Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Annual Cousins' Birthday Party

As I have mentioned before, we now have eight grandchildren: two are 8, two are 6, one is 5, two are 4 and one is 7 weeks.  Every summer I hold a Cousins' Birthday Party.  We celebrate all the cousins' birthdays on this day.  That way throughout the year, families will not have to fret about driving any distances to a party or complicate already VERY busy schedules of soccer games, piano lessons, tutoring, dance  recitals, sleepovers or other child-oriented activities so that cousins can get to celebrate with each other! Generally, I serve lunch and have cupcakes with candles to insure everyone has a candle to make a wish on.  There are balloons and crepe paper streamers, noisemakers and birthday hats.  There is a craft table, and some kind of water-oriented activity: a large wading pool, a slip-n-slide, or sprinkler. And, of course, I rent a jumpy house.  Everyone gets a present from Gramma and Pops, and then each person gets a gift from one cousin (names are pulled randomly prior to the party).  In the past, it's been a chaotic day full of laughter and fun and hopefully, one that becomes part of their childhood memories of coming to Gramma and Pops' home.  I decided for Cuisine Kathleen's Whimsical Summer Tablescape challenge, I would plan out a tablescape for this summer's Cousins' Birthday Party.  It will probably be in July when schedules permit. But, I thought I would share with you what the table will look like.  Of course, at the actual party there will be 7 place settings and the baby will be in the high chair!  Here it is:

I started with a plastic tablecloth because our dining room table needs some protection with this little group of fingers!

Then I added woven straw placemats that I found at Pier One.  I was surprised at how well they mirror the colors of the dishes and flatware!  Just meant to be, I guess.

Next, I used "chargers" (actually dinner plates) of different colors that are reflected in the melamine plates I'll be using for serving lunch.  I used a yellow plate, an orange plate, a purple plate and a green plate.  The extra layer also serves to protect the table from spills!

I added a different colored napkin to each setting to keep the dishes separated. One is bright yellow; one is light yellow; one is bright orange and one is a red orange.

The main plates are melamine ones that I found at my grocery store.  I thought the whimsical prints of ice cream fit the bill perfectly for a summer children's party.

The table setting is completed with mix-n-match flatware to add to the color of the table, Sesame Street plastic cups and sunglasses that will serve as favors for each person at the party!

My centerpiece consists of a bucketful of Play Dough and Play Dough "cookie cutters".  It's colorful, and just a little tease of what activities are to follow after lunch!  Two bottles of bubbles and two sprays of stars complete the centerpiece vignette!

The menu will be hamburger sliders, chips, cut carrot and celery sticks and fresh fruit salad.  I placed bowls and platters on the table, but they're now empty since this tablescape is just a practice run.  I've also taken out my cupcake holder from Williams-Sonoma that will be filled with pudding-filled cupcakes (lemon and chocolate), covered in confectioner's sugar.  I love this party every year, even if it takes me a few days to get over it when it's done.  Nothing can ever replace the sights and sounds of this special day when all the kids are together and I am moving non-stop from the beginning until the end---with a huge smile and a heart full of love!!

My cupcake holder:

A yellow plate:

A purple plate:

An orange plate:

A green plate:

The table, once again:

I'll be linking up to Cuisine Kathleen's Let's Dish Challenge at  www.cuisinekathleen.com,
Christine's Table It! at www.rustic-refined.com and Susan's Tablescape Thursday at www.betweennapsontheporch.net.  Please be sure to visit these blogs and see all the wonderful posts!!
Thank you, ladies, for hosting and giving us a place to have so much fun with our plates and such.

I love to read your comments, and will do my best to reply to you.  Your kind encouragement and suggestions are always appreciated.    Rosie

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Congrats to Dads and Flags

The other night my hubby and I were watching The Food Network when we saw Bobby Flay make "Croissant French Toast".  My hubby proclaimed, "I'd love to make that for the family!"  Well, Father's Day was coming up and we hadn't really made plans yet.  With the four sons-in-law relishing their time at home on a Sunday, we hadn't really asked to have them travel and come here for the holiday.  So, I started making calls to see the potential for a Father's Day Brunch so that Pops could make his newfound recipe for "Croissant French Toast"!  Three of the four families were able to come, and so tonight I readied the table for Sunday Brunch tomorrow.  I thought I would share the table with you tonight.

