Wednesday, September 10, 2014

It's Almost My First Blogaversary!

Last September 12, 2013, I began my adventure into the world of blogging.  It was the start of a hobby that has given me so much pleasure.  A good friend, more like a family member, came over and set up my blog for me.  He used Blogger, showed me how to fill in the blanks of the template, and I began.  My first blog post can be seen here.  Since then, I have changed my layout somewhat and learned much more about photography ( got an attachment for my flash unit for better lighting; decided I liked the "x-large" size of photos; and, tried some creative shots of dishes and accent pieces).  It's gotten so much easier to put a post together.  When I started, it took many hours to set up the table; then it took a long time to take pictures that weren't too dark or didn't highlight the tablescape very well; then it took forever to actually compose the post (figuring how to download photos from iPhoto; figuring how to to link up to parties----I didn't even know what a "thumbnail" was!)  It really was at least a two day project.  Things have improved dramatically.  And I credit the sweet fellow bloggers I have met in the course of starting this hobby, for making that improvement.  Thank you, Susan, from  and Dawn from for your encouragement and willingness to answer my questions.  In those beginning days of confusion,  you both really kept me going, and I'm so very grateful.

It's been wonderful over this past year sharing my love for dishes, linens, flatware, crystal and accent pieces with other tablescapers who share this same fascination.

For this blogaversary tablescape I decided to challenge myself.  I'm still trying to use things I haven't used before.  I did that for my last post, so by the time this post came, it was really difficult to find new components.  But, I was determined.  So, everything on this table has not been used this entire year.

Here's The Result:

Here's How It Was Created:

I started with a placemat I had purchased at Pier One just as I began blogging:

The first layer of the dish stack is the only dinner plate I haven't yet used.  I got it at the Shinoda Design Center, and it was my determination to enter the world of more contemporary table design that convinced me to get a square-shaped plate. I decided to go with white so I could pair it up with any other plate design or color.

The next plate is a salad plate I found at World Market. It is just marked on the back, Made In Portugal.  I loved the pattern and colors, and would have preferred pairing it with an orange dinner plate, but I realized I had already used my orange plates for last Halloween, and so I couldn't use them for my challenge!  I know it was a stretch to pair this plate with this particular placemat, but I felt the orange in the placemat "sort of" went with the orange in the plate's border design.

The first hiccup in my plans for this table were the napkins!   I had nothing I hadn't already used or any napkins that would really complement the salad plate or placemats.  I found these napkins in my napkin storage and thought, "Umm...they've got blue and gold...maybe they'll work."  The second hiccup was that I had found these napkins at World Market on the clearance table and there were only three left.  So, my table became a table for three. The gold napkin rings are from Bed, Bath and Beyond.

To complete the table setting, I used my mother-in-law's flatware.  It is only labeled "V.U. Stainless Nickel Bronze". Since I did not have any glasses that I hadn't already used, I decided to use these Netas: Made in Italy mugs I purchased from HomeGoods a few Thanksgivings ago.  Their color blended well, even if I rarely serve dinner beverages in mugs!

The centerpiece was very hard to produce.  I searched all around the house for something I had yet to use in a tablescape, and couldn't find anything at first.  A placemat that I use on my sideboard seemed to coordinate with the colors on the table.  Then I found a blown glass vase that I had bought at a street fair in Ventura, whose color also blended with the table components.  I looked outside, and the last of my dahlias was blooming so I grabbed it and flanked it with two LED candles my hubby got me for Christmas.  I wanted a little height, so I turned a tray upside down and "voila!"

I added a gold tray (a Christmas gift from a dear friend) and the serving pieces from my mother-in-law's flatware set to fill the empty spot where the fourth tablesetting would have been, if I had bought four napkins instead of three!!

So, I was able to complete the challenge I had set for my first blogaversary.  There is nothing on the table that has been used during the entire year.  Thank you for stopping by and helping me celebrate.  Know that all of you who have become followers hold a special place in my heart.  Your support means more than I can say.  And to those of you who take the time to comment, thank you.  You truly do make my day.  I've so enjoyed getting to know all of you over the year, and appreciate every comment you make.  I never realized how important this hobby would become to me.  It's made me push myself to learn new things, organize myself and get the cobwebs out of the creative side of my brain which had gotten pretty congested since I retired!

I'll be linking up to Susan's Tablescape Thursday at
and Christine's Table It! Link Party at
Thank you, ladies, for hosting these parties and giving us a chance to share our ideas.

