Monday, February 13, 2012

A Valentine's Table: Roses, Romance & Peacocks!

When it's time to set a table for a Valentine's Day dinner party, certain obvious symbols come to mind: hearts, flowers, candy, cards ...

Since this is a table for eight, rather than an intimate setting for two, I took a slightly different approach. There had to be flowers, of course -- preferably roses, the quintessential choice for Valentine's Day.

There are flowers on the vintage Theodore Haviland china, a recent local estate sale find (reduced on the final day of the sale to only $50 for eight place settings, including cups and saucers, creamer & sugar, platter, and vegetable bowl). The gold-colored glass chargers (a Goodwill purchase) visually separate the china from the cotton lace placemats and add "weight" to offset the tall centerpiece.

The stemware is one of my favorite patterns, "Marquis" by Towle. These are actually water glasses, but they work well for wine. Since they're larger, they don't have to be refilled as often during dinner.

So far, I've mentioned flowers and lace. Peacock feathers could be seen as another romantic symbol, at least for peafowl! The males display their colorful, iridescent "trains," during courtship rituals, lifting and fanning them out in an attempt to attract a harem. I found these in the floral department of a local Kroger supermarket (only $8.99 per dozen, and I can re-use them for future projects).

Rather than covering the table with a cloth, I decided it might be more interesting to drape a soft, cotton lace tablecloth down the center of the table as a runner. I ended up using three vintage Quaker Lace cloths, letting them "flow" down the center of the table, spilling off the ends of opposite diagonal corners.

The flowers are in a clear, crisp-edged, lucite container (actually a wine cooler, but it does double duty as a vase). The peacock plumes are in vintage Fostoria "American" footed vases. The pattern was intoduced in 1915, but I think of it as a modern design, with its sparkling, cubist motif.

I thought of using elegant silver candelebra, but went with two very different pairs of thrifted candleholders instead. Mixing patterns, styles, and colors in unexpected ways can be challenging, but the results (I think) can be vastly more interesting.

It's mid-afternoon, and the sun is beginning to flow into the room ...

Causing the Fostoria vases to take on a diamond-like effect ....

Two days before Valentine's, I certainly didn't expect to find fresh, long-stemmed roses at a bargain price. However ... these were at Dollar Tree. So, yes, only $1 per stem!

I love the dramatic shadows late afternoon sunlight creates, don't you?

Estate sales provided the napkins and napkin rings. I found 4 each of the napkin rings (new in their boxes) at two separate sales.

I use these tealight holders frequently. They're lead crystal, but quite inexpensive and easy to find at thrift stores.

Below, the sun "projects" the color of the faux wine. The candles are made by Patrician, and the color is "quince."

I added a few feathers to the bouquet of roses to visually connect the flowers to the vases of plumes on either side. I used curly sticks in all three containers. I'm sure they have a name, but I'm not sure what it is.

A few more afternoon shots -- different heights and various views:

I've never seen roses and feathers combined before, but I think I like the look. Why not challenge ourselves and do the unexpected, right?

Time to, yes, light the candles!

And have a fire to make things nice and cozy ...

I wasn't trying, but a couple of the shots were borderline "blue hour" images.

I hope you've enjoyed your visit.

And I hope that you and your loved ones have a very happy Valentine's Day!

Until next time.

Please join Susan of
Between Naps on the Porch this week and every week for Tablescape Thursdays!

I also accepted the kind invitation of Beverly of How Sweet the Sound to participate in Pink Saturday this week. Thank you, Beverly!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday Table for Eight! Minus Four?

Hi Everyone,

Thank you for your visits and, to so many of my favorite blogging friends, for the thoughtful comments you left for me last week.

As promised, here's a look at the table I set for a holiday dinner party. I used Lenox Holiday salad plates. The dinner plates are Lenox Hayworth. The glass chargers are a Goodwill find.

I starched and ironed the hemstitched linen napkins and added a simple, silvery napkin ring.

Gorham La Scala flatware.

The fireplace adds cozy warmth.

An overview showing the mantel decorated with greenery and clear lights. I lit the candles, but only for a moment. I need to make some changes now....

The "tablescape" table is set for 8, but there will only be 4 for dinner.

