Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Serving Up Serenity

If you recall, last week I took you on a little shopping excursion
with me to one of my favorite stores—Marshalls.

Remember all those wonderful Valentine's dishes?

it just so happened that the day I was there,
I didn't make a single purchase.

But, a day or so later, I decided to go back and buy
several place settings and a number of serving pieces.

When I returned, there would still be plenty of pieces to choose from—right? 
After all, the display had been overflowing with goodies.

when I returned, the entire display was missing.
Oh, no! Where did everything go?

I searched the store, thinking that perhaps
they had just shuffled things around. And, indeed,
they had moved those dishes—at least the handful that were left.
I went to three stores—yes, three—and could only come up with
 a fraction of the pieces I had intended to go home with.

Armed with those few pieces, I scurried back to the cottage to mull over
how I was going to use them.  Then inspiration hit!

I love to dine al fresco. There's just something about being
out in the open air that makes food taste so much better.

But, there's a difference between just eating outdoors—at a barbeque
or picnic—and having a genuine dining experience.

I ventured outside the cottage
to look for that special place to create just such an "experience."

Unfortunately, it’s the dead of winter here.
Consequently, things are looking rather dismal.

The only color in the landscape at present is...
 brown, brown, and more brown—except for the lively green of the pines.
Thank goodness for the pines!

As I surveyed my surroundings, I thought of how pretty, prissy, 
and feminine those dishes were and how rustic and primitive
the landscape appeared at present.

As a matter of fact, the only color to be
found anywhere, other than the pines,
was the white blooms of my camellias—if you consider that color. 

And I'm sorry to say…they had been kissed one too
many times by Mr. Jack Frost!

As I stood in one of the fields behind the cottage,
 something occurred to me. The Yankee and I have such divergent tastes that I'm constantly
challenged to strike a balance between the rustic and the refined.

Hmmm!  Rustic surroundings, refined tableware—
I could just blend the two...
as always!

I gathered a table and some chairs from one of the barns, gave
everything a thorough cleaning, and proceeded with my plan of attack.

I chose a rather large piece of lace from my stash to cover the table,
 some simple lace-trimmed napkins, and several old lace curtain panels
to toss over the backs of the chairs.

I knew I would have to soften things up a bit for those dishes to shine.

My goal was to create a light-reflecting, colorful table setting
that would nicely contrast with the somewhat stark countryside. I decided that
a splash of vibrant color would complement the dishware
 from Marshalls quite well.

So, I brought my favorite vintage ruby red goblets into play.

Though I dared not use anything with a flame in this environment,
I absolutely had to display the incredibly ornate candlesticks
that I found at—you guessed it—Marshalls.

Their beautiful sparkling crystals would be the perfect accompaniment
to my assortment of vintage crystal and clear-glass accessories. 

The shimmering sunlight reflecting from all those gleaming glass surfaces
would present a nice alternative to the absence of candlelight.

To bring yet more color to the setting, I assembled
some pink silk roses, Queen Anne's lace, and silk greenery to make
 floral arrangements to place atop the candlesticks.

While I was at it, I fashioned four simple napkin rings
from other silk flowers I had on hand.

I really love the instant character that vintage
and antique items contribute to any setting.

And, I prefer to mix and match my pieces—especially silver flatware.
In this particular tablescape, I used three different patterns of vintage silver.

I also delight in uniqueness.

 For that reason, I dispensed with protocol,
reversed the normal layout of the flatware, and placed the knives and spoons to barely peek
 from the lacy opening of the napkins—which were placed at an angle.

For a touch of whimsy, I decided to incorporate these cute,
 inexpensive glass votive holders from the Dollar Store—two for a dollar.

They made simply charming salt cellars, and since they were
 heart-shaped, they tied in perfectly to the Valentine's theme.

Notice how sweetly they repeat
the hearts splashed all over the plates and bowls?

Though the field where I was hosting this little Valentine's soirée
was a bit drab and lacking in color, the serenity that enveloped you there would
certainly make a wonderful dining experience.

When all is said and done...
I think rustic and refined play pretty well together.   ; )


  1. You have gone to a LOT of trouble, but it was worth the effort! That backdrop is the perfect juxtaposition! Your candelabra is beautiful. I have learned the hard way at Marshall's and TJ Maxx--Buy now; think later :) LOVED this!

  2. How beautiful! Love the contrast of the "crystal" and the "country"! So glad you were able to get at least a few of those dishes - they are gorgeous. Two place settings is enough anyway when it is for a romantic dinner for two! It was fun how you "walked" us through your set-up!


