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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Viola!! Violets!!!

It had been several days since I had taken a stroll through the gardens, so I grabbed a cup of coffee and hurried out before I had to meet someone for a design consult.  I was so shocked to see that in two days the wild violets had appeared and were looking so incredibly lovely.  I hurried back to the house, took this violet patterned china out of storage, threw it on a tray and made a trayscape.  Here's my disclaimer: this is a phony tea party!  I would have loved to have called a friend, but I just pretended today.

A few years ago, Atlanta Ballet had a guest choreographer in town to set work on a piece.  Her name is Violette Verdi and she is the dearest, tiniest, sweetest little French woman you ever met.  I decided to invite her to tea and used this china.  She actually cried when she saw what I had set up for her!  It was a very special day for both of us, I assure you.

I made a tiny bouquet of violets and tied them with twine from the potting shed.  Here they are placed on a lavender napkin.  I sort of feel weak at the knees when I see a violet bouquet, because I remember my Daddy gave me a violet corsage for Easter one year.  Lord knows how my mother kept it fresh until I wore it!  They wilt so easily.

This is just a twig votive holder that I plunked a plant that I dug up into.  I returned the plant as soon as I finished the shoot.

Here's the sugar bowl with it's gold trim.

The spoons are from my collection of silverplate.  See how I just keep the basic shape similar and mix them up?  These, to me, are so much more interesting than the matching silver, which I almost never use.

The empty acorn hat in this photo makes me smile.  This sort of represents one season slipping into the next.

If I had shot later in the day, these sweet flowers would have been a little more open and their heads would have been a little higher.

Looks like I have a lot of cleaning up to do in this garden!

The angle of the sun actually washed the color in this one out a bit.

I just had to get this fleeting moment in the garden.

There is something appealing about the beautiful silver tray sitting on the rustic zinc table on the "dining pad" in the garden.

I have to be sure to grab a friend for a real tea next year for violet season!  I'm off to meet a client.  I hope she'll understand my slight tardiness.

I'm posting at
for Susan's Tablescape Thursday blog party.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

We've been to the Beach!!!!!!

The panhandle of Florida, that is, the Gulf of Mexico, was once known as "The Redneck Riviera", but my word, how that has changed!!!  These beaches have sugar-fine sand and crystal clear water and have sprouted some of the most beautiful and innovative beach communities.  There are still old beaches that have evolved into billboard laden areas full of fast food, but the area now boasts delightful and wonderful concept communities.  Our most recent find is Alys Beach. It calls itself the crown jewel of the Emerald Coast and I can't argue with that! As you travel down the Scenic Highway, 30-A, you know you're at Alys Beach when you meet these interesting structures.  

Then you enter the most interesting community with pristine manicured landscaping and a distinct Mediterranean feel. 

There is no arguing that it is total luxury.  The homes have the most awesome details and design.  They are all sparkling white and have been awarded the designation "fortified for safer living", due to the construction requirements.  This even qualifies them for special insurance rates.  That can only be a good thing at the beach, right? 

It is a green community with passive heating and cooling.

This was probably my favorite home.  That pale turquoise in the canvas awnings was echoed in a lot of the details of the house.  I had to give myself a real talking to in order not to window peek, I'll tell you!!!

The concept of New Urbanism is it's premise.  You can walk to all of the amenities.  What a beautiful walk it is, too!

Most of the homes have these rain chains to funnel the rain into useful areas.

All of the chimneys have different details and the facades are unique in every way. 

This is the most traditional home we saw.

I took so many photos of the wonderful details.  Love this fountain!!!

 I'm sure that it was not a surprise that this beautiful redbud tree was perfectly positioned to show off it's beauty against this wall.  The plants are all drought resistant native plants and flowers.

This is Lake Marilyn which graces the middle of the site.  This bridge is lit at night and is just magical.

Some of the fountains are unlike any I've ever seen.

This is the Calize pool and restaurant area.  This curtained area leads you into an area inspired by a Greek agora.  It is all paved by Dominican limestone and fitted with arched colonnades and so many interesting details.  We had such fine food and great service there.

Imagine the breeze blowing the canopy of these loungers.  I love the way the shadow of the palm tree is captured in the foreground here. 
These are the private cabanas.  I didn't get a picture of the incredible oval main pool.  There is also a lap pool and several decorative water features. 

 Mr. Pressed Pants especially loved these large driftwood equestrian statues.

Across the road, is the beach, and still more incredible architecture that left me speechless!

And the best part of all..........the pristine beach.  And I've got the sunburn to prove it!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

May the Japanese Heal

There will be no post today.  In honor of the Japanese and their unspeakable tragedy, I'm participating in the bloggers day of silence.  "Ever Ours" and "Utterly Engaged" have created this website, and I invite you all to visit it and find a way to help this beautiful country face this devastation.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Saint Patrick's Day Dinner

I love St. Patrick's Day, but I feel the same way about celebrating it as I do New Year's Eve.....better to be at home with friends than out with those hell-bent on mischief and debauchery.  So we plan on a small dinner party with good friends and a high-low mix of tabletop items.  My favorite kind of table to design!