The first order of business is pouring out the faux (colored water) wine, rinsing, and drying the glasses. They're Fostoria Holly (1942-80), one of my favorite stemware patterns. The stylized laurel band is a combination of etching and cutting and, while I use them throughout the year, the holly motif seems particularly appropriate for the holiday season.

Simple quilted placemats allow the wood of the tabletop to remain visible, while adding softness and cushioning (and quieting movements of) the plates and silverware. I replaced the napkins with green restaurant-style ones in a "wash and wear" cotton blend.

As I mentioned in the last post, the centerpiece consists of a pine cone wreath, magnolia cuttings, and a thrifted glass candleholder.

A closer view of the plates, charger, and placemat.

Afternoon sun illuminates the quick-and-easy centerpiece ...

Almost time for guests to arrive ... salad's chilled and ready ...

Holly champagne/tall sherbets make attractive stemmed tealight holders. I filled the glasses first with rock salt to protect them from heat and provide the look of wintry crystals. I removed the candles from their metal cups for a cleaner look. After dinner, I lifted out the melted candles, leaving most of the salt ready to be used again.

I hope you enjoyed your visit. Here's wishing you all a very Happy New Year!!!

Please visit Susan of Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursdays. She and her talented guests always provide warm hospitality and great creative inspiration!

Friday, December 23, 2011

'Tis the night before Christmas Eve!

'Tis the night before Christmas Eve! And it's been a long time since I've done a new post. I thought of putting the blog to bed and saying it's been a good run, but I think I'd miss blogging. I know I'd miss the sweet friends I've made in Blogland. I appreciate all of you more than you know.

After a busy day of cooking, wrapping gifts, and dropping off food and flowers for neighbors and friends, I decided to share a few pictures of this year's Christmas decorations. There's so little that's different from last year's efforts that I almost crossed it off my "to do" list (by that I mean posting about it -- not the decorating itself!). If you've visited Affordable Accoutrements before, you know I love entertaining family and friends.

I'm glad you're here! It's a gloomy day, and it's been raining. But it's warm inside -- come on in, OK?

I made a magnolia wreath for the front door again, using leaves from a neighbor's tree (some of the branches extend over the back fence, so no trespassing was required!). It took about thirty minutes to hot glue the leaves to an inexpensive (old and battered) artificial greenery wreath. Maybe next year, I'll do a more painstaking job. But probably not. Perfection can be boring, don't you think?

So far the ferns flanking the door don't seem to realize it's December in Tennessee! They're somewhat protected by the porch and seem to enjoy the cooler temperatures and indirect morning sun ...

The garland on the staircase is artificial, but I inserted greenery clippings here and there to create a more realistic illusion. The clippings were free at Lowe's! I attached the garland to the railing with plastic-coated wire and covered the wire with drapery tie-backs with tassels.

If you look closely, it's easy to see that it's not real, but at a glance (particularly in the evening when the lighting is softer), I think the overall effect can be appealing.

The mantel in the sitting room received a similar treatment ...

Candles always enhance the mood, and mirrors can be an asset in maximizing the effect (as they were in the days before electrical lighting).

Even on days when the dining room's not being used for serving meals to guests, a centerpiece flanked by candles warms and softens the space ...

The double-light candleholders are vintage Fostoria in the Holly pattern. The tall single ones were a Goodwill find.

I wired some inexpensive glittered ornaments to the garland in the den to create extra sparkle.

This year's tree is a much smaller one than the one from 2011. It goes up faster and requires far fewer decorations. It also interferes less with traffic flow in the room.

My favorite new/old ornaments are the mid-century blown glass teardrop ones. They were still in their original box from Sears. I think I paid $1 for 5.

I noticed a few bare spots on the tree after I'd put away the decorations. Drapery tie-backs to the rescue again! I love repurposing, don't you?

What to do with the pine cone wreath that had been on the front door ... how to use the leftover magnolia leaves ...

A thrifted glass candleholder in the middle and VoilĂ  -- instant centerpiece!

Would you like to see the rest of the table? ;)

Come back next week, and I'll try to have two versions for you to see: a fantasy table for 8 and the scaled-back version of the real dinner party for 4.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!