“Gratitute unlocks the fullness of life.” Melody Beattie
Thanksgiving tables are fun to set with all the rich colors of fall and the theme of abundance. Every year my tables vary with how many people I am hosting. In this post, I’ll share several ideas for setting your holiday table.
This year I’ve played around with white and gold as a color theme, simply elegant. Off-white woven placemats were set on a bare table with an off-white and gold runner, repurposed from Christmas. A beautiful pashmina scarf or a length of fabric you love can stand in as a runner. I came up with 2 variations of this basic table setting. In both, I tied a gold organza ribbon around off-white napkins embroidered with gold Fleur-de-Lys. The Fleur-de-Lys are a nod to my family’s French ancestry. I added a gold leaf ornaments with a tiny gold acorn on each. The ornaments can be given to the guests as a favor. A gold charger was layered with a white dinner plate and topped with a glass amber salad plate. Amber glassware adds another layer of gold.
In the second version, the plates are left bare.
“By all these lovely tokens September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer.”
Helen Hunt Jackson
When summer’s sultry heat has abated and the leaves have just started to turn is a wonderful time to enjoy some fall alfresco dining. Take a cue from nature and highlight autumn’s gorgeous jewel shades in your table setting. Start dinner a bit earlier to catch the setting sun and share some easy conversation around a table set under the early autumn sky. Bring in some candlelight and break out the sweaters to stretch the evening under the stars.
“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the mind.” Luther Burbank
One of my favorite challenges is to create floral arrangements out of what is blooming in my garden, no matter the season. Come fall, the selections are fewer but no less interesting. I was hosting a large group recently and needed several floral arrangements to place throughout the house. I went foraging in my garden and this is what I was able to find to work with:
- persicaria ‘Red Dragon’, for its pretty purple and green foliage
- hydrangea, in various stages of colors from green to deep pinks
- astilbe in its post flowering seed stage
- a few yellow annual dahlias still blooming in a planter
- hardy begonias both for their delicate pink flowers and for their striking heart-shaped leaves
- sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, still in its green stage
- a single ‘Pierre-Auguste Renoir’ rose
I will show you half a dozen way I used different combinations of these flowers to create beautiful arrangements, all a bit different from one another. Even when I didn’t think I had very much to work with and I was ready to run out to buy flowers, I managed to create seasonal centerpieces and hope to give you ideas to do the same.
For the bar area I created a tall arrangement in a birch bark container using astilbe, sedum, hydrangea, upside down begonia leaves and feather clusters in autumnal colors. I started with a tight bundle of astilbe. I then wrapped sedum around their stems. Next came a crown of hydrangeas just beneath the sedum. I finished the arrangement with upside down begonia leaves for their striking pink color. I just gathered the flowers in hand and tied the stems together with an elastic band to keep the arrangement tight. I stuck the feathers in last. This is my favorite creation by far. Doesn’t it look like it came from a high end florist? Continue reading
“The best way to eat crabs, as everyone knows, is off newspaper at a large table with a large number of people.” Laurie Colwin
A crab boil is one of the easiest summer entertaining parties to host. Low on stress and high on fun, I make mine even easier by ordering the crabs already cooked, encrusted in Old-Bay style seasoning and picked up piping hot, right before guests arrive. Where we live these red-shelled beauties are Maryland blue crabs from the Chesapeake. Their Latin name, Callinectes sapidus, means beautiful swimmer. Their flesh is sweet and succulent and they are in season now. Aren’t they gorgeous? Continue reading
Treating you to lots of eye candy today to inspire your spring or Easter décor and entertaining! From the welcome of spring blooms on our front porch to Easter around the house and at the table, there are ideas galore to take away. Enjoy!
An ice cream parlor chair repurposed into a planter greets visitors with a chalkboard welcome sign. Tutorial here.
“Man cannot live on presents alone.” NYTimes
I love that quote! After the last present has been opened, your loved ones will be famished. Many of these brunch recipes can be made ahead, leaving you to savor the magic of the season too. From sweet to savory, all of these recipes are delicious and sure to please your peeps as you break the fast together on Christmas morn.
Cranberry Orange Scones
Festive with a wonderful orange glaze.
Did you know December 12th is National Poinsettia Day in the US? To celebrate, I’ve got a tutorial for creating a fun candy cane covered vase for a small poinsettia. The poinsettia is a member of the spurge family and is indigenous to Mexico. Its English name originated from the first US minister to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, who introduced the plant to the US in 1825. In Mexico the plant is called Flor de Noche Buena or Christmas Eve Flower, which is such a pretty name. The Aztecs used the plant to produce red dye and as an anti pyretic. Today, the plant is mostly ornamental and beloved around the world. Did you know that the flowers of the poinsettia are really small and grouped in the yellowish center of the colored bracts? That’s right. The bright red “flowers” of the classic poinsettia are actually its leaves. The bracts can also be pink, cream, orange, pale green or marbled. Now let’s get to this fun project!
“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”
― Ernest Hemingway
Wine crates are one of my favorite containers for displaying flowers. They are available for free from most wine stores and come in many different sizes. They can be painted or stained if desired to coordinate with a décor theme. Because of their generous size, they make an imposing centerpiece once filled with flowers.
This wine crate was filled with pots of annual flowers. I ran a string of whimsical dragonfly lights through the flowers to light up the centerpiece for an evening party. Magical! For detailed instructions on how-to, please click here. Continue reading
“Gather a shell…And listen at its lips: they sigh…The echo of the whole sea’s speech.” Dante Gabriel Rossetti
The sea for me is rejuvenating and its majesty always awe-inspiring. This table setting recalls the breathtaking beauty of the beach and conjures up favorite seashore vacations. I started designing this tablescape with a piece of driftwood recently found on a windswept beach and our family collection of shells. I kept the table setting casual and carefree. An irridescent scarf in many shades of ocean blues shimmers across the table.
Spring has finally sprung! The garden is in full glorious bloom, the birds are singing their little hearts out and the kitchen is switching gears to produce lighter meals with spring flavors. To celebrate spring’s arrival, I made a gorgeous niçoise salad dressed with a citrusy Meyer lemon vinaigrette and served it with spice-rubbed salmon, grilled on a cedar plank. A Meyer lemon ricotta cake I featured last week made for a light springtime dessert. A simple fresh menu, all gluten free, complete with a centerpiece from my garden.
Colorful spring arrangement from my garden: red tulips, daffodils, leucojum, Virginia bluebells, pink hellebores, viburnum branches still in bud. Do you recognize the trellis bread basket standing in as a vase?