Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Tablescape

Hoppy Easter! What better way to celebrate Spring than with Easter Bunnies! 
"The Easter Bunny is a rabbit-spirit. Long ago, he was called the "Easter Hare", hares and rabbits have frequent multiple births so they became a symbol of fertility. The custom of an Easter egg hunt began because children believed that hares laid eggs in the grass. The Romans believed that "All life comes from an egg." Christians consider eggs to be "the seed of life" and so they are symbolic of the resurrection of Jesus Christ." Source:
This time of year gives me a sense of renewal and hope.   The land is covered in green, vibrant colors are just sprouting everywhere! It's exciting to see the rebirth of plants, animals and the sense of energy that Spring evokes.

For this tablescape, I am capturing the essence of the "bunnies"  and the eggs.  I am using yellow, pink and green as the theme colors. 

The whole concept of the colors came to me after I figured out which plates to use for the occasion. 
I love collecting plates in different styles and sizes.  I found my first set of the Franciscan plates from a garage sale.  Since then, I would purchase pieces at a time from varying discount stores.
 I love to mix and match the colors of the plates to emphasize the beauty of each design.  For this place setting,  I want to create a feel of an outdoor garden. The plate symbolizes a flower growing from the green earth.  I'm emboldening the yellow part of the flowers on the plate by mixing in a  solid yellow plate.  To bring Easter colors into the setting, I bought some yellow and pink materials and made napkins.  

 I'm into recycling what I have around the house so tablescapes don't break the bank!  Here's the behind-the-scenes Easter tablescape scoop: the light green tablecloth,  vinyl boxwood as placemats, the clear vases, faux pas moss, were used from St. Patrick's Tablescape.  The candlesticks were from Valentine's Day Tablescape Day 2 and Day 5.  
For a lasting enjoyment of a special holiday like Easter or Christmas,  I normally keep the table design for awhile. For this tablescape,  I wanted a garden feel to the table without paying an arm and a leg for the real items.  I started looking for pots and  silk plants to match the colors of the plate. 
Colors, to me, represent a variety of emotions.  According to the pyschology of colors,  yellow  is uplifting, offering hope and  happiness.  I'm showcasing the yellow for this Easter event because it's symbolizes  the enthusiasm for life.
The bunnies inside the vases, represent the excitement of  coming out of their holes, looking for signs of spring.  The butterflies represent free spirit and happy feelings.  I know that every time I see a butterfly it always make me smile at the beauty and wonder of it.
The Eggs represent a new beginning and a new hope for life.  
Green -  the  color of growth, the color of spring, of renewal and rebirth. Green to me promotes a love of nature, and a love of family, and friends.  The plate is set on a faux boxwood used in the St. Patrick's tablescape.
Pink - represents a positive color inspiring warmth and comforting feelings. I've always related it to unconditional love or nurturing and understanding  Again, a sign of hope and love.

Even an adult would enjoy opening a present on Easter.

The pink bag is surrounded by moss like bunnies and egg nests. 
Again, the plates' colors of yellow, green and pink  are extended into the gift bag.  Towards the end of the meal is this giveaway. It contains a small chocolate bar (can't be Easter without chocolates!) and a gift certificate.

Easter Brunch Menu  
Assorted Fruits
Assorted Teas
 Fruited Champagne drinks
French toast w/homemade Peach Syrup
Roasted Vegetables
Spinach Quiche
Eggs Benedict w/Hollandaise Sauce

white Chocolate Brownie Torte
Easter Basket Cupcakes
Sugar Cookies

White Chocolate Brownie Torte - We love dessert in our household, and this one is sweet enough to end the best of meals. 

Easter Basket Cookie cupcake - made out of sugar cookies and a Reese's Peanut Butter cup-filled center. 

No matter how old we are, making molded sugar cookies seems the ideal way to celebrate holidays like Easter.   Decorating them always brings out the kid in me.

Shopper's Corner:
Jo-Ann's Craft Store - yellow and pink fabrics
 Dollar Store - miniature pots, butterflies, gift bags
TJ Maxx - eggs
99 cents store - nests

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Author / Book Birthday Tablescape

Author Brian Freeman's 50th Birthday

I had the honor of doing  a special tablescape for a successful author's 50th birthday in his Bay Area hometown.  Brian Freeman is an internationally acclaimed author of psychological suspense novels and has written and published 8 books (and counting)  which have been translated into numerous languages.  (see Brian's website for details).  