If you would like to become a follower of The Magic Hutch, just go to the top of my blog, fill in your email address by "Follow by Email" and hit "Submit"! Many thanks.

Monday, September 1, 2014

September Road Trip!

These are three words that are music to my ears!  Ever since I retired from high school teaching, the month of September has taken on a new meaning.  The word used to loiter on the edge of my consciousness throughout the summer;  then it would intrude into my thoughts about the middle of August, and by Labor Day it would pounce into my awareness like an intruder who's been waiting for an open window to wreak havoc on my sense of serenity!  And the year would begin.  Don't get me wrong; once I got into the routine of interacting with new students and personalities; once I reconnected again with colleagues; and especially once I jumped into the curriculum of treasured literature and the challenge of sharing my love of the written word with my classes, I would remember what brought me to the profession in the first place, and I was actually happy to be back in my classroom.

However, I have to admit that the sense of freedom that retirement brings with it, is a very close second to the fulfillment that my teaching years brought to me.  One thing this freedom brings is the ability to travel outside of the summer months.  And traveling is much easier then.  So, when my hubby said he had to attend a conference up in Northern CA,  I opted for a Road Trip, rather than a flight.  This way we could take a few extra days and "explore some little towns" along the way.  Translated, this means visit "some antique malls to search for more tablescaping goodies!"

This whole explanation is a very long way of explaining why I produced this tablescape today.  I suddenly got to thinking that I really should use some of my current dishes that I haven't shared with you yet, before I continue to add to my inventory.   I've been thinking about blue and yellow for the past couple of weeks, so I searched the house and this is what I came up with:

Here's How It Was Created:

I started with my navy blue tablecloth (I love this cloth; spills just bead!)

I then added a yellow straw placemat found at HomeGoods.  I like the color contrast.

My dish stack started with a royal blue glass charger I found while antiquing in Ventura, CA.  I've been wanting to use them for a while.

The next layer is my yellow Metaceramica dinner plate from HomeGoods (seen many times in my posts).

I then placed a navy blue linen napkin from World Market to separate the salad plate from the dinner plate.

I've been waiting for the right table to share these salad plates.  These were found at a store in Ventura that raises money for animal rescues.  I was delighted to contribute to their cause!  The pattern is called Summer Fruit 174, and it is from International Tableworks.  It really was the inspiration for this table of blue and yellow.  I love the pattern and it reminds me of a picture out of a coloring book!

The place setting is completed with my lime green flatware (from the supermarket!) and my blue glasses from Mexico (found at Pier One).

I've noticed other blogs where the tablescaper has chosen to place the "centerpiece" at the end of the table, instead of in the center. I decided to try this look for this table. It was a real change for me, but I have to admit, I really like the change.  I especially could see this working for a meal with many serving dishes.   They could be lined up along the middle of the table for ease of serving, yet an attractive vignette can still be a part of the table without getting in the way.  My centerpiece, or in this case, table vignette, consists of a tray from HomeGoods, lined with a yellow linen napkin and filled with pieces I found around the house:  a sunflower plate marked Italy and found at a swapmeet;  a salad plate also just marked Made in Italy and found the same day; two blue and white ceramic pieces found at Hobby Lobby, a candlestick and bird (they have no markings); and a floral arrangement found at Michael's.  The tray is flanked by two white lanterns given to me by a very special friend who encourages my hobby!  Thank you, Mary Beth!

The other accents on the table include a thin runner of burlap ribbon on which sit a Godinger & Co. plate from HomeGoods, and a ceramic teapot given to me as a birthday present.

In one of her posts over at Between Naps on the Porch, Susan had shared the idea that the arrangement with two settings on each side of a square table, promoted easier conversation and closeness at a table (those weren't her exact words, but that was the idea I carried away from her comments).  So, I decided to try it, and I really liked the intimate feel of the table.

So, I've shared some plates with you that I haven't used before, which frees my guilty conscience up a bit to explore for some more!  I'll let you know how the road trip goes.  I'm looking forward to the change of scenery, but I also wouldn't be disappointed if a vintage tablecloth came home with me!

I'll be linking up to Christine's Table It! Link Party at 
and Susan's Tablescape Thursday at

Thank you, ladies, for hosting.

If you'd like to become a follower of The Magic Hutch, please go to the top of my blog, enter your email address where it says "Follow by Email" and hit "Submit"!  Thank you!

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