Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Suited to a tea: A tablesetting with tea tins

Spend a relaxing afternoon celebrating the women in your life! A Mother's Day Tea is
a way to pamper the women you love and admire. Brew a proper cup of tea and serve
it in the finest teacup you can find. Add tea sandwiches, some pasties or scones, whip
out your best linen tablecloth, add fresh flowers and candles, and any mom would feel
like a queen.

Tea doesn't have to be this predetermined snooty affair. It can be whatever you think
your mother, sister, aunt, grandmother or whoever would be honored with. You can
even use tea tins to bring an old-fashioned charm to the table.

Treat your guest to teas they love - - - and some they’ve never tired. Tea tins make an
elegant and eye-catching favor. Shown above is a decorative blue tin of jasmine tea,
$7, by MarieBelle New York.

As important, if not more important, is the talk at the tea. Ask each woman to bring a
tea cup and saucer - ask why they picked it. It's a way to share something significant and
it's not too personal. Fanciful, intimate, and simple to prepare, a tea party is a party like
no other.

Sources: Brides magazine, Martha Stewart and Country Living magazine

Monday, April 28, 2008

Disappearing Act: In this casual world, is formal passé?

(above: China: Lenox; Stemware: Waterford/Wedgwood; Flatware: Vera Wang; Tablecloth: Sferra, Gracious Home)

Growing up as a child, my family sat down and had dinner together every night. I had the
chore of setting the table. Typically that meant putting the allotted number of plates
in the general vicinity of my family member, taking the forks, spoons and knives out
of the drawer and plopping them down next to the plate and if I was feeling especially
gracious, folding a paper napkin and placing it near the plate. However the holidays
were all together different! Setting the table for the holidays was more like an hour-long
production that involved linen tablecloths, silver stemware, finding the right mix of
charges, plates, bowls and my mother designing a stellar centerpiece.

(above: China: Lenox; Stemware: Waterford/Wedgwood; Flatware: Vera Wang; Tablecloth: Sferra, Gracious Home)

With America's easy lifestyle so much in the forefront, has the concept of formal dining
disappeared. Has our relaxed approach signaled the demise of long-standing dining
conventions - - and a trend away from formal entertaining?

(above: China: Lesesne; Glasses: Pottery Barn; Flatware: Pottery Barn; Placemat: Gracious Home)

(above: Plate and Mug: Pottery Barn; Glasses: Pottery Barn; Flatware: Pottery Barn; Placemat: Pottery Barn)

Despite today's relaxed lifestyle, formal dining is still an important part of many
people's tradition. So as we approach Mother's Day, here are templates to help you set the
table for a casual mother's day lunch or a formal dinner.

(above: The primary difference between a formal luncheon and formal dinner setting is the increased number of glasses
for red wine and champagne).

(above: For a formal luncheon, the table is set much as for dinner with a few exceptions. The presence of an iced teaspoon and iced beverage glass announce a daytime event).

(above: A casual dinner calls for less formal china and stemware, and stainless steel flatware is fitting for the relaxed setting).

(above: For a casual lunch, feel free to use heavier dinnerware, like these simple ceramic plates. Provide glasses for whatever beverage you plan to serve).

Source: My Home Ideas, Tablesetting 101

Friday, April 25, 2008

Centerpiece of the week: Ranunculus

The ranunculus delights through sheer variety of size, form and shade, and few flowers
come in more hues than the ranunculus.

(above: This sunny bunch of large and small blooms boasts creamy white, muted yellow, pale orange, and mossy
green ranunculus; the texture comes from a mix of budded and open blossoms. White garden roses and yellow
begonias add volume, while weigela leaves complement the color scheme.)

As romantic as roses or peonies, but not nearly as commonplace, these bulb-grown blossoms
work in tight, formal arrangements or when placed in a simple, clear vase-all the better to
show off their curvy stems.

Looking for a cost-effective alternative to the rose and the peony? Try the lush, multi-
petaled ranunculus, a relative of the buttercup. You can create a striking bouquet with
a cluster of this showy, bowl-shaped flower. Ranunculuses resemble small peonies and
produce densely petaled blooms in a range of colors, including white, yellow, orange, red,
and pink; they are usually available in late winter and early spring.

Everything else about the plump and pretty bloom speaks of unbridled beauty, from its
tissue like petals that unfurl in tightly budded whorls to the breadth of colors in which it is

Image sources: Martha Stewart Wedding and Country Living Magazine

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Special Delivery!

(above: bright yellow ranunculus, gold roses, perfumed freesia, ilex berries, and clementines form the warm
foundation, while dusty-miller leaves, blue-gray succulents, and leucadendron buds add contrast and texture.
Bouquet by Ariella Chezar, from Martha Stewart magazine)

I’d like to send a bouquet of thanks to Miss Shortcake over at Weddingbee for featuring
Toast and Tables in her post entitled “Pearls and Pedals and Petticoats, Oh My!” We both
agree that one could make a truly grand entrance or exit via a bike and that your transportation
could be turned into a theme.

