Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Finally! A Party on the Deck!


It was the most beautiful evening on Sunday!  We had 14 dear friends over for a very casual pot luck dinner and it was finally cool enough to dine outdoors.  It seems that the same people who will play 18 holes of golf in 95 degree weather find it too hot to eat a meal outside.  Myself included.  But Sunday the air was nearly cool and I actually took a stack of shawls and wraps outside just in case.

Since everything was simple and casual, I used these paper products now on sale at Target.  Aren't they fabulous?  My daughter in Ohio found them first, and that sent me on a search for them here in Atlanta.  It wasn't so easy.  First store had none, second store had only cups, then I finally found only what you see here.  Fortunately, they were enough, and a plan was hatched.

Here, you see all three tables, with blue and white pots filled with sunflowers from the farmer's market, yellow napkins, and yellow or bamboo flatware.  

You can see what a pretty night it was, and the lake was especially reflective and beautiful.

This is just a cardtable in the corner, but, because I kept it so simple, there was plenty of room for four.

The third table overlooked the pool and fireplace.

I placed several candles around the railing and we did end up lighting them, as we lingered over a beautiful fruit tart dessert.

I had some little blue and white votives as well.

Lots of different chairs, but that's what it took to all be together in one place.

I've had emails asking how our different outdoor areas link up, so here's the round deck that we were just on, with these steps leading from......

here, which is just beside.......

here, which is just across the pool from......

here, which is beside the fireplace.

Got it?

I served from the bar/cabana room just off of the pool.

Here are the dishes before anything is dished up, because, as you  know, I loose my focus and forget about blogging as soon as the first guest arrives.   

Behind the bar, I set out more Cheeky products (the "Happy Day" cups) and various pitchers for tea and water.  Forget the fact that I still have the Press and Seal on the lemons!

I filled this English footbath with ice and wine bottles.  

This wooden French crate holds the summer liqueurs.  

We're ready for coffee, too!

This area of the same room has nothing to do with the evenings' offerings, but I just wanted to show off the monogrammed towels that my friend Amy (who can do anything) made for me.  Aren't they awesome? 

I like to extend the feeling of the evening into the powder rooms on the first floor.  Here are some daisies that feel like the sunflowers.

And in the other powder room, I tried to do the same.

I almost forgot that I had these hand towels.

And my little French shepherdess got some black-eyed daisies in her brass baskets.

I had a sunflower wreath on the front door, but when I got the news that one of our couples had just become grandparents that morning, I changed it out to this little onesie and a welcome sign for the new little one, Cort. 

This lucky baby was born to the beautiful couple I featured in a 3-part blog about their wedding exactly two years ago.  You can see it here, here, and here.   They are beautiful people inside and out, and I'm so happy to share their happiness.

How many mommies can give their parents a baby on Grandparents Day???  Here is the very beautiful, but very sleepy new grandma.  Or rather, Yaya!

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Best Late Summer Soup

Pretty, isn't it?  And, oh Mama!  Is it Good!!!  This is based on a recipe I found in Coastal Living this summer.  We've had regular gazpacho all summer, but, now that the corn and tomatoes are at their peak, I decided to try this.  Seriously....give it a try.  It's also very low fat, and aside from the carbs in the corn, it's good for you.  

Corn Gazpacho with Crab
(serves 4 generously)

8 ears of fresh yellow corn
1 pint of yellow grape tomatoes
3/4 c. mild white onions or leeks
1  1/2 c. chicken stock
1 T. olive oil
2 t. fresh lemon juice
1  1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. white pepper
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1/4 c. skim milk
1 c. lump crab meat, drained
1/4 c. thinly sliced green onion tops

Boil corn in a large pot of water for about 5-8 minutes.  Drain and cool.  Cut the kernels off of the cob.  You should have about 4 cups.  Finely chop a small amount of the yellow pepper and save for garnish.

Set aside a few tomatoes for garnish, and add the rest of the tomatoes to the corn in a blender.  Add the next 7 ingredients, and process until smooth.  Add the milk and process again.  Chill at least 2 hours.  

