Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Around the House

I'm posting a few pics of our Christmas decorations this year, as a reminder for future years. I've enjoyed being able to look back and see what worked -- and what did not! The baker's rack in the breakfast area is always fun to decorate.  I usually like a whimsical theme for this area, and this one includes polka dots and candy -- sure to be the favorite of my grandchildren when they arrive. 

This year I copied an idea seen on Pinterest for using small  houses, figures, and trees to create a mini Christmas village in my covered trifle bowl.
Here's a closer look:
This counted cross-stitch piece is old, but I still embrace the sentiment.  We are blessed to have both our children and their families with us this Christmas, as well as my 91 year old father-in-law!
Moving on to the living room, I used my late mother-in-law's Father Christmas collection on the bookshelves.  Last year, my sister found the little plates featuring Father Christmas at Kroger and sent them to me, and I think they are the perfect complement to all the figurines.
The mantel I kept simple, adding candy-striped candles and berry candle rings and tying ribbon around the topiaries.  Since taking this photo, my husband surprised me with a large lighted faux boxwood wreath, so we replaced the bluebonnet painting with the wreath.
I set up another mini Christmas village on a side table, using the tray from my silver service as a base.  This was a fun way to "play" without setting up a whole village.

The photo below appeared in my previous post, but I'm including it here, too.  I've had the horn candlesticks for eons, and I made the peppermint topiary several years ago.  The Norfolk Island pine spends most of the year outdoors, but it's inside for the winter, so is decorated with a few red bows.
Thank you for stopping by!  I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas with friends and family!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Red and White Christmas Table

Welcome to my house!  Here in the entryway, we have a peppermint theme going on.  I made the peppermint topiary several  years ago, and I still enjoy it.  In the mirror you can get a glimpse of the simple red and white table set for December meals.

My inspiration for the table came from a Martha Stewart image I pinned, although my table doesn't really look at all like the original one.  I like the simplicity of the table, as well as the red and white color scheme.  I also love this china pattern and would probably choose it if I were a bride today!

I knew I wanted to use the red linen table runner and the faux white amaryllis for a table that could be used throughout December.  Plain white plates and the candy cane striped napkins continue the theme from the entryway, and my Georgian Ruby glasses add a little more red.  The table looked a little too plain, though, even for minimalist me!
Then I remembered these little tidbit plates I found a few years ago in the after-Christmas sale at the Crate and Barrel outlet.  Better!
Here's a closer look at these cute reindeer plates.
Here's a look at the table.  As we get closer to Christmas, I will replace the faux flowers with either real white amaryllis or lilies.  I will also add some votives for evening meals.  I like the combination of tall flowers with low candles.

I will be linking to Cuisine Kathleen's Let's Dish this week.  Be sure to visit her to see other copycat tables!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A New Look for Old China, Part II

After my daughter saw the table linens I made to set a modern table with my (now vintage!) wedding china, she wanted a set for the Haviland Rosalinde china she inherited from her grandmother.  Here's a closeup of this pretty pattern from an earlier post.  (Click the link below the photo to see that post.)
Rosalinde for a New Generation
Taking a plate along, we headed to the home decor fabric section of JoAnn's.  We first looked for a geometric pattern in green, to complement the soft greens in the leaves of the china pattern.  But my daughter spotted  this pretty fabric that really highlights the lavender flowers in the design.
I made two runners and five napkins before running out of fabric.  I probably should have made the runners a bit narrower, but I wanted to be sure to have room for the silverware.  The fabric is Waverly Lovely Lattice in Violet, and it's a cotton sateen.  It comes in several other colors, and I'm tempted to buy more!  Here's a placesetting, with Gorham Chantilly, my mother-in-law's pattern that my children now have.
Haviland Rosalinde
I set a quick table on a recent overnight visit, just to see how the new linens would look, so there's no centerpiece.  But imagine purple mums and white pumpkins for a fall table or daffodils for a spring table!
Here's another look. 
A guest's view. . .
Haviland Rosalinde
Another closeup.  Here you can see that some of my mitered corners are better than others!  But focus on the pretty scalloped edge of the plate and the graceful lines of the silver pattern! 
My daughter was pleased with the linens as a way to set a modern-looking table with this treasured gift from her grandmother, and I know her grandmother would love seeing her beloved china enjoyed by another generation.

