Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Listen my children ...

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere ...

What does "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow have to do with setting a festive table? In addition to being the man who sounded the alarm "to every Middlesex village and farm," Mr. Revere was a skilled silversmith.

Paul Revere is seen below in a 1768 portrait by John Singleton Copley.

He created the Liberty Bowl which, along with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, have been called the United States of America's three most cherished historical treasures. This silver bowl documents a revolutionary act in the American colonies. Engraved on its rim are the names of fifteen members of a secret organization in colonial Boston called the "Sons of Liberty." This group existed during the time when ferment against British rule was building towards war. The bowl commemorates the refusal of the Massachusetts legislature to take back a protest against a British tax.

The bowl was purchased for $52,500 by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, in 1949, with funds that included seven hundred donations by Boston schoolchildren and the public.

The bowl was used at covert meetings of the Sons of Liberty, whose members included Revere and other Whigs, for toasting with rum punch. Since it was engraved with patriotic slogans along with the names of its joint owners, it was considered a treasonous object and therefore was kept well hidden between meetings.

There's only one Liberty Bowl, of course, but its classic shape and proportions have been reproduced countless times by a variety of manufacturers. The pieces are usually referred to as "Revere bowls," whether made of sterling, silverplate, brass, pewter, or porcelain.

I've been collecting Revere bowls (mostly silverplated ones) for a few years now. I used five of them as containers for the flowers on today's table. They're also wonderful for serving/displaying fruit, potpourri, decorative objects, etc.

I wanted the flowers to be the focus of attention, reflecting the coming of spring.

I've kept the tablecloth, china, flatware, and stemware fairly neutral and simple in design.

The three center bowls are slightly larger than the ones on the ends. I had vintage glass flower frogs that fit the three larger bowls. I used those to hold the flowers in place. For each of the two smaller bowls, I submerged a heavy oasis-filled ironstone mug. The wet floral foam held most of the stems in place, and I added filler flowers around the edges.

At each place setting, as a reminder that Easter's on its way, I placed a vintage glass salt cellar filled with pastel-toned eggs (jelly beans from Dollar Tree). I decided it looked better not to include the blue ones, so I carefully removed those ... and ate them.

Cream pitchers can do double duty. They work well for serving dressing for the salads.

To further the "focus on flowers" theme, pale pink napkin "roses" are nestled in green restaurant napkins and displayed in the water glasses.

I hoped the informal floral arrangements would create a feeling of abundance and exuberance. Most of the flowers, shrubs, and flowering tree cuttings came from the garden. Those include tulips, hellebores, red-tipped photinia, dogwood, and redbud. A (reduced) bouquet from Kroger provided the mums and alstromeria.

Here are a few other Revere bowls I've collected. You can purchase new ones in the $50 to $150 range, but I prefer buying them at estate sales and thrift stores for as little as $1. I paid $5 for the one with the colorful liner. It's great for serving acidic things like fruit salads and garden salads containing eggs, tomatoes, etc. (which would quickly tarnish and possibly damage the silver plating).

I placed an assortment of small silverplated bon bon dishes on the bar. Compare the ornate designs of the Art Nouveau pieces with the sleek, curvilinear shapes of the mid-20th century modern bowls. Through every change in popular design trends, the classic lines of the Revere bowl have remained elegant in their simplicity. It's easy to see why its popularity has endured for over two hundred years.

The Jamestown flatware pattern was introduced in 1916 by Holmes & Edwards, a division of the International Silver Company. Their advertising slogans "More than Plate", and "Protected where the wear comes" referred to their plating process in which an extra thickness of silver was added to the areas that wear the most on silverware. Many of these pieces are still in excellent condition today, almost 100 years later.

If you think you'd like to try your hand at creating a rosebud napkin fold, there's a step-by-step video demonstrating how it's done at Click on "web extras" and select "step-by-step video of ET napkin fold."

The tall, hand-dipped candles were new-in-the-package at Goodwill.

Looking through the sunroom and across the deck, you can see the redbud tree that contributed to the floral arrangements.

I placed a Paul Revere water pitcher on each end of the table (one filled with tea). You can order a new one here: The new ones are beautiful, but I think I prefer the look (and certainly the price) of the ones that display the time-worn patina of years of service to their owners.

I put the leftover supermarket flowers in a vase (actually a heavy drinking glass) and added them to the vignette on the bar.

Another view:

Time to light the candles ... 7 of the glass tealight holders came from an estate sale. I found the 8th one just the other day at Goodwill.

I used vintage Fostoria single-light candleholders -- two each of two different patterns.

This one is Holly (1942-80):

Baroque (1937-58):

The stemware is Fostoria's Puritan (1957-71).

The china is Trudy by Noritake (1971-86). It was my first set of formal china and remains one of my favorites.

Even though spring has almost sprung, evenings are still cool in West Tennessee. The fireplace provides ambience and adds a cozy warmth.

I hope you've enjoyed your visit today. Please join Susan of Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursdays:

Monday, March 7, 2011


One commonly accepted derivation of the word "carnival" (or carnivale) is the Latin "carne vale" or "farewell to meat." Carnival was the final hurrah as winter headed towards spring, and the long Lenten season of fasting and abstinence. It was, perhaps, not only a last chance to indulge the passions of the flesh, but an opportunity to consume any meat which had been put up for winter that might not stay fresh enough for consumption until spring brought the end of Lent and Easter. For more about Carnevale traditions and history, go HERE

I'm reminded of "Endanger it, and the Demand," a poem by Emily Dickinson:

Endanger it, and the Demand
Of tickets for a sigh
Amazes the Humility
Of Credibility --

Recover it to Nature
And that dejected Fleet
Find Consternation's Carnival
Divested of its Meat.

Since that most original of American 19th century poets expressed herself so often in similes and metaphors, I don't know whether the poem actually had a literal connection to Lent or Mardi Gras.

I was thinking of masks and of the magic of Venetian Carnivale as I set this table for two today.

Another poem by Emily Dickinson will accompany the images:

Those fair -- fictitious People

Those fair -- fictitious People --
The Women -- plucked away

From our familiar Lifetime --
The Men of Ivory --

Those Boys and Girls, in Canvas --

Who stay upon the Wall

In Everlasting Keepsake --

Can Anybody tell?

We trust -- in places perfecter --

Inheriting Delight

Beyond our faint Conjecture --

Remembering ourselves, we trust --

Yet Blesseder -- than We --

Through Knowing -- where We only hope --

Receiving -- where we -- pray --

Of Expectation -- also --

Anticipating us

With transport, that would be a pain

Except for Holiness --

Esteeming us -- as Exile --

Themself -- admitted Home --

Through easy Miracle of Death --
The Way ourself, must come –

Please join Susan of
Between Naps on the Porch this week (and every week) for Tablescape Thursday.

China - Haviland, Ladore
Crystal - Tiffin, Cherokee Rose
Flatware - Gorham, La Scala
Napkin rings - Gorham
Centerpiece - Christmas ornaments in bowl from Hobby Lobby
Platter - MacKenzie-Childs, Courtley Check
Table linens - custom
Iron easel - custom (made by my brother)
Masks, coasters, chairs - thrifted
Glass-topped table - from the deck (lit by a spotlight on bracket that normally holds a flower pot)
Charcoal drawing and pastel painting by my friend, Yvonne. Did you recognize the subject?

Thank you for stopping by today!

One of my favorite bloggers, Terri from Calgary, Canada, just gave me a sweet, thoughtful mention. Stop by HERE and read about our little shopping (dishy) "collaboration!"