Your photos are the record of the laughs, tears, hugs, and toasts that are bound to take place
throughout your wedding day so selecting a photographer to document your day is possibly the
most important hire you'll make. As for me, I found my shutterbug soul mate in Jessica Claire.
I love her candid shots, she has a real talent for capturing emotional and spontaneous
moments. Isn’t that bike shot gorgeous? It’s indicative of all her work - - - crisp images,
thoughtful compositions and good lighting. Make sure you check out her photo blog, you'll
spend hours trolling her site.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

HAPPY EARTH DAY: An eco-chic tablesetting

I definitely think the green movement is more than a passing fad. Over the last year,
shelter magazines and trade publications have spent space and energy focusing on green.
It has made me think, or at least wonder about organic place mats, bambo plates and
handmade ceramics. Every day I see more and more options and ideas that are
environmentally conscious. And yes, many of the ideas are perfectly suited for a eco-chic tablesetting.

Tree trunks used as flatware holders, available at your local nurseries. The flatware is from
Michael Aram's Forest Leaf Collection. It takes its inspiration from the intricacies of
form and texture found in foliage from around the world. Natural twigs cast in place with
stamped tops, in silverplate–add a piece of the forest to your place setting.

The succulent and grass centerpiece pair nicely with the Tourron line of ceramic dinnerware
from Jars Provence Design. Jars is handcrafted in France. The company, founded in 1857, has
been a family enterprise for four generations. By combining state-of-the-art technology with
traditional craftsmanship, Jars produces vividly colored settings and serving pieces that will
brighten your table every day.

All in all, there has been a long-awaited awakening to the needs of the planet as well as to our
personal well-being. When people are given the opportunity to make a difference, I think they
will positively modify their purchasing and consumer habits. This transformation will continue
as more people realize the link that exists between purchasing environmentally conscious
products and their personal environment. Being conscious of the environment is no trend,
it's here to stay.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chinoiserie – looking east for tablesetting inspiration

We can embrace the Chinese decorating principles of feng shui and dally with Buddhist
philosophy, but empty a room of everything but a floor covering of tatami mats, and we
panic. Where do we sit? Where is the television?

One way we have found to adopt Asian style is on our dinner tables. We are gaining a sophisticated appreciation for Asian food, and lately, we have taken the tableware into our homes as well.

Blue-and-white glazes are a popular color combination in China and Japan. Ever since
Marco Polo swept through Asia, the West has been enamored of Oriental style, interpreting
its decorative motifs on everything from textiles to tableware. Here are two chinoiserie
inspired designs, to give your table Eastern allure.

The Asian influence has been reinterpreted for contemporary day by Tiffany with their
Cirque Chinoise dinnerware. Tiffany Private Stock hand-painted limoges porcelain.

Set a classic table with this intricately patterned blue and white stoneware. Asian Toile
dinnerware by Horchow.

Asia continues to impact tableware designs, although it is yin in some and yang in others.
There is a Chinese menu of styles, ranging from traditional to new-age. Americans continue
to express an appreciation for Eastern culture and these two chinoiserie patterns puts a
fresh spin on the centuries-old look.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wedding bike theme: It could lead to a wheely long marriage!

(above: Cycle pattern, Slant)

Horse drawn carriages offer a grand entrance to a wedding. However, they are rarely
an option to get you to and from the other places you need to go. A limousine adds a
classy touch. It does relieve you from any driving issues you may have if perhaps things
get wild and crazy during the festivities; however one of the most interesting exits I've
heard about was the bride and groom exiting on a bicycle. So why not turn your exit
transportation into a theme.

(above: invitation, Greenwich Letterpress)

From the table setting and the invitations to the transportation, theme weddings are
becoming increasing popular. With the green trend going so strong every day we see
more and more options and ideas that are are environmentally and socially conscious,
ideas with style and integrity. Depending on your site, you can make a truly grand
exit via a bike.

So rather than jumping into a limo after your reception, take off on a bike. Capitalize on
that magic by attaching old-fashioned wedding bells, streamers and of course, a "Just
Married" sign to the bike basket.

(above: Channel bicycle, for more information, 800/937-9146)

Cycle off in style with the new Chanel bicycle. Not exactly created for mountain treks,
this luxurious two-wheeler adds an adventurous element to the iconic fashion house.
With a quilted leather saddle, handlebars, pump and chain guard (so as to not snag
your bridal gown), as well as three quilted bags, you'll be well-equipped to pedal with

Planning around a central idea - whether you choose a common interest, a shared hobby
or your transportation exit - personalizes the event and adds cohesiveness to your day.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Branching out with cool coral

This endangered treasure of the world's oceans finds its way into handsome interpretations
for the table. And for Spring it's the color du jour!

