...family, friends, home and other tidbits of a blessed life

Friday, December 26, 2014

Dinner with Friends 2014, a Christmas dinner party

Dinner with Friends

Is there anything better (well other than anything that involves children and grandchildren)? 
This years menu:

Spinach Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Cardamom Spiced Pork Loin
Burgundy Cardamom sauce
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Green Beans and Shitake Mushrooms
Mocha Ice Cream pie

 The place setting: Zrike
red charger, Lenox Holiday Tartan dinner plate, a vintage pressed glass salad plate in a glorious shade of red, gold flatware, red napkin from Pier One that is edged in gold ruffles, the usual crystal and a showy napkin ring.

I had seen this on the Frongate site. Loved it. Tried to capture the feeling of this. I am truly a Kim Seybert fan and although her designs are pricey, I figured I could recreate her gorgeous napkin rings. I think I succeeded.

Mikasa Parklane water and a yet unknown wine. Loved the gold rim, an ebay find.

Knowing that I was going to use the Frontgate picture as a theme, I added gold trees and candleholders to the Christmas warehouse (aka garage).

The floral centerpiece was a gift from one of the dinner guests.

Tulips and stock (the white stuff). It was perfect for the table.

Found the small red votives this year. Having candlelight on many levels adds to the ambiance of the evening. Do you see the beautiful pattern?

Simple decorations in the chandelier were just what the table needed. Bows, greenery and red glass ornaments.

Found these mercury glass trees at Dillard's last year. They are battery powered and light up, adding one more layer of light to the table.

I'm already planning next year's event. Collecting new pieces has begun and a theme has been set. This makes getting ready for the event so much easier!

I'm hoping that you had a wonderful Christmas surrounded by loved ones and that the year ahead is filled with many blessings, good health and much cheer.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A 2014 update

It's been a long, long time since I last posted. It hasn't even been that busy a year. Time just got away from me and I lost my blog voice. I'm back and I'll certainly post more frequently. Although, I won't  be joining blog parties. Working full time, being a discussion group leader for our evening Bible Study Fellowship class, family, friends and our yard just don't allow for that much time on a computer. Besides, I spend my days computing, so it's nice to keep the nights "off-line".

In February we took a trip to Ruidoso, NM. Mr. CJ won an all expense paid trip to stay at the Inn of the Mountain Gods from his employer way back when. So we decided a quick weekend away was in order. Perfect for our 40th Valentine's Day together. We are such saps!! LOL. 

Although not the most elaborately put together table I've ever done, the guest of honor was beside herself with glee. Our precious middle granddaughter Zoë has always loved the color purple. Shamefully this grandmother had no purple dishes, glasses, linens. Nary one stitch of purple was to be found in this house. So what was she to do? Ebay! Sweet Cherry Kay from Entertaining Women blog pointed me in the right direction. Copeland Spode Mayflower came home in droves. I only had 2 weeks to pull this off. You would be surprised how many dishes you can buy and have them all arrive in time. Dinner plates, salad/dessert plates, bread and butter plates. Now to find some bowls and serving pieces. Zoë has her first set of dishes! She's also be getting the Old Company Plate Signature silverplate. It goes so perfectly with the dishes.  When I told Zoe that these were hers, she was really overjoyed. Surprised even me. However, since she's entering first grade next year, I still have many years to enjoy these.

For the centerpiece, I pulled out a white Hutschenreuter tureen, filled it with purple petunias still in their plastic pots, stuffed a bit of purple crinkle filler grass around the edges and had a centerpiece done in minutes. Later Zoë got to take the plants home and plant them in her yard.

April. I never tire of Wisteria. It's always a big joy to find the first glint of purple showing from the vines. 

By the end of the month, the vines are covered in green and the planting, mulching, pruning, has begun in the yard. I had an abundance of tulips that bloomed this year. Not so many last year. Wonder what made the difference.