Linking to Let's Dish at Cuisine Kathleen

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Big Birthday at the Beach

I had a BIG birthday the last weekend in October, and my family gathered at Sandestin to help me celebrate. My husband and I arrived on Wednesday morning and headed straight to the outlets, as we couldn't get into the condo until 3:00 p.m.  I had fun using my birthday bonus at Talbots, on top of their great sales!  We had a lavish late lunch at Cuvee Bistro before heading to the condo.  We usually rent the same one-bedroom condo when it's just the two of us, but for the family weekend, my husband rented a three-bedroom, 3.5 bath one with a huge wraparound balcony that seated 20!  Here's one view of the balcony, where my older granddaughter and I were enjoying the view.
The condo was beautifully decorated, but after we all moved in, it tended to look more like this.  (Baby Emily brought a lot of her favorite toys!)
It was Emily's first trip to the beach.  Here we are hanging out under the umbrella with her mama.
Emily gets her toes wet.  The water was still warm, and the older grandchildren were in the water almost non-stop.
Except when they were playing in the sand.

Emily preferred the heated pool!
It was wonderful just spending time together.  Here my two granddaughters are enjoying one another!
On the morning of my birthday, we scheduled a dawn photo shoot at the beach.  Yes, my family members are all good sports!  It was 55 degrees, so our photographer worked quickly!

Here are some photos that we took ourselves.
Here we were all trying to get Emily to smile.  No doubt she was thinking, "Why am I freezing in this strange chair at this hour of the mornings??"
Here I am, helping to keep her warm! 
We did get some great photos, and I highly recommend Amanda at Jubilee Photography.  Here is one of the whole group.
It was definitely a memorable birthday! 

Gifted Gift Givers

Are you blessed with family and friends who are good at giving perfect gifts?  I wish I had that talent! My friend Michele, who blogs at Adventures in Thrifting, definitely has a gift for gifting!  For my birthday this year, she created a special, one-of-a-kind gift that was both charming and practical.  Michele knows that the children's books by Russell Hoban featuring Frances (a badger) are among my favorites.  A Baby Sister for Frances is what I usually give to the older sibling when a baby joins a family.  But another favorite Frances book is Bread and Jam for Frances.

In case you aren't familiar with the story, Frances is a picky eater who turns up her nose at the meals her mother serves.  Her very wise mother begins serving her bread and jam and ONLY bread and jam, three meals a day.  At first, Frances is thrilled!  She sings,
Jam on biscuits, jam on toast,
Jam is the thing that I like most!
By the next day, after a couple of meals of bread and jam, her enthusiasm is dwindling: 
Jam in the morning, jam at noon,
Bread and jam by the light of the moon.
Jam . . . is . . . very . . . nice.
By dinner that evening, when everyone else is served spaghetti with meatballs, but she faces only bread and jam, Frances starts crying at the table and softly sings,
What I am
Is tired of jam.
Of course, at that point her mother quickly brings her a plate of spaghetti and meatballs.  The next day at school, Frances lays out an elaborate lunch, complete with a tiny vase of violets and a miniature salt shaker.  She and her friend Albert agree that it's nice there are all different kinds of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.
Okay, that was a long introduction to Michele's very cool gift!  First, I opened a lovely insulated lunch bag.  Inside were several individually wrapped items, each with a clever rhyme to explain it.  I've grouped most of the items below.  (Not pictured are finger wipes and Shout wipes -- does Michele know me, or what?)  She included a tiny bud vase, to which I've added a rose, two Rubbermaid containers, a Vera napkin and napkin ring, and a tiny salt shaker.  It wasn't until I got to the salt shaker that the Frances connection occurred to me!  The little rose compact in the front right of the tray is Barbie-themed, as Michele knows I also like Barbie.  The attached verse read, "To powder your nose, Barbie offers this rose."
And there you have it -- I'm perfectly equipped for taking my own elaborate lunch to work.  Thank you for such a clever gift, Michele!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Surprise Birthday Weekend

It all started with a phone call last Friday morning from one of my sisters, the one who lives just two hours away.  She said she was in town to visit her son and his wife, but they were tied up for lunch, so why didn't we have lunch together?  Of course, I agreed, left work, and we met at our favorite Tex-Mex place.  We ordered and began visiting over our fajitas, when I noticed people standing by our table.  I looked up, and it was our other sister from Nashville and my daughter from Houston!  To say I was stunned is an understatement.  I was totally gobsmacked, and I think my daughter feared for a bit that I might have a heart attack!  It was definitely one of those "this does not compute" moments. 

The three of them had apparently been plotting for MONTHS to pull off a surprise birthday weekend, and they certainly succeeded!  My husband was in on the scheme, as were my boss and our office manager.  Yes, it was quite a web of deceit they spun!  My birthday isn't for a couple of weeks, so I wasn't suspecting anything.  However, I should also point out that I am extremely gullible. . . .