(above: An Alberto Pinto creation for Raynaud, Cristobal dinnerware, available at Gracious Style)

Not quite pink, not quite orange, not quite red, some things can only be described as coral.
Coral can be found in the wild in many colors, but the most precious, prized for its alluring
color, is the coral-colored variety. Its unique sculptural form is as enticing as its color,
inspiring decorative motifs on everything from placemats to napkin rings.

(above: red coral placemats, Kim Seybert, Gracious Style)

Dress up your table with coral like with these tree branch shaped centerpiece scultures
in white. You haven't seen underwater action like this since you last went scuba diving.

Stylized coral patterns are at once exotic and sophisticated, endowing a spirit of wit and
fun. Perk up any setting with an unexpected accent of coral (a little goes a long way)!
Stylized and exotic, coral lends itself to artistic, sophisticated reinterpretations in every
aspect of the home. Whether it's presented in a vibrant eponymous hue or sun-bleached
to pale white, the overall effect is simply striking.

(above: Cristobal Turquoise by Raynaud available at Bloomingdales)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Design LiFE! Nicole Sassaman’s table setting

Celebrity designer Nicole Sassaman has been featured on The STYLE Network’s "Area",
Fine Living’s “Lulu’s House” and HGTV’s “Designer’s Challenger”. She has a fresh, sassy
approach to design and has a keen eye for redesigning spaces that are beautiful and functional.

Nicole’s signature style shines through when she teamed up with Viking to create the table
setting at DIFFA”s Dining by Design. Using tableware from West Elm she incorporates
creativity, practicality and timelessness to create a sophisticated but accessible design.

West Elm is known for creating trendy, modern tableware with sleek lines, fresh colors and
exotic foreign nuances. I love the use of the aluminum and white square dinnerware. Nicole's
serene table design appeals to those who gravitate toward calming, neutral spaces or to those
with more modern tendencies -- people who like to live with subtle neutrals and fewer objects
cluttering their lives would love Nicole Sassaman’s style.

I’ve just ordered Nicole’s new book “Design Life”. Nicole knows how to create rooms that
are beautiful and functional, so, whether I’m decorating my kitchen or putting plates on my
table, I’m sure I can use this book to obtain decorating ideas.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Centerpiece of the week: Vitamin See

For a dose of healthy sunshine first thing in the morning, look to this
orange monochromatic centerpiece.

This composition combines femma roses, ranunculus, orange chincherinchee,
hypernicum berries, three different types of geranium foliage, red rose
hips, Mandarin oranges and nectarines in an antique copper bucket.

For more tips on how to decorate your tablesetting with oranges. Check out
my earlier post this week entitled: Orange Spruce!

Source: Simply Elegant Flowers with Michael George

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Party in the Garden

As a New Yorker I have willingly sacrificed lawns and an open horizon line, living
and working in a concrete jungle makes the prospect of having a garden party all the
more tantalizing. An outdoor get-together is the perfect way to celebrate a graduation,
birth, or upcoming wedding. Everyone will welcome the sweet smell of new grass and
the cheerful busts of color beginning to emerge in the garden.

Here are 5 easy tips that will allow you to skip into spring with a carefree party that
invites everyone to gather together to enjoy the outdoors.

#1: Let your dining room chairs make an appearance alfresco. Add some slipcovers for a
splash of color.

#2: I love the concept of mix and matching. Combine antique china, ancestral silver, mismatched
glasses and contemporary chargers.

#3: In addition to hurricane lamps and votive candles, garden-themed Staffordshire figures
and miniature garden implements further enlivened the tabletops.

#4: Assemble a luxuriant bouquet on the buffet table. This centerpiece is a profusion of
forced white lilies, hosta leaves, and branches of variegated red-berried elder filled a large
antique urn atop the buffet table.

#5: Green glass complements the leafy hues of the surrounding garden. Place cards might
not seem necessary when guests are close friends and family, but they ensure that everyone
mixes, which always makes things livelier.

When butterflies and spring blossoms appear, consider taking the party outside.

Source: Southern Accents

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Orange Spruce! Using oranges in your tablesetting

With its golden color and refreshing flavor it's a perfect springtime
companion to your place setting. Like a cold glass of juice, oranges are a great way to
bring a dose of this uplifting color to your tablesetting without a major investment.

This spring, there is news to report on the color of tangerines and kumquats. Just as
orange is turning up in hip home furnishings, centerpieces are showing up in bold
orange too.

The mood and attitude of orange is friendlier than fiery, more welcoming than seductive.
For a dose of healthy sunshine on the table, look to this bright arrangement.

Orange, the color of the citrus fruit, is not for the timid. It's strident, highly visible, in
your face. Orange screams, ``Here I am!"

Put your fresh sense of style on the table and juice up your table decor with this
cheery hue.

images from: Brides, Hostess with the Mostess, Martha Stewart and Michelle Rago.