The china I'll be using is a beautiful button fern pattern.....close enough to shamrocks, don't you think?  I found an entire service for 12 at a tag sale in Conneticut.  It has an amazing amount of dining and serving pieces.  Not as many as it did when I bought it, though!  As I opened the back of my daughter's SUV to take out Adam's stroller, out fell all 12 dinner plates and they smashed to a million pieces.  Not even worth taking to a restorer.  I do have these small luncheon plates, and luckily they go well with my plain gold band Lenox when I want to serve dinner as I do here.  It doesn't have a pattern name on the back, just that it is English and made by John Maddock and Sons. 

These white linens are from the Palm Restaurant line that Homegoods carries.  They wash so well and don't take too much ironing, considering they are linen.  I tied the napkin with fun shamrock ribbon and a green glittery derby hat from Michael's.  This flatware is from World Market.  I use a lot of green on my tables, but most of it is more of a moss green shade.  This is a clearer color but was so inexpensive that I just scooped up eight placesettings.

What other crystal would you use for St. Patrick's Day but Waterford????  This is the Lismore pattern and just for fun, I placed each stem on a foam shamrock from Michael's.

I love these little butter plates.  I'll put a pat of butter on each one topped with a fresh clover leaf.  I've been out checking the paddock for some unfertilized ones.  I'm afraid to use some from the yard, and anyhow, there shouldn't be any if the pre-emergent is doing it's job!

Here's the luncheon sized plate that I'll use for the salad course.

Dessert will be served on these green depression glass plates.  There are several shades of green depression glass, but I love this rather blue/green the best.  I had such a nice afternoon antiquing with my mom when I found them.  It's the memories that make your moderately priced "finds" priceless.

 Here's a close-up of the pattern.  As you can tell, it's pretty well crazed, but then, so am I!!

Here are the old standby Imperial glass salt and peppers that I use so often.  I also used the creamer and sugar bowl from this pattern.

These very fine green mercury glass votives came from that exclusive tabletop store - Krogers!

A friend of mine asked me to go to a fund raising luncheon with her a couple of months ago and this incredible white faux bois basket was on the silent auction table.  I was the first person to bid on it and I was so determined to get it that I never moved the rest of the way around the tables, as I was hovering to protect my bid.  I must have put off "don't touch" vibes, because during the entire cocktail hour, NOBODY else even placed a bid.  Just as the bidding was about to close, I upped my own bid just because I thought that I was getting it too cheaply!  Look at the handle.........

and check out this close-up of the design.  It could hardly be more wonderful!

I filled it with three shamrock plants from Trader Joe's and some white daisies in water tubes tucked in here and there.

Here's an overhead.  I also used some small glittered shamrocks from Michael's just scattered around for a little more cheer.  I think you can really, really go cheesy with St. Patrick's Day stuff if you aren't careful.

I reigned it in a bit, but still feel like it is a festive table.  Green beer, anyone??

I'll be linking with Between Naps on the Porch for her Tabletop Thursday blog party.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spring Sideboard Display

This is the way our sideboard in the dining room usually looks. 

But, come spring, I love to give it a vignette that celebrates the season.  It is now made of all faux materials, but I used to do this with real plants.  It never lasted long, and watering it was a nightmare.  So, I got smart and put together a pretty good look that lasts and lasts.

In order not to scratch the wood with the styrofoam, I set it all on a plastic bag.  The styrofoam sheets are used like risers and I use wooden skewer-like picks to keep them together.

These rubbery cabbage leaves that are really placemats go next to cover the plastic bag.

Loose forsythia branches and two tulip sprays get it to this point.  Since everything is wired, I just bend it until I like the way looks.  By putting it in front of a mirror, the materials are doubled in appearance.

Three fuzzy little bunnies and a potted conical tree are added after the ferns at each end.  The one little guy is on a styrofoam piece to give him height.

These hosta leaves are cut off of several sprays of hosta. 

They add a lot of interest with their variegated colors.

I also cut up several types of ferns to stick in here and there for "covering the mechanics", as the flower show judges like to say.  Then I start placing the little flowering plants and cabbages.

After adding a bird's nest and an egg, it looks like this.

The last touch is some reindeer moss and some lichen.

It looks so much better to have the bunnies partially hidden.  After all, Floppsie, Moppsie, and Cotton Tail don't want Farmer MacGregor to see them!

Our grandson, Owen, always puts a "Ploppsie" in the story somewhere!  Maybe this is really Ploppsie!

This is sort of like putting up my Christmas tree.  It makes me smile every time I walk through the dining room.  Some might ask, "why go to all the bother?", but it's so worth it to me.

This could be used on a mantle, too.

Can we ever have too much spring?

What ever their names, they are wishing you a joyous spring!

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