Divide among 4 bowls and top with crab.  Sprinkle the halved tomatoes, chopped pepper, and sliced green onion tops. 

Best made early the day of serving.

I served this last night at this dinner.  We all loved it!

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Monday, September 7, 2015

Late Summer Table

We've entertained every day this Labor Day weekend, and this is the last dinner.  We played golf and had our partners over for a quick, easy meal.  For some reason, I didn't want to do red, white and blue, so I decided to do a tribute to the icons of late summer: the sunflower and the tomato.

This color combination is so French, and I have these linens that I love but I rarely use that tie these colors together perfectly.  The tablecloth and the napkins are yardage from Pierre Deux.  Remember that great store?  

On this wicker charger from World Market, I stacked a red Ballard Design dinner plate and a sunflower salad plate by Maxcera that I got at Homegoods.  The colors are a little off in this picture, but you get the idea.

These small bowls with tomatoes on them are by 222 Fifth, and also came from Homegoods.  Here's a red variety of tomato......

and here's a yellow variety.  All four bowls are different. 

This flatware is so old that I can't remember where it came from, but those red bread and butter plates are from Walmart.

The glassware picks up these two dominant colors well.  The yellow tumbler is from Pottery Barn, and the red stem is vintage. 

A couple of years ago, I spied this gold cachepot at a wonderful store in Indianapolis, called Surroundings, and I scooped it up immediately.  I still love the way the fruit and handles are so three dimensional.  The inside is glazed with turquoise, but it needn't show here.  I filled it with the freshest sunflowers that I bought at the Alpharetta farmers market yesterday.  Those cherry tomatoes are from there, too.  I also bought some small yellow pear tomatoes that I thought I would add to the table, but I used them all in the soup I served, a Corn Gazpacho with Crab.  I'll post that recipe tomorrow, because it is soooo yummy. 

This seemed the perfect way to close the door on the weekend.  Some would say to end summer, but not me!  I'll be celebrating summer for a while yet. 

Not red, white and blue for Labor Day, but it seemed perfectly appropriate. 

A year or so ago, I did a table very similar to this with tomatoes and dahlias.  You can see it here.

I love these watercolored cocktail napkins by Cynthia Dunn.  They even added a "Bonjour" to our French/Labor Day/salute to sunflowers and tomatoes.

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Friday, September 4, 2015

Feeling A Little Antsy



I am soooo not ready to pull out the fall decor and dishes.  I'd love some cooler weather, but it will be a long time before we experience autumn here in Georgia.  So, I'll be sticking with some late summer tables for a while.  These linens are some of my favorite.  They are a riff on a typical gingham picnic look.  

I used a cream burlap floor-length tablecloth and topped it with this cream and black dupioni plaid edged with gingham.  Seems like an odd combination, but it works for me.  

The napkin is a regular cotton gingham embroidered with some fun ants.

Set on the upper, round white deck, this makes a great Friday night kick-off to the Labor Day weekend.  We are predicted to have rain most of the weekend, so tonight's dinner might be the only outdoor dining we get.

The flowers at the wholesaler were a bit picked over this afternoon, but I did find these fringy (is that a word?) gerbera daisies and cream astilbe.  They picked up the colors I was looking for.  I put them in this heavy black iron urn.

This black handled flatware is old, but available everywhere.  The cream charger is from ZGallerie, the red plate and bowl from Ballard's and the black rimmed salad plate is from Target.

These black stems are from Homegoods, and I use them far more than I ever thought I would.  The red ones are vintage.

This small dish is smaller than a bread and butter dish, but larger than a butter pat dish.  Here, I put only an ant from Michael's on it.  It is actually a tablecloth weight, but I unscrewed the clip so that I could use it like this, just for giggles.

 
Here's the view over the railing.  

And here's the view back toward the house.  You can see the brick chimney with its weeping mortar. 

It's hard to tell in this photo, but this is a net dome to keep bugs off of the food.  It's sort of ironic that it is decorated with bugs!  I only have two of these, so I used one over the bruchetta during cocktails. 

Then, I also chose these
 paper napkins by Elise for drinks.  Pretty cute. huh?  

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