May usually brings on the first summer event. It's still cool enough to enjoy being outdoors. By June we are usually roasting! Even in the evenings. I set a simple table for our annual wine and cheese party. White runner, jars for vases, black flatware, black napkins encased in a wine cork napkin ring. Two wine bottles were filled with citronella oil and a bottle wick. I found the bottle wicks on amazon.

After filling your empty bottle with citronella oil, drop the topper with attached wick into the bottle and allow the oil to saturate the wick. The large "sleeves" came from Pottery Barn a couple of years ago.

The napkin rings were a breeze to make. I got into our "stash" of corks and pulled about 30 of them. I had seen them done somehere where they had drilled a hole right through the cork. Telling Mr. CJ I needed a drill press for a dinner party got a. very. strange. look. So I found some tiny eyelets and screwed one into each cork end. Then I looped a length of twine through the eyelet and tied the corks onto the napkins. Seriously, 5 dollars for eyelets, had the twine and corks, and about 90 minutes.

 We are still enjoying the candle holders on the fence. They are magical at night. Like fairy lights twinkling.

Of course we count it a blessing when our friends enjoy themselves at our home. 
We've got another dinner party planned for next weekend. We are getting some very much needed rain in Lubbock right now (day two of the sky falling) so all last minute stuff will really be last minute! 

I'll leave you with what looks like a January sun rise. A beautiful sky.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Bit Of New Year's Glitz and Glamour tablescape

It's certainly been a while since I posted a table! Today I thought I'd share the one at which we celebrated the New Year, ate our black-eyed peas, and were filled with gratitude for all of God's blessings.

It was a year of silver and white. Glitz and Glam. China and Crystal. Fine linen. 

There would be no children at this table. They had much more fun at a table of their own complete with toys, candy and no one telling them what to do.

 We had just celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary, so I really wanted to use our wedding china. I still love it as much as when I picked it out. 

The motif may not be as current right now, but it certainly satisfies the girly part of me with it's intricate pale gray scrolls and touches of white on the bone china.

The centerpiece. Greenery filled with silver orbs. Christmas balls attached to the flower brick that holds the fir branches.

 These balls never see the light of day unless I am doing a silver table. Silly I know.

I've got a really good tip to share. I wanted some fresh greenery for the table.
Called my friend the wholesale florist. Of course they had none. It was after Christmas.
His tip: Go buy a tree! Wasn't sure if anyone would still have on the 31st of December. 
I was wrong. Lowe's Home Improvement. $3.00 and that included the stand. And still so fresh!

I love how light bounces off the crystal. I really should use it more often.

Besides the candles in the centerpiece, I added a pair of silver candlesticks, one on each end.

After all the color of the Christmas season, it's refreshing to see a cleaner, more simplified palette.

The handkerchief linen tablecloth is very fine and light. With the openings, I chose not to use a table pad. 

I do love our New Year's dinner! The menu has remained consistent from my husband's grandmother, to my sweet mother in law and now I carry on the tradition. I do really look forward to it.

Thanks for coming by. Hope you enjoyed your visit.
I wish you joy and happiness in the year ahead.

Linen tablecloth - estate sale
Silver chargers - various trays found at estate sales
Silver flatware - Signature by Old Company Plate
China - Lenox Snow Lily
Crystal water - Mikasa Parklane
Crystal Champagne - Waterford Colleen Encore
Silver Candlesticks - Gorham Chantilly
Napkins - Linen

I hope to be joining  Susan's Tablescape Thursday for her delightful and entertaining tablescaping party on  Thursday. See you there!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Easy Embroidery - How to Embroider Napkins

I want to share with you a quick and easy way to embroider napkins.

Let me preface by saying that I've had 20 or so years of embroidery experience. Wow, it's really been that long! I've learned the "correct" way to embroider, which stabilizer to use, which needles, which threads, for so many instances. Over the years, I've also learned which shortcuts I can take.

