I must confess that I tend to turn, time and again, to menus that I know will be well received.  I rotate my menus according to the guest lists. One Christmas I served the same menu six times...same menu, different audience each time.  I want my offerings to be delicious for my guests and easy for me.  A simple salad, a yummy casserole, delicious hot bread, and a dessert so good it can't be refused...that's my equation for a good meal most of the time, and I'm sticking to it. Also, if my guest list exceeds 15, I normally cater the meal and hire helpers to serve and clean up.

Everything was spit spot, and my guests would be arriving soon for the birthday celebration.

It was a delightful way to spend an afternoon with cherished friends.  Have you invited friends over for lunch lately?  Think about it, please.  Set a pretty table, and plan a meal.  Even if you serve PBJ, tuna fish sandwiches, or take-out, put it on your pretty dishes.  Your guests will feel special, and you'll have a wonderful time, too.  Let the party begin!

This week I'm joining:

Tablescape Thursday with Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch

Linda @ Life & Linda for Dishing It and Digging It

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Christmas Eve, 2017

It ended up as quite the eventful Christmas by the time all was said and done. On the 23rd, I was feeling just slightly cocky that everything was so well organized.  I could see a wonderful Christmas Eve Dinner and Tree at our house, followed by Santa ClausTree and Christmas Brunch at KC's house Christmas morning.  We weren't scheduled to make the trip to Texas this year, so Christmas afternoon was beckoning afternoon for just the two of us, doing just whatever we wanted to do.  Then came the phone call.  Sweet Mister's sister, who was spending Christmas deep down in Bryan, Texas with Sweet Mister's brother and family, had taken a fall and had broken her leg about one inch above the ankle.  We knew it was a hideous break that would require surgery, and we would need to drive to Dallas to pick her up from her brother, and then drive her the rest of the way home.  Kiss that lazy Christmas day afternoon goodbye. Suddenly everything went into overdrive.  We were still able to pull off the Christmas Eve dinner for KC's family, two of our closest friends and their family visiting from Texas. This night I set a table for 12.  We're in the dining room;  come on in and join us...

 I wanted something a little different tonight.

 I knew that the Williams Sonoma Black Watch plaid tablecloth would lend a relaxed and welcoming tone to the table.

I had been keeping an eye on the California Gold poinsettias at a local nursery.  I couldn't resist them, and they were pretty much the inspiration for my design.  Aren't they wonderful?!

 My choices kept reminding me of a homey table that might appeal to an Anglophile... I headed straight for the cabinets that housed the antique English Oak bowl and biscuit jars.  I relish the opportunity each time that I use the antique Barley Twist candlesticks.

I even went against type (for me) and chose a caramel colored candle. 

Now I was pretty pleased with my slightly different take on our Christmas Eve tablescape.  Five year old Beatrice Emaline, on the other hand, proffered her own opinion, "What in the world was Mo thinking.  Did we really want to have a second Thanksgiving table?"  It tickled me that she cared and knew enough to have an opinion.  I'll obviously need to coordinate plans more closely with her next year!  Lord, I adore that little girl.  I'm gaga over my three grandsons, too, but they show little interest in tablescaping.  If I set the table with an assortment of football, soccer, basketball, and baseball equipment, they'd be right in there from start to finish. That's the way it should be.  They've mainly been concerned about the food on the table.  It's all good!     

 I've had the della Robbia style fruit trees for years.  Some holidays I forget about them, but they offered a level of charm for tonight's table.  "Luca della Robbia (1399/1400–1482) was an Italian sculptor from Florence. Della Robbia is noted for his colorful, tin-glazed terracotta statuary, a technique which he invented and passed on to his nephew Andrea della Robbia and great-nephews Giovanni della Robbia and Girolamo della Robbia. Though a leading sculptor in stone, he worked primarily in terracotta after developing his technique in the early 1440s. His large workshop produced both cheaper works cast from molds in multiple versions, and more expensive one-off individually modeled pieces. The vibrant, polychrome glazes made his creations both more durable and expressive." (Wikipedia)

Let's look at the place settings...

I love these Pier One Copper chargers.  To me they say, "Pull up a chair, relax, and enjoy a good meal and some excellent conversation.  Stay awhile!"

Remember that not all chargers and dinner plates are "married".  To avoid a spinning dinner plate as my guest attempts to cut food, I use 8 1/2 - 9" doilies to anchor the dinner plate.  You may be lucky enough to have piles of wonderful old doilies from your grandmama.  You can also acquire some nice and inexpensive doilies via eBay.  The ones that I use most often are 8", new, and available in ecru or white, in sets of 6 for $13.00 - $15.00 and up.

I am mad for this Hartley Greens Leeds reticulated creamware dinner plate.  

The Williams Sonoma "Flax" hemstitch linen napkin is one of my all time favorites.  This is the napkin that I want to have enough to use for a luncheon or dinner with 10 round tables.

Waterford Simply Lilac is easily paired with the Tiffin Elyse wine.

The antique Fraley & Clark molded knife and fork are easily paired with the L'Argent Sophia gold teaspoon.  Remember!  Never soak flatware that is made with assembled pieces.  Long term, the adhesive that holds them together will eventually become brittle and the pieces will fall apart.  Bummer!

The place setting is complete.  Will you be comfortable seated here?

The menu for tonight:  Beef Tenderloin, Simple Salad, Green Beans, Crescent Rolls, Coconut Cream, Key Lime, and Chocolate Bourbon Pies for dessert.