  3. It is a beautiful set of dishes and I am happy you got a few pieces, those bowls are just so pretty with the little heart in the center, love it, your setting is wonderful and sometimes you only need a few pieces....who am I kiddin, I know you will keep lookin ...I know I

  4. Beautiful and inspiring. I love the contrast of the dead of winter and the dark wood with the pretty china and lacey details. really pretty.
    Holly @ 504 Main

  5. You could be in a Romantic Country magazine with those pics! Is there a magazine called Romantic Country? I love the rustic and romantic look to the whole thing. There's one thing I've learned about Marshall's/TJ Maxx/Home Goods ~ if you see it and want it, get it! Because it ain't gonna be there when you go back!

  6. Oh that table is stunning...I love the candleabras! So pretty! Don't you hate it when you pass something up and then wish you had bought it the first time! Your selections turned out beautiful!

    Miss Bloomers

  7. I love your tablescape! It is rustic and pretty at the same time. Your pics are fit for a magazine.

  8. Oh my gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing. There truly is beauty in the winter....we just need to "see" it, and you my friend, make that very easy to do indeed!

  9. Perfect for Valentines! Beautiful dishes. Thanks for sharing and happy TT to you!

  10. So glad that you found a few pieces of that lovely peony pattern. I have learned that if you see something at TJMaxx/HomeGoods/Marshall's, just like the thrift stores, you had better buy it right then and there, or chances are it will be long gone the next time you are in the store!

    Your table is gorgeous all dressed in white and pink with a splash or two of red!

    Thanks for sharing.

  11. Oh, I do that all the time--see something that strikes my fancy, decide to pass, think and think about it, and then go back only to find that what I intended to get is now gone! I'm glad you were able to find some of those pretty dishes, though! Your beautiful and feminine tablescape really shines in those surroundings!

  12. Absolutely love your tablescape in the field of wheat (or whatever)! Loved reading your story and seeing every beautiful photo! Just a dreamy beautiful setting!!! Signed up to follow also. Love your blog!

  13. Beautiful table and lovely setting. Love the mix of old and new, rustic and refined. Great job.

  14. Beautiful roses and tabelscape. Thanks for sharing. I also love eating outside and you turned something so bland and ordinary into something so beautiful.

  15. Location,Location,Location!!

    Oh my~~ how pretty:)

    I will be right over!

    Happy Thursday Tablescape:)


  16. I'm just blown away by how beautiful your al fresco tablescape is. All I can say is WoW! All the elements combined make this magazine worthy! --Delores

  17. Your experience should be a lesson to all of us. When we see something we like, buy it then. Your tablescape is wonderful.

  18. Such a lovely tablescape! I'm sorry you weren't able to get all the pieces you wanted.
    I've long learned that if I see something I like, BUY IT!! I can always return it, but once it's gone at Marshall's/Home Goods/TJ Maxx/Ross, chances are I'll never see it thereagain...and at their wonderful prices!

  19. Fabulous story about how you created this wonderful little scene, you have such a creative eye for combining all those peices into a pretty place to rest and the field backdrop with afternoon light is just devine.

  20. How pretty! The dishes are adorable. And your pics outstanding btw. (I love good pics) And I'm amazed your weather is good enough to be OUT there. Lucky you!

    Love the field backdrop. Dreamy!

    Thanks for linking up to SNS!
    FJ Donna

  21. oh! you creative one!

    i love pics that are so creative or just require thinking out of the box! superb job just on the pics, BUT your table is amazing as well.

    btw, not that you know us ~ but was thinking of taking my little ones out for a cupcake picnic in the snow just to take pictures.
    so, yes, i do love these kind of fun adventures. but i will say you had to "pack" a lot more to take your pictures out in the field.

  22. I will say there was a tad more effort required for this little endeavor. But, to put things in context...the heavier pieces are stored in a barn close by and we have a small tractor with an attachable wagon for hauling items. The fun that I had creating this tablescape in the field was worth it! ~Liz

  23. So much fun and ideas in here.

    I die and drool for you dearie collections. So wonderful.

    TY for sharing. Happy w/end.

  24. Ah, my favourite style, rustic and pretty. Love it. You sure did a great job pulling all those pieces together. Looks fabulous. Thanks for sharing.

  25. This is just stunning...could have come straight out of a magazine. I just love the outdoor rustic setting contrasting with the lace and gorgeous pieces you used! Beautiful!

  26. I have enjoyed my visit here and will yertainly come back again... love love that table setting against that gorgeous and somewhat misterious background... I'm glad I've found your blog... come visit me at the house in the roses...and so nice meeting you!


  27. AWW..I love it all...from beginning to end...thanks for sharing with me ! xo

  28. Oh, be still my heart! This is UTTERLY DIVINE@!!!
    I'm enthralled by the gorgeous dichotomy of RUSTIC LUXE you've embodied here!
    The location...swoon!
    The mixtures of elements (love the lace tablecloth and the red goblets!) from mis-matched chairs to gorgeous crystal--

    You've created a symphony for the eyes!

    Lana In Italy


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