Category Archives: Summer

Early Fall Bistro Style Dinner on the Front Verandah

Serving the Charcuterie-Cheese-Fruit Board Appetizer
Serving the Charcuterie-Cheese-Fruit Board Appetizer

Our fall this year has simply been fabulous. Uncharacteristically for the Island this time of the year, there have been days this fall where we were still able to dine on the front verandah and today was one of those days.  This will probably be the last “outdoors” dinner this fall. I thought you might like to take a little peek at the table.

Alfresco Dining on the Front Verandah
Alfresco Dining on the Front Verandah

Charcuterie, cheese, and fruit trays (or a combination of all three) are common for entertaining.  They are relatively quick and easy to prepare, plate well, are attractive and appetizing, and they are tasty, too.

Charcuterie, Cheese, and Fruit Starter Board
Charcuterie, Cheese, and Fruit Starter Board

These trays, or boards, can be used for a wide variety and style of events – entertaining friends at home, picnics, potlucks, and just about any kind of get-together.  You can check out a couple of picnics in which I have used combination charcuterie-cheese-fruit boards, ranging from the very simple version (click here) to the more elaborate (click here).

These kinds of boards can also be used as an appetizer or starter to a meal which is how I am using them today.  Sometimes, I’ll prepare a communal tray and set it in the middle of the table where it doubles as a centerpiece.  Other times, I’ll prepare individual boards for each guest as I have done here today.

Charcuterie, Cheese, and Fruit Boards Make Great Appetizers
Charcuterie, Cheese, and Fruit Boards Make Great Appetizers

Before I explain what is on the individual charcuterie-cheese-fruit boards, let’s construct the tablesetting design, starting with the blank canvas – the tablecloth.

Linens
Even though this table is set for a casual get-together on the front verandah, I’ve still opted to use my favorite blank canvas – the white tablecloth.  White is my “go-to” for many of my tablescapes because I like the look of clean, simple white table linen – it’s always in style and food and other elements in the setting look exceptionally good against a blank white canvas. I also think white linen lends an air of sophistication to any tablescape. The tablecloth I have used here is a vintage Irish linen cloth but any good quality white cloth or tablecloth will do…just make sure it is pressed, free of wrinkles, and doesn’t sport any stains that could suggest to guests that it has not been laundered since its last use.

White Table Linens Make the Elements of the Tablesetting Stand Out
White Table Linens Make the Elements of the Tablesetting Stand Out

I always recommend good quality dinner-size napkins be in the host’s or hostess’ linen drawer.  Just like white tablecloths, they go with anything and always look crisp and chic. I’ve kept their positioning very simple on this table, simply folding them and placing them, unobtrusively, under the forks.  This is intentional to maintain the casual ambiance of the table.

Centerpiece
I have owned the ikebana (seen in photograph below) handmade by PEI potter, Peter Jansons, of the Dunes Studio Gallery and Café in Brackley Beach for a very long time.  Peter is well-known for these ikebanas which he produces in various colors, sizes, and shapes.

Ikebana
Ikebana

Fitted with a floral frog, the ikebana is super easy to work with and an attractive contemporary-style floral arrangement is possible with any flowers and with little to no flower arranging abilities.

Contemporary Floral Design
Contemporary Floral Design

The flowers in this simple arrangement were gathered from our flower and herb beds, nothing too fussy.  There is no need to spend a fortune on flowers for centerpieces; sometimes, nothing more is needed than what can be found in one’s own backyard!

Fresh herbs, such as oregano, are great in casual floral arrangements
Fresh herbs, such as oregano, are great in casual floral arrangements

Dinnerware
For the main meal, I’m using my basic white dinnerware.  But, what I’m focusing on for this posting are the very basic, simple, small wooden breadboards for the starter course – the charcuterie/cheese boards.  Plates can, of course, be used for this part of the meal but, for presentation purposes, the wood boards lend a more casual, rustic, and interesting look to the table.  The boards I am using are inexpensive and are proportionally sized to fit within each placesetting space.

Small breadboards are ideal for individual-sized charcuterie boards
Small breadboards are ideal for individual-sized charcuterie boards

Flatware
I tend to prefer good quality basic flatware, not overdone with design.  Unless you wish to spend a lot on flatware and have multiple sets, choose a plain pattern that works equally well with casual and more formal tablesettings.

Glassware
I’ve mixed my antique water glasses with plain wine glasses.  The cut glass in the water glasses will give some sparkle to this outside tablesetting as the sun hits it.  The plain wine glasses are in keeping with the casual “bistro” style dining look I am using.  The plain wine glasses will also allow the color and clarity of the wine to show well.

Plain Wine Glasses Show Color and Clarity of Wine Best
Plain Wine Glasses Show Color and Clarity of Wine Best

Additional Accents
I have added a large water pitcher to the table. Apart from being functional, I like the design of the pitcher and it is in keeping with the casual dining look of this setting.