After lunch, I dashed home to throw a few things in a suitcase and we took off for Fredericksburg in the Texas hill country.  They had rented a B&B in the country that turned out to be the perfect getaway.  The 1920s farmhouse was lovely and well-stocked with breakfast goodies -- plus it had a hot tub on the back deck.  My daughter had brought appetizers and wine, which we enjoyed outside, and she also whipped up a quick pasta dish for dinner, so we didn't have to go anywhere.  It was a wonderful evening, with lots of laughter. 

My sisters presented me with some darling turquoise boots that I had had my eye on after buying a pair in cognac last year.  Apparently, my husband had QUITE a time locating the existing boots in order to find the right size to order, but he finally found them buried in the out-of-season closet.  (It's still hot here in Texas.)  I can't wait for the rain to stop so I can wear the new boots! 

Saturday morning we broke our fast with some divine chocolate croissants that my Nashville sister brought frozen and let rise overnight.  We shopped in the fun shops on Fredericksburg's main street in the morning, then had a great lunch at El Milagro.  If you ever go, don't miss their amazing mini pies!

After lunch we stopped at a produce stand to buy pumpkins, then visited some of the area wineries for wine tasting.  That was fun, and we enjoyed learning more about the area from the servers.  Who knew grapes could grow in Texas??  Two of the wineries had live music, and the last one we visited had a lovely big deck with an amazing view of the hill country. 

Here I am (on the right) with my two sisters.  
For dinner that night, we went to the Cabernet Grill, which I also highly recommend.  Don't miss their three-cheese grits as a side dish!  Sunday morning it was time to head home, but not before my daughter served her made-from-scratch biscuits and fluffy scrambled eggs. 

It was a wonderful weekend from start to finish, and I felt well-loved and well-celebrated!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Brown + White = Autumn Delight

When Kathleen of Cuisine Kathleen challenged us to set a table with ONLY white dishes plus one other color for linens and other elements, I knew I was in trouble.  You see, the only white dishes I own are plain dinner plates from Pier 1.  No salad plates, no bowls, no serving pieces, nada.  I love color and pattern, and all my other dishes reflect that preference.  But!  I was determined to join Kathleen's Let's Dish party this week, so here goes.

I thought about colors that would work with white dishes for a fall table, and I finally settled on brown.  Brown sounds dull and boring -- or should I say dull and dutiful?  I pulled out some white placemats with a brown border and brown napkins and tried those with the white plates, adding my silver flatware and clear glasses.  Not very exciting, huh? I did wish briefly that I had some lovely brown stemware in my collection, but quickly remembered that I do not want to find storage for any more glasses!
So, I remembered some open-weave brown placemats that my sister gave me and added those to the mix.  Better!
I knew I wanted to add white pumpkins, and a surprise trip to Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country over the weekend yielded a big one and several mini ones from a well-stocked produce stand.  I should have taken a photo of all the wonderful varieties they had for sale.  A mini pumpkin perked up the placesetting a bit more.
Finally, I pulled out two etched hurricanes and poured coffee beans into them, adding white pillar candles.
The large white pumpkin completed the centerpiece, and here is the result.
I rarely set a table without flowers, so I also tried a jug of white hydrangeas in place of the pumpkin. 
 Which look do you prefer?
Although I like the big white pumpkin, I think I prefer the jug of hydrangeas.  The fluffy flowers add a little additional texture.  Thank you for visiting my table this week!  Be sure to check out the other tables set for the White Dish Challenge at Cuisine Kathleen!

Monday, September 23, 2013

How Do You Like Them Apples?

The theme for this week's Let's Dish at Cuisine Kathleen is apples!  Alas, I don't have any apple-themed dishes -- yet -- so I'd have to bring apples in another way.  I decided to use my Castleton Gloria dishes that my mama surprised me with last year.  So, Saturday morning I pulled out a plate and went to the closet where I keep table linens and tried it with several different colors.  I finally settled on layering my twig placemats over some green ones. 
With the green background, Granny Smith apples were called for.  I piled a bag of small ones into my trifle bowl, added water, then stuck in carefully arranged some mums.  So easy, but I really like the look!
 I wanted to add some more color, so I used the handy tool my son gave me and cut out the tops of some larger Granny Smiths, then used it again to cut some soaked floral foam to fit the opening.  The tool makes holes the right size for tealights, but I wanted to use flowers this time.
I inserted some mums and they turned out pretty cute!
Here's another view.
The placesetting:
And a few photos of the table. . .

Thanks for stopping by!