Brian's books never disappoint: His books are thrillers that you can't put down!

For this tablescape, I had the idea to feature his many novels, and since it's the author's 50th birthday, I'm highlighting the 50th page and the 50th chapter of books he's written.

This idea would work well for a book lover's or reader's birthday party.

Many of the author's books represent a  darker side of humanity, with the resulting "spilled blood" (coincidentally, the name of Brian's latest book!).   I am using the colors of black and white to highlight the colors of the written pages and the juxtaposition of good and evil. A red silk cloth surrounds the books representing the blood behind the drama and suspense.

The letters are raised in varying heights to show the ups and downs of the emotions evoked by  the characters, and the story line itself.  The letters are raised by using clear vases and hurricane lamps (recycled from past events).


Since Jo Ann's Craft Store had a 50%  sale on the blocked letters, it saved me from making them.  I made copies of the 50th page or 50th chapter  of the different books, traced the letters, cut them out and pasted them onto the blocks.

I realize that nowadays, no one literally "writes" by hand anymore - the work is normally done on a computer.  But,  I wanted a more dramatic effect to  symbolize terror and blood oozing from the writing.  Thus, the made-up writing quill (courtesy of a bamboo stick from the backyard). 

I had to find the right pages and chapters to fit the letters nicely. 

The Game
I've created a game to liven up the event: " How well do you know Brian's books?"  The goal:  identify which book(s) each letter is made up from.   It is more challenging (and amusing) because some of the words are cut out.  Fortunately, we had Brian  to easily and quickly identify all the books the excerpts came from.  

The word LONDON  is recycled from my Valentine's Day Tablescape - Day 5LONDON  is where the author was first discovered.  His initial book, Immoral,  was also first published in  London.

All around the table are a  little cut out pieces of  red silk cloth to look like spilled blood.

The napkin is folded in white and red and is  designed to look like a working man's collar.  It represents that a sinister dark side lurks in every man.

The author's plate had an added red silk cloth to look like spilled blood.  

The Cake

Harmonizing with the theme color - A red velvet cupcake covered in white cream cheese icing and then topped off with  hardened dark chocolate with a  red flower was added for the blood effect. 

The Gifts
To keep with the dark theme, the presents were wrapped using the pages of his books and the rugged black ribbon to highlight the darkness in the passageway.  As an added bonus, Brian was given  5 presents each representing some of his favorite things and tying in with the 50th theme.

Shopper's Corner:
Clear vases - TJ Maxx
Blocked letters - Jo Ann's Craft store

Sunday, March 3, 2013

St Patrick's Day Tablescape

 I  like to combine expensive and inexpensive items that add panache to the table.  My goal is to show that you can find things around the house that can be applied for special occasion.  
For this St Patrick's Day event,   I want to emphasize the story of  the greenness of Ireland and the abundant leaf shamrocks.  You'll see the magic numbers of 3's (3 candleholders, coins, silverware) and 4's (plates, wineglasses, moss) for extra good luck charm. 
I start out with a color scheme and then I try to tell a story.  So, I start with  an inventory of  what I have around the house.  My husband thinks I'm a pack rat because I keep almost everything I've used ( just in case...).   I come from a large family ( and still growing), and there's always something to celebrate. The expenses mount up if you have to purchase all the decorations from scratch. I would rather spend on food and gifts.   So, I've learned to recycle.

 If I don't have enough to meet the color scheme I create them or  try to go to discount stores, or  fabric stores to find as enhancements to complete the storyline.   My goal is to create something simple, affordable and yet elegant.

 I like to create  harmony of colors.  So to balance the greenness, I'm infusing gold (to represent a golden opportunity to see a leprechaun, who supposedly could lead you to a pot of gold) and white (to represent the purity of St. Patrick who converted Ireland into Christianity). 

The centerpiece brings the feel of an inside garden. I like to create the feel of stepping into a forest full of clovers, lichens and mosses. The tablecloth is a pastel green (denotes a ground cover).  The green stems of the wine glass (purchased a few years ago)  are like little trees surrounding the forest grounds.

The plates were a wedding present (see Valentine's Day Table Setting Day 5).  

The 3 clear vases and  vinyl boxwood were used for a bridal shower last Spring  and the silk moss (inside the vases)  were from an April Baby Shower.  The 2 short candles were purchased from the dollar store during the holidays. 

