Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Evolution of a Tablescape

(or a peek at Maria's tortured mind)

I have learned (the hard way - always the hard way) that when preparing a tablescape, it's really useful to photograph the design as it unfolds.  The camera captures things that are missed by the naked eye.  I have become extremely spoiled by digital photography and its instant gratification.  These images are not great, but they gave me a sense of where the setting was going so I could discard, or commit portions of the tablescape and proceed to the next step.

I wanted to showcase the design of my new love, Delamere Woodland Brown by Spode, with its myriad flowers and scroll work.  I thought, at first, to keep everthing else very simple and understated, so as not to distract from the beautiful pattern.

I also knew that I really, really liked how the check pattern on these napkins worked as a counterpoint to the floral.  Further, the brown matched the floral border on the dishes perfectly.  Color is the bane of my decorating existence.  I agonize over it constantly and doubt myself frequently.  But this time, it just clicked.

At this point, I showed what I had to my friend Patti C., but it can be confusing to show your work-in-progress to another talented tablescaper with her own unique vision.  Patti, however, did verbalize what I myself was feeling:  The table setting looked a little flat, so it was back to the drawing board.

Should I keep the napkin ring, with its wonderful scrolls and acanthus leaves that mimic the ones on the dishes . . . ?

Too much, perhaps?  Should I tuck the napkin under the salad plate and forgo the napkin ring?

Better, I think, and I like the pinecone . . .  What if I tried a gold napkin?

This is pretty!  But then I'd have to give up on the brown checked napkins . . . and I really like those napkins . . . What if I had a gold placemat instead . . . ?  I folded the gold napkin as a placemat, just for kicks . . .

Oh, wow!  I really like this!  Gold placemats are the way to go . . . but NOT this gold; it's a different shade than the goblets . . . Oh, and this wine glass is sooo wrong!  Pointy gothic arches don't seem to go with the flowery pattern on the plates . . .

I ordered the Sferra placemats online, and the color seemed like it would work, but you never know when you order things without seeing them in person . . . When I clicked on the "Checkout" button I crossed my fingers . . .  Whew! What a relief when I saw that the color was just what I hoped for! 

The placemat and goblet are playing together beautifully!  Now to press the napkins . . . Should I fold them wider . . . ?

Or narrower . . . ?

Why didn't I think to photograph the two options next to each other so I could compare them???  Go back and take more pictures . . .

Narrower, I think . . . Well, all that's left now is for the flowers to arrive . . .

Yikes!  This arrangement is NOT right!  I told the florist I wanted white roses, and I also wanted pheasant feathers . . . and I did tell him not to put in bright oranges or yellows . . . But somehow, I thought there would be some gold . . . and, although this arrangement is quite beautiful, it's a little too contemporary-looking for this particular table . . . 

I ran to the grocery store, and picked up a pre-made arrangement to take apart.  In order to tone down the yellow of the mums, the grocery store florist spray painted them with metallic gold.  I exchanged the garishly orange candle for a white one, and, after some fooling around, came up with a traditional, round arrangement, better suited to the table and the occasion . . . with some gold flowers that added a third gold element to the design . . .

As a matter of fact, it turned out even better than I could have hoped.  The soft red, dendrobium orchids added a wonderful pop of color . . . And my mother's crystal wine glasses, with their floral pattern, worked really well, too!

It's done.  Now, about the food . . .  Is ordering a pizza out of the question . . . ?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Shopping rules . . .

I dislike clothes shopping, so I follow three basic rules to keep me away from the stores as much as possible:

Rule #1:  When I find an article of clothing that fits me well, I buy it in as many colors as are available (that are flattering to my coloring, of course, you won't find me buying anything orange . . . ). 

Rule #2:  I stick to the classics and avoid fads so very little goes out of style.

Rule #3:  I try to buy good quality stuff, and take excellent care of it to stretch its life.

Today's 60% off sale was a delightful little bonus . . . Oh, wait!  There was a second bonus:  I've gone down a size!  Not bad . . . not bad at all . . .

So, what's your shopping secret . . . ?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Tablescape

This year, Thanksgiving was an intimate family dinner, with just my husband and two sons.  The youngest one had to dash off to work in the evening, so we dined early.  We prayed and broke bread over our kitchen table . . . 

The new dishes are transferware - Delamere Woodland Brown, by Spode.  Transferware was developed in England in the 18th century.  A pattern is transferred from a copper plate to a special paper, and then onto pottery.  Thousands of beautiful transferware patterns exist, and many are quite rare.

I've had a soft spot for woodland creatures since the first time I watched Bambi.  When I saw this flatware at Between Naps on the Porch, it was love at first sight.  Do we ever really grow up . . . ?

Pheasants . . . geese . . . deer . . . quail . . . hare . . .

Spode designed the flatware as a perfect compliment to the dishes . . .

A few pheasant feathers on the centerpiece to continue the theme . . .

These linen placemats, made by Sferra, were a wonderful discovery.  I loved the curry color and the generous hemstitched border. 

Marlis is entirely responsible for my having fallen in love with these napkins.  Here is the tablescape in her blog where I spotted them for the first time.  She never ceases to be a source of inspiration to me.  It's so nice that decorating rules have eased the restriction of combining checks with floral patterns.

A bird's eyeview of the table . . . I'm thankful for tall sons . . .

I used amber water goblets and my mother's crystal wine glasses.  I like how the diamond edge on the dishes is echoed in the pattern etched on the wine glasses.

Are white roses ever wrong . . . ?

I set the table early, but took more pictures as the light changed in the room . . .

I don't know that a lotus pod belongs in this traditional floral arrangement, but I liked the brown . . .

I am so thankful for our many blessings.  May God continue to watch over us all!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Dinnerware - Spode, Delamere Woodland Brown
Flatware - Woodland by Spode
Amber water goblets - French Countryside by Mikasa
Wine glasses - My mother's crystal (made in Hungary)
Linen Placemats - Made in Italy by Sferra, Curry (color), Horchow
Napkins - Pier1
Mercury Glass Pumpkin - Costco
Wreath - Crate and Barrel - Many, many years ago

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A beautiful Autumn day . . .

“Take as a gift whatever the day brings forth . . . ”
—Horace (65-8); Roman lyric poet