Secret Garden Chair

Happy spring planting! It’s Mothers’ Day and time to plant in my neck of the woods.

Another beautiful photo from Facebook — I’ve done this chair planter trick before, but wanted to capture the gorgeous mix of flowers used in this piece of art. I’m thinking that’s a wire “pot” filled with soil that goes all the way to the ground, which makes a lot of sense. Now all I need is an old chair — tomorrow morning is garbage day and I may just have to go a-picking.

Enjoy your weekend!

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Friday with Friends: A Textural Tablescape

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It all started when I spied these adorable little cafe chair napkin rings at Pier One. I knew I had to have them in my collection. The pink and cream loosely woven napkins seemed right for the textural tablescape, so I started with those as a color theme.

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Then, knowing the IRONY in buying a burlap-wrapped vase with French script writing on it, I decided to build a Frenchy centerpiece for my table that would look pretty while my house-sitter was living at my house, but which would not require any maintenance.

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I popped fake flowers into the vase, got out my flameless pillar candles and some woven decorative ornaments, and put it all on a wooden platter. I had a centerpiece.

When we got home from France, I replaced the fake flowers with some pink roses from the grocery store. They didn’t hold up very well, and quickly began to droop. I liked the blowsy, fading glory look of the centerpiece better that way.

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We were eager to see our neighbors across the street after our trip, so I invited them over for dinner and a little music-making. We are all working on Godspell at my church and wanted to play through some arrangements Music Man has done for the pit band. Thank goodness, my friends don’t get excited when I get out my “stuff” and the men are quite self-actualized and don’t get offended by a pink-themed table. 🙂

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We began with a little champagne. I have a large collection of wine charms, some of which are store-bought and some my friend and I made by choosing very specific charms relevant to our lives. Needless to say, I usually take the saxophone charm. I like the juxtaposition of the two stages of polish on the silver against the shiny brass of the wine charm and the sparkling champagne flute.

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I started with the round woven “straw” placements I got at Tuesday Morning. I kept shopping until I found three packages of four placemats. I almost always buy twelve linens just in case.

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I have eight of these majolica-style Italian plates that I bought many years ago at a home store. I picked the strawberries, cherries, and apples for this table as the fruit has pink coloring. There are also plums, grapes, and pears in the set.

IMG_9249 BCombined with my trusty Pfalzgraff Filigree plates, the Fostoria salt and peppers, the Gorham Chantilly silver, Anchor Hocking tumblers, and Crystal d’Arques Longchamp wine glasses, I had a tablescape.

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We finished our meal with fruit, cookies, and candies brought by our friends and served on Fostoria plates and my favorite fruit compotes (really shrimp cocktail bases!). It was a wonderful way to spend an evening winding down after the stresses of the week — and recovering from jet lag.

For the recipes for this meal, check out my other blog, Got My Reservations. The Slow-Cooker Lasagna is definitely a keeper!

I’m linked up today at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday. Check out the creative and beautiful tablescape designs!

What Makes You Think That Is French? — Part Deux

The verdict is in.

Many of you commented on my challenge regarding Americanized “French style” and I appreciate your participation!

Fourteen days in France and only one chippy piece of furniture.

The "chippy" table in the Chateau de Roussan.

The “chippy” table in the Chateau de Roussan.

This piece was in the hallway in one of the most elegant and beautiful hotels I have stayed in.

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We arrived in the late afternoon and were losing the sun.

We arrived in the late afternoon and were losing the sun.

The Château de Roussan is a hotel and restaurant just outside of Saint Remy de Provence, dating from the XIII century. Its storied inhabitants include Nostradamus’s family and Diane de Joannis de Roussan who is reputed to have been a favorite of Louis XIV.

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Our room was spacious and charming.

IMG_7998 IMG_8002With a beautiful, modern bathroom (sorry these are out of focus, but I wanted to include them).

IMG_7991 IMG_7990 IMG_7992The public spaces were very grand.

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We also had an eight course dinner in the dining room that was prearranged by our tour guide, Philip Haslet of Unique Provence Travel. More on that another day, but it was amazing!

If you ever get a chance to stay at the Chateau de Roussan, I highly recommend it.

What Makes You Think That Is French?

I’m going to Provence and Paris soon.

We’re scheduled to go to this flower market. Beautiful.

One of the things that I’m going to be looking for is whether or not or not our Americanized vision of shabby chic French is actually something French people do in their decorating.

I’m not so sure.

I’ve only been to France once, and I’ve only been to Paris and Normandy. I’ve seen beautiful cotton lace, I’ve seen lovely textiles, and I’ve seen well-worn finishes on furniture. I’ve also seen classically elegant rooms like this one.

What I’m not sure about is all of the things I see on American blogs using layered laces and trims, chippy paint, and white, white, white. I’m pretty sure that there is more to French decorating than that.

I feel as though I’m going out on a very thin limb here, and maybe I’ll fall off with a big thud. Or maybe not.

I’m eager to find out what people are buying in Provence and Paris and I hope to post photos for you to see.

Or do we care?

My mother-in-law did, and as a result, my house is full of beautiful Provencal furniture and dishes from France. And none of them is painted white or is chippy.

I can’t wait to find out. That is one of the reasons for travel — to find out what one does not know.

Are you with me on this?

Happy Easter!

I’m thinking of my parents this morning — they created many special Easters for my brothers and me.

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I’m pretty sure that my mom made that beautiful dress for me, too.

But it wasn’t Easter without going to church and singing Christ the Lord is Risen Today. In our family, Jesus was the reason for the season, even if we did love the pagan trappings of the Easter Bunny.

Here’s a blast from my past that has been part of my Easter celebrations for almost all of my life. It’s also not Easter if Peter Cottontail’s song isn’t cranked out of my treasured Easter music box.

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IMG_7479Sometimes an oldie is still a goodie — when it comes to our religious celebrations as well as our secular ones. Enjoy your day — whatever you are celebrating.

St. Patrick’s Day and Spring Bonanza

Nothing says St. Patrick’s Day like a touch of green, right?

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So nothing says St. Patrick’s Day better than 32 touches of green. That’s what I’m telling myself.

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We were having about 20 people over for book club and I wanted to table to just “whisper” St. Pat’s and not scream it. We’re not Irish and don’t really get into the celebrations here in Chicago, but there’s something to be said for a city that takes its melting pot of heritages seriously.

When I found these beautiful napkins at Tuesday Morning, I was thrilled — but there were only two packages of eight. Not enough for my party. I didn’t buy them, but the next day I found myself still wanting them. I buzzed out to the other Tuesday Morning a little farther from my house and they had two sets also. They also had some other wonderful beauties, but that’s a story for another day. I grabbed the two sets, scurried back to the original TM, praying that the other sets were still there, and found my holy grail of napkins. Thirty-two gorgeous green napkins for book club and parties beyond.

Of course there’s always a little fly in the ointment. After laundering, they needed to be pressed, but there’s something soothing about the rhythm of spraying and pressing linens.

P. S. If you were wondering why I’ve been slow to post over the last couple of weeks, I’ve taken on the responsibility of producing a musical at my church. It’s gonna be pretty time-consuming if the last weeks are any indicator. On the other hand, doing my tablescaping and taking the photos is a welcome escape.

P.P.S. For a view of some amazing St. Patrick’s Day decorating, click here to visit Cuisine Kathleen’s St. Patrick’s Day Blog Crawl.