Sunday, February 16, 2020

Anyone who has ever stopped at Mary's of Home is Where the Boat Is, knows that her blog should come with a caution sign, something like:  WARNING:  INSPIRATION AHEAD.  POSSIBLE ADDICTION AND FEELINGS OF INADEQUACY.  ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY OF FALLING IN LOVE!

So, when I was looking for inspiration for my Valentine's Day celebration, I discovered this gem among many, many of her Valentine's Day posts.  She calls it The Love Boat.

Doesn't that look amazing?  I immediately knew this was it.  So what if there were some minor difficulties?  I mean, I don't own a pontoon, it's the middle of winter here in the Midwest, and there's no possibility of getting out on a lake right now . . .  But!  I have some plaid and a picnic basket.  How hard could it be?  Well, it turns out that there’s so much more than meets the eye! Mary’s seemingly effortless stylings actually require quite a bit of planning, and a natural flair.

First, Mary used these darling white napkins with a rickrack trim.  I remember seeing them at Pier 1, and walked right past them as though they didn't exist.  I am not a good browser.  I usually go to the stores with a single purpose, and my brain shuts down to other possibilities.  Now they are no longer available, but I've had these other napkins for the last 10 years, and I figured they would do.  You can also find them in here, in another blog post.  They are not exactly the kind that I would take to a picnic, but this is, after all, Valentine’s Day.

Mary also used red napkins in a tiny gingham pattern, which I have in brown, green, pink, yellow and lavender, but not red.  But the larger gingham pattern is close enough.  Oh, and it so happens that I already owned the same exact cutting board from Kohl's.  Score!

As for the picnic basket, I have an old Longaberger basket from the 90's.  Do you remember those days when so many of us thought we'd perish unless we owned at least one Longaberger basket?  This one was one of the exclusive ones that only show hostesses could buy.  Lucky for me, I had a consultant that had a very practical streak, and once she became convinced that I was not party material (at least, NOT this kind of party) she let me buy the hostess specials at retail, swearing me to secrecy over her breaking the rules.  What made it exclusive was the narrower size of the slats.

JE T'AIME!  Isn't that romantic?  I headed off to World Market to see if I could find it.  

No luck.  However, I did find this other beautiful bottle, and, after all, isn't that how we should always choose our wine, by the look of the bottle?

I do not own any of those beautiful Skyler dishes that Mary used, but these pretty ones might work.

It’s called Pink Toile by Churchill, and depicts several idealized scenes from the English countryside.  The scene below shows a gentleman is getting ready to jump a fence with his horse, if you look to the right, his hound seems to be hiding among the bushes.

Further to the right a young man is holding a fishing rod, a swan swims nearby, and in the center of the plate, cows graze in a bucolic setting.  Yes, indeed, perfect for a picnic.

I found some heart-shaped crackers at World Market, too!

So here's my basket . . .

Now for the cheese tray.  Crackers, cheese and fruit . . . check!

My Nantucket dish by Wedgwood is even similar to Mary's . . .  I served some of our favorite cheeses:  Provolone, Port Salut and Wensleydale with Cranberry.

Because Valentine's Day fell on a Friday -  a work day for me, we had our picnic at night, and because it was dinner time, we needed something a bit more substantial, so I prepared some chicken salad and placed it on a bed of radicchio . . .

It came together very quickly by using a rotisserie chicken and adding onion, celery, roasted red peppers, cranberries, salt, pepper, a little mayo, and lemon juice.  It's one of our go-to dishes when we are busy, and my husband never seems to get tired of it!

Well, we sat on the floor by our fireplace and had our own Winter Picnic for two, while the fire crackled and some love songs played in the background . . .

We opened the champagne, which was delicious!

I pulled out our Waterford Millenium Flutes with the Heart Design . . .

I couldn't resist getting two different kinds of the Chocolove Chocolate Bars, my favorite flavors . . .

They were both excellent, but I must confess, I loooved the Orange Peel. 

And both of them came with poems printed on the inside of the wrapper!

Our "Love Boat" Picnic was wonderfully romantic, and, on a day when the wind was howling outside, we cuddled by the fireplace and celebrated our 36th Valentine's Day together.  Thank you, Mary, for helping me plan it!  Hoping that your day was filled with love.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Valentine's Day 2017

Love is in the air with Valentine's Day right around the corner, and it made me think of this table for two that I prepared for me and my honey to celebrate the day.  And that means, for me, that it must start with the flowers.  It had to be red roses ...

The toile placemats depicted such a lovely romantic scene!  He's on his knees, asking for what?  Is he asking for her favors?  Is he proposing marriage?  Methinks the lady needs further convincing ...

In another intriguing scene the lady seems to be listening to the ... troubadour?  No, it can't be a troubadour, his hose and shoes seem so fine.  Is he wooing her?  If so, his technique needs improvement.  He really needs to look into her eyes.  Or maybe he's trying to tell her to go away . . .  Alas!  Men often don't understand a woman's heart.

I have been, once again, transported by another romance from Alexandre Dumas.  Are you familiar with The Sphinx?  I thought I was an AD connoisseur, but I hadn't heard of this one!

Save it for your next vacation, when you can linger, and pay attention to the various strings of the plot and it's many characters.  I loved it!

I used all my French-looking patterns.  The dishes are Mikasa French Countryside, and the flatware is Jefferson, by Reed & Barton for Monticello.  Both have the "fiddle and thread" pattern typical of the 18th century.  The plaid napkins are from Pottery Barn, several years ago, and, finally, the wooden heart I found at Joann's and painted myself.  I needed a heart on the table.

Red goblets were a HomeGoods find several years ago, and the champagne flute are Chartres, by Atlantis, now discontinued - they were given to us at our wedding.

I forgot to photograph the food, but because St. Valentine's fell on a weekday, the menu was simple:  Strawberry Spinach Salad with Sliced Almonds and Poppyseed Dressing, Roasted Chicken with Steamed Broccoli, and for dessert . . .

Two proven aphrodisiacs, at least at our house:  Chocolate and strawberries!