Today is Flag Day (did you remember that June 14th is traditionally the day we celebrate and honor our beautiful flag?)  So, I decided to go with a color scheme of red, white and blue.  My Polish Pottery plates and accessories (collected from HomeGoods and the Polish Pottery website over the years) fit the bill!

I started with my gingham red and white tablecloth I've had for many years.  I like to use it on Father's Day because it is a "signal" that summer has started and picnics are close at hand!

My dish stack began with my Polish Pottery dinner plate.

Then I added the watermelon plates I got at Michael's last year at the end-of-summer sale.  This will actually by the first time I am using them!  Since watermelon will be a part of the fruit salad for brunch, these plates seemed appropriate and festive as well.

I added four heart plates to identify where the dads will be sitting. (Just spreading a little love for the daddies in our lives who take such good care of our daughters and grandchildren we love so much!)

I completed the place setting with my Mikasa Regent Bead flatware, my blue Mexican glass tumblers from Pier One, red gingham napkins that match my tablecloth and woven straw napkin rings from Bed, Bath and Beyond.

I kept my centerpiece simple because I really think I'll have to remove it once we start putting food on the table.  It's going to be quite a menu, and the table will probably fill up quickly.  My vase is from the Murano Glass Factory in Venice, Italy.  We got it on our trip there almost nine years ago, and it is the focal point of my dining room table.  I LOVE the patterns and colors in it.  Seeing it every day brings back many special memories of our trip.  The faux flowers and birds are from Michael's. Our oak lazy susan came with our dining room set when we bought it.  It is especially useful during a family dinner when everyone starts grabbing things!

Here are some of the pictures of the serving pieces I'll be using for the menu of Croissant French Toast with Almond Maple Syrup, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs with cheese, O'Brien potatoes, and fresh fruit salad (watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, and honeydew melon), coffee, tea and orange juice.

It will be wonderful to have the part of the family together who can join us: three daughters, three sons-in-law, five grandchildren (including the last little girl born 6 weeks ago; it will be that son-in-law's first Father's Day!)  I hope your Father's Day finds you surrounded by much love and happiness.  And please take a few minutes to remember the beauty of our country's flag and how much has been sacrificed so we can watch it wave in freedom.

I'll be linking up to Christine's Table It! Link Party at www.rustic-refined.com and Susan's Tablescape Thursday at www.betweennapsontheporch.net . Please take some time and see what everyone has shared! And, thank you, ladies, for hosting these parties.

I'd love to hear from you.  Comments are always appreciated.  If you'd like to become a follower, just go to the top of my blog, fill in your email address where it says, "Follow By Email" and hit "Submit"!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A New Version of Storage Wars...

When Alma at The Tablescaper announced her link party entitled, Where Do You Keep it All? Part 5  I knew I wanted to participate.  I thought it would be eye-opening to me to really evaluate where I have been storing all my tablescaping items.  I'm fairly new to the hobby (my Blogaversary of One Year won't be until September), but I've LOVED plates and crystal for forever, so my collection had a pretty good head start.  I've got to tell you, this post has totally inspired me to get a handle on my organizational flaws!! When I took an honest look at the pictures I had taken, I thought, "I can't possibly post these pictures on my blog! It's too embarrassing! Even if all my storage areas are surreptitiously hidden behind closet doors, others will look at the chaos and enter my name as a contestant on the show, Hoaders: Buried Alive! But, I'll take a chance, and if nothing else, please know this blog entry will hopefully serve as a "BEFORE" series. Stay posted for the "AFTER" series of photos when I can come up with a better system. So, here goes!