This is the way I embroider napkins, and many will say it's totally wrong, but it works for me, so give it a try, you might you like it, too. You'll notice I don't "hoop" the napkin. For me, I can get as good a result using this technique and I find it much easier than hooping the napkin, especially when some of the napkin won't be in the hoop anyway or even reach the hoop in others. Practice with this technique and you might just see that it will work for you! ;-)

  1. Open the embroidery design in embroidery software.
  2. Add a monogram if desired, shown in sample.
  3. Print two copies of the design in actual size, with center marks, and with the hoop printed.
  4. Tape one copy of the design template to your work table. 

Tip: I like to tape the design to a cutting mat so that I can align the design (and later hoop with the grid lines)

  1. Cut the second printed template around the embroidery motif as shown above. No need to be exact.
  2. Pierce the center of the design with an awl, this will keep the marking pen from making the hole larger with each time you mark a napkin.
  3. Place the  cut out design into position in the corner of an ironed napkin.
  4. Use a ruler to keep the center guide lines equally aligned to both sides of the corner.
  5. Mark the center of the design with a water soluble marking pen made for fabric.

Tip: I never, ever use a purple air soluble marker. I have had the spot remain on colored linen. I prefer to use the blue water-soluble marker, always.

Fold the napkin back with the center mark as a guide, as to how much and keep the finished edges aligned, seen bottom right of the above image.

Note how the fold is through the blue water soluble mark.

For this technique, I use a Heat Away Clear Film stabilizer. It literally melts at the touch of an iron. This way there is no remaining stabilizer on the back side of your napkin. Another option is to use a water soluble Mesh Rinse Away. If using the Mesh stabilizer, then darken the cross hairs of your printed design.

  • Hoop the stabilizer very taut.
  • Place the hoop on the taped down design template, following the hoop layout. 
  • Align the hoop carefully as this will have a direct impact on the outcome of your design. 
  • Double check that the hoop center markings are properly aligned with both the cutting mat and the paper template.

Tip: If you are embroidering satin letters that have a wide satin stitch, Heat Away Clear Film might not be the best stabilizer for that type of embroidery. Always, always do a test stitch out first.

  • Spray the hoop area with a temporary spray adhesive. I now exclusively use Mettler Web Bond Temporary Adhesive Spray. Here's a video on the product.. It doesn't smell and although there is a bit of adhesive that will stick on your needle, it's easy to remove with your fingers.

  • Place the folded napkin, wrong side down, folded piece on top, along the center line of the hoop and aligned with the cross hairs of the printed page.

Look for the blue dot of the center of the marked design and see how it is aligned with the center of the printed design and centered in the hoop.

Tip: You may need to practice this a few times to feel comfortable with this method. If you lift up the napkin and need to reposition it, then check hoop alignment with the printed template again and also see if there is still enough adhesive to hold the napkin securely and if not, then respray the adhesive.

  • Open the fold of the napkin, smoothing the napkin on the adhesive covered stabilizer.
  • Place the hoop on the embroidery machine.

  • Load the design into your embroidery machine.
  • Specify that the machine place the needle in the center of the design, not the beginning.
  • Adjust the positioning so that the center of the design is aligned with the center mark you made earlier.

Embroider away!

Tip: along with testing the stabilizer, I usually stitch out a test to see how the colors I have chosen work on the design. Your machine is really color blind and you can substitute any color you want for those designated in the design instructions. :-)

How pretty your table will be with your special napkins! They don't really need any special care.
  • Always iron from the design area on the wrong side so that the design area maintains a bit of a raised design.
  • I save my rayon threads for items that will be used gently. I use Isacord embroidery thread for napkins, childrens clothing and many other items.
  • If I am embroidering with metallic threads (don't groan), then I use Yenmet metallic thread
  • I also use Organ embroidery needles exclusively. They are less costly and give superior results than most other needles. Their eye is larger so there is less friction on the embroidery thread as it goes through the needle. If your design has thousands of stitches and each stitch passes through the needle 3 times, you can imagine the havoc a poorly chosen needle with have on the outcome of your project.
  • The design was embroidered using Melt Away stabilizer, Isacord threads and a size 80 Organ embroidery needle.
  • The design can be found: https://www.embroiderydesigns.com/productdetails/sweet-heirloom/stockdesign/1/she0285_010.aspx


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