You've pretty much seen the table from all angles.  No place cards tonight.  Where would you like to be seated?  

Our celebration of the most important birthday party of the year was energetic, relaxed, joyous, and relation building.  I don't know what more I could ask.  I pray that you had a blessed fulfilling Christmas and New Year!  I'm so looking forward to learn God's plan for me during 2018.  Praise and Glory to Him and unending thanks for the gift of His precious Son, Jesus, Lover of our ragged souls.

This week I'm joining:

Inspire Me Tuesday with Marty @ A Stroll Through Life

The Scoop with Confessions of a Plate Addict

It's A Party @ DIY By Design


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Garden Friends Christmas Luncheon, 2017

 You know that Christmas has come once again to our house upon stepping through the front door.  You'll be immediately be greeted with the Simpich Nativity.  I never tire of carefully assembling these precious pieces year after year.

The shepherds and their flocks are humbled by the presence of this most special babe.

Every time I begin to become overwhelmed by all the activity and projects that make up our Christmas season, I think of Mary and Joseph...the unbelievable journey that they made to Egypt and back to Bethlehem...the dangers that they endured... this teenage pregnant young woman who exhibited amazing faith in her God through it all...while she was nine months pregnant and riding on the back of a donkey!  Suddenly my personal frustrations and problems are frivolous, and my seemingly unending tasks become no problem at all.  I am blessed to be able to make preparations as we wait for the most important birthday celebrated each year. 
The Wise Men, Three Kings of the Orient tenderly offer their gifts to the newborn king.

The entryway to the living room continues to sing of the season with Santa in an orange silk robe placed in front of a trio of wrought iron lanterns.  The garland on the door is festooned with sterling silver bells, collected one at a time for more than forty years.  It beckons guests to the Christmas tree beyond.

Santa and Mrs. Claus happily greet our guests each Christmas...
Flanking the doorway, they are posed alongside the pair of antique Rose Medallion fishbowls , each holding a small lighted tree.

   Our Nana's pairs of antique Chinese red Chinoiserie commodes and antique gold mirrors complete the vignette.  I needlepointed the rug resting next to Mrs. Claus.  It is one of my favorite projects. It took me four month to complete.  Let's go into the living room where most of our Christmas decor resides.  Lots of pictures to follow, so be warned.  I'll try to be brief with my remarks.     

Looking over the back of the sofa, our stockings hang from the fireplace mantle in readiness for Santa's visit.

I stitched the four stockings many years ago.  If I can access the necessary Alexa canvases, I'll stitch one for each of our new generation of family.  I designed the insert for the shepherds on the far left.

I'm so happy with the Christmas tree stocking holders.  They are actually sturdy enough to support each stocking after it is filled for Christmas morning.

I love putting out all the Christmas pillows each year.

This is the Simpich Santa Takes a Break.

The Pottery Barn "gather" pillow was purchased.  I stitched the rest of the pillows on the couch.

More of my needlepoint pillows...

and the Simpich Santa Checks His List, carefully watched by the Simpich Chris and Melinda.

Our tree is decorated with everything from Radko to the macaroni and glitter ornament made by my son when he was 3 years old.  We typically gift our children and grandchildren with presents that don't fit under the tree.  Until just a few days before Christmas Eve, our tree is surrounded by a variety of Anna Lee dolls  and empty decorative boxes.

I originally set a table in the dining room, but because busy schedules found us with six at the table, I set a new table at the games table in the living room...

...adjacent to the Simpich Carolers.

Each character is unique and wonderful.  I adore these marvelous figures!

Back to the table...Today I've used goldstone flatware and the Vietri glass charger plate.

The dinner plate is Royal Crown Derby Red Aves.   

The crystal plate with the enticing green circle near the verge belonged to our Nana.  I have never known the maker.  Anyone have any idea?

The linen napkin with the embroidered gold design is caught in a gold beaded napkin ring.

Waterford Simply Pink goblet is paired with Lalique Treves wine goblet.  The Lalique is part of my wedding crystal.  This month we celebrate our 49th anniversary!

Pink poinsettias were simply set into the Royal Crown Derby Red Aves octagonal centerpiece bowl... 

and flanked by a pair of the Red Aves Candlesticks and a quartet of my cranberry bells.  Although I don't know the maker, I know that the bells were made in Great Britain.

Such a dignified old candlestick

I served a simple menu of Poppy Seed Chicken, green spinach salad, hot bread, and coconut cake for dessert.

Viewed from the table...

The Snow Village has graced our home for more than 45 years.  

The Simpich Elves collection is another of my favorite Christmas decorations.  I set it up under the piano, so my grand babies can pick them up and play with them. 

They are so special.

It was a wonderful time filled with good food and blessed fellowship.  I have several more Christmas luncheon tablescapes to share with you.  We host a large cocktail party in two days, so I will be occupied for the next few days.  I'll try to post a second tablescape this week.  I pray that you are enjoying your Christmas season.  Remember, if you start to feel overwhelmed on your road to Christmas, just remember the road that sweet young Mary traveled.  Cherish your days as we wait with great expectation for the most important birthday of each year.  We are truly blessed.  Merry Christmas! 

This week I'm joining:

Inspire Me Tuesday with Marty @ A Stroll Through Life

Tablescape Thursday with Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch

The Scoop with Confessions of a Plate Addict