Before we did renovations about ten years ago and added a new kitchen, dining area and family room (better known as a Great Room), we had a small dining area off a small galley kitchen. I had an antique cabinet I called my sideboard where I could store linens and placemats and use for additional serving space during a holiday dinner. I had one closet that served as an appliance garage and held the zippered china storage sets with my "good" china and Christmas dishes.   I also had a corner cabinet that served as my "hutch". This held some serving pieces and my crystal stemware.  Here's how the corner cabinet looks today where it's been relocated to my living room.  I have collectibles in it now, and some crystal and porcelain serving pieces.

After the new addition was added, I began with one closet in my Great Room area. At first, I had a shelf for Spring/Easter plates, one shelf for Fall/Thanksgiving plates, and one shelf for Christmas dishes. Other shelves held serving platters and bowls, boxed cups and glasses and some table decorations. As you can see, the original plan has morphed into more of a "just put it wherever there is room!" type of organization:

The original appliance garage now has shelves added for stemware storage. It is also sorely in need of re-organization!

This is the hutch that is a part of the dining set we purchased after our new dining area was added. The top section serves as a display area for holiday and season changes (and also adds some badly needed space for plates and crystal. Flatware, linens (tablecloths and napkins) and accent pieces for my tablescaping are stored in the bottom cabinets.


Once I got my blog started last year, I began earnestly perusing antique stores, swapmeets and discount stores for plates and accent pieces. It was glorious!!  However, it quickly became apparent that more storage was needed for all my purchases.  After my oldest daughter went to college, her room became my office and our guest room. We had a desk unit and cabinets installed and that became the place I spent my years as a High School English teacher: MANY hours of lesson planning and grading essays!! I've been retired almost six years now, and haven't really emptied my cabinets of teaching supplies yet! But, the closet was perfect for storage.  It started out so well organized. One industrial strength storage rack:  shelves for plates; one shelf for chargers and round placemats; a plastic bin for flatware and lots of room left over for lanterns and other accent pieces. Then I added a shoe organizer that worked perfectly for napkins.  I kept the clothing rod in the closet and that became storage for tablecloths! However, the frenzy of collecting tablescaping components has now made my organized shelving unit and closet now look like this:

(Pretty scary, huh?)

I then had to look at the desk unit for additional storage and started adding tall pitchers, teapots and faux flowers to my collection of family photos!

Then I moved across the room to my book shelf for additional storage. The top shelf houses stemware and tumblers.....

Finally, I got some plastic bins for the overflow (they are located UNDER my desk unit!) I recently found these handled baskets at the Dollar Tree store.  They work perfectly for my flatware.  Now I want to find a way to close off this storage area. Any ideas?  I thought about curtains on spring rods as well as some type of shutter.

I now have filled up the room except for one other area: my book cabinets (remember: they're still full of teaching materials!) So.....I have to make some decisions. The elimination of these remnants of my teaching career is a daunting task.  I keep thinking...what if I want to tutor? what if my grandkids need extra learning support? what if....what if.....? Bottom line is I have to be willing to "LET IT GO!! LET IT GO....."( start hearing the swelling of an orchestra and the voice of Idina Menzel!)  It's so hard to say good-bye to these things that filled my waking hours for so many years.  But, there is no where else to turn for storage.

So----this is where I store my tablescaping items, and where my future "dish room" will be.  Like I said, please consider this post a BEFORE glimpse.  Hopefully, once life calms down a bit, I can work on the AFTER product. I still keep my eyes open for successful storage unit ideas.  That is why I am looking forward to Alma's link party.  I'm hoping I'll see what other tablescapers have done to keep their stash under control!  Any suggestions you can offer are appreciated.  Just leave a comment and I will take your suggestions to heart!

I'll be linking to Alma's "Where Do You Keep It All, Part 5" at  http://thetablescaper.blogspot.com
and Dawn's History and Home Link party at www.wecallitjunkin.com   Thank you, Alma and Dawn for hosting these parties!

If you'd like to become a follower of my blog, please just go the top of the blog post, add your email address where indicated, and hit "Submit"!  Many thanks....