 Here's the fun part, the sparkly shamrock glued on the candle is from a garland from the dollar store.

The green platter is a birthday present (to symbolize a body of green water).  Here, I want to establish how the shamrocks  grow with a bit of water (like everything else, we all grow given a little bit of love). 
   Inside the vase, I put moss on the bottom and dropped some shamrock as if they are growing around the moss.

The gold shamrock was a gift to my husband's late grandparents on their 50th anniversary.  It is framed on top of our front door as a lucky charm.  We hope that whoever enters and leaves our home stays in love for that many years.

The see-thru  golden lantern is a Christmas ornament.  I added my shamrock pin on top as an effect.  The lantern is to indicate a little light  will lead one to finding gold amidst the forest. On, a philosophical note, it's like "given a little guidance in life gives one a brighter outlook in life".  

Gold (plastic coins)  found  amongst the moss 

 To add a little color to the place setting, I've added a green napkin intertwined with the white napkin.  The napkin holders are homemade and used for other occasions (this is one of my versatile napkins) .  For this St. Patrick's Day event, I used green leaves and added 3 green beads in the middle and glued a glittery shamrock.

I like to capture the idea of luck and wishes. We have these commemorative $1 gold coins used as part of a  dinner conversation/game.   As my family sits down, they are to pick up one coin at a time and make a wish throughout dinner time.  

To add a twist to the place setting, I placed the silverware inside the napkins.

Buffett Table

I like extending the color scheme to the food area.    I also like using heights to nicely display the food.  In this case,  monochromatic colors do very well.   I found different shades of green I had forgotten I had:  vase, a pot and ice cream soda glass . 

See also St. Patrick's Day Dinner Ideas

For more holiday tablescape see tab on top - Tablescapes  
See also: Valentine's Day Tablescape Day 1 to Day 5

Shopper's Corner:
TJ Maxx - center green bowl
TJ Maxx - 3 clear vases

Saturday, March 2, 2013

St Patrick's Day Dinner Ideas

St. Patrick's Day - Dinner Menu
See also St. Patrick's Day Tablescape

This St Patrick's dinner is hearty and healthy! 
Dinner Menu
Green Potage (a vegetable soup)
Irish Soda Bread
Almost Irish Beef Stew

Irish Soda Bread served with a cabbage garnish
Almost Irish Beef Stew (minus the peas/cabbage) -  Fresh from the oven.

Dessert Menu
My family loves dessert. These desserts are perfect for St. Patrick's Day!  I often make a couple types of dessert to savor for a few days.
Grasshopper Pie (without the liqueur) 
Lucky Charms Treat
Marbled Vanilla Cake
My easy version of Grasshopper PieThis is made with Mint Chocolate Ice Cream mixed with some Oreos.   I made the crust with a combination of mint and regular Oreos.

Lucky Charms (cereal) Treat molded  and cut in shamrock shape by using a Wilton Cookie Cutter.  

Marbled Vanilla  Cake  decorated with  sparkling sugar and various sizes shamrock (made of white chocolate and butter) .

I tinted the white batter with green and made a swirl  to create a marbled effect.



Friday, March 1, 2013

Mint Oreo Ice Cream Pie

Mint Oreo Ice Cream Pie 

1 box (1.5 Quart) of Mint Ice Cream (softened at room temp for at least 8 minutes)
1 chocolate crumb crust ( or see below for my  crust recipe)
5  regular Oreos cookies
5 mint Oreos cookies
1 cup any chocolate bar, coarsely broken

  • In a medium size bowl, combine the ice cream and cookies .
  •  Spread the mixture  into crust. 
  • Fold  chocolate bars and sprinkle on top with coarse cookies.
  • Freeze until firm.  
  • Thaw for at least 5-10 minutes before serving.
Note:  If you want it to be more chocolatey, top it with a chocolate sauce before serving.

My Special Crumb Crust Recipe
15 regular Oreo Cookies
15 mint Oreo Cookies
3 Tablespoon sweet butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat at 350 degrees.

  • Put the cookies in a food processor until finely ground.
  • Combine the crumbs, butter, and  vanilla in a medium bowl and stir until all are moistened.
  • Press the mixture evely across the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate.  Make sure its evenly pressed and compacted.
  • Bake the crust until crispy for at least 8 minutes.  Let it cool before filling it with the ice cream mix.