Starter Course
Starter Course

A box of locally-grown plums from Arlington Orchards rounds out the look of the tablesetting.  I like to include edible props in my tablescapes, especially when they are in season and are in keeping with the theme of the meal.

Plums
Plums

What’s on the Boards?
As mentioned earlier, I’ve opted to prepare separate boards for each guest in lieu of preparing one board and placing it in the middle of the table (which would also work).  The benefit of doing individual boards is that each board can be tailored to each guest’s personal food preferences or dietary needs.  For example, if one guest likes mild meats and another prefers spicier meats, their boards can be custom-prepared with that in mind.  Likewise, if someone has gluten-free requirements, there is less chance of cross-contamination if that individual’s board is prepared separately. A sign of a good host or hostess is one who is aware of guests’ dietary needs/preferences and accommodates them. This extra touch of thoughtfulness is always appreciated by guests, especially those with dietary restrictions.

Individually-prepared Charcuterie-Cheese-Fruit Boards
Individually-prepared Charcuterie-Cheese-Fruit Boards

I also think it makes each guest feel more special if they sit down at the table and have a lovely individual charcuterie/cheese board set in front of them.

Herb-infused Olive Oil
Herb-infused Olive Oil

We grow a lot of herbs and I make good use of them in multiple ways. Today, I have included them on the boards in these adorable small bottles of high quality dipping olive oil.  The herbs infuse the oil and they also add an element of interest to a simple little bottle of oil.  The small white dishes under the olive oil bottles are, of course, for the oil to allow for easy dipping of the bread.

Dill-infused Olive Oil
Dill-infused Olive Oil

I often make my baguettes in small individual sizes because they are perfect for these types of occasions.  In keeping with the rustic look, I’ve wrapped the small baguettes in pieces of jute tied with chives  and garnished with a fresh sprig of thyme. They dress up the boards!

Individual-sized Baguettes
Individual-sized Baguettes

I have opted to go with two nibbling cheeses – a good quality Havarti and a really interesting mosaic-patterned cheddar from  Ireland.  I always try to find at least one kind of unique cheese to include on my boards and this gourmet white cheddar cheese produced by Cahill’s Farm in Limerick certainly creates a statement on the board. This is a mild cheese made with Guinness-brewer porter and covered with a brown wax coating.

Cahill's Irish Porter Cheddar Cheese
Cahill’s Irish Porter Cheddar Cheese

The choice of meats for the board does not have to be exclusive.  Local delicatessens offer lots of options in this regard.  Generally, for these boards used as appetizers, include two to three kinds of meats.

Tasty Appetizer Board
Tasty Appetizer Board

Everything is in the details.  Adding a few almonds add variety, interest, color, and texture to the boards.

Colors and Textures of a Charcuterie Board
Colors and Textures of a Charcuterie Board

The black cherries contribute color and shape to the board and are a great way to finish off the starter course.

Black Cherries
Black Cherries

Wine
My wine selection for this course of the meal comes from Wheatley River, PEI.  A new meadery opened in PEI in summer 2017 and it produces several kinds of mead made with fermented honey.  You can click here to read my story on this new meadery.

Wildflower Mead from The Island Honey Wine Company in PEI
Wildflower Mead from The Island Honey Wine Company in PEI

I have chosen to pair the Island Honey Wine Company’s Wildflower Honey Mead with this starter course.

Wildflower Honey Mead
Wildflower Honey Mead

So, there you have it!  Stylish little boards that make a great starter course and are sure to be conversation pieces to the start of a leisurely bistro-style dinner. Bon Appétit!

Serving Appetizers
Serving Appetizers
Dinner on the Front Verandah

 

Pretty in Pink Summer Tablesetting

"Pretty in Pink" Tablesetting
“Pretty in Pink” Tablesetting

I love setting beautiful tables and making them season-friendly.  In our all-too-short summer season here on Prince Edward Island, I like to use fresh locally-grown flowers whenever I can. With beautiful pink flowers like those in the photo below, it’s easy to set a pretty alfresco dining table.

Multiple Floral Arrangements in Tablescape
Multiple Floral Arrangements in Tablescape

I have a collection of white milk glass and like its clean look. I find it transitions well to any season and any color of flowers.  One of the biggest advantages I find to using the white vases is that they  conceal the stems and make a cleaner-looking tabletop. When I add to my collection, I try to find pieces of the milk glass that are different shapes and sizes and, when using them in a tablesetting, I use varying sizes and shapes to add more interest to the tablescape. Taller vases add a dramatic effect and “lift” to the tabletop. Just make sure that they and the flowers are not so tall as to block guests’ views of each other as this makes tabletop conversation more difficult and gives an obstructive ambiance to the setting.

Multiple Vases in Floral Arrangement
Multiple Vases in Floral Arrangement

This setting lends itself well to the use of my vintage Grindley (England) Cream Petal dinnerware in the apple blossom pattern.

"Pretty in Pink" Summer Tablesetting
“Pretty in Pink” Summer Tablesetting (Grindley Cream Petal dinnerware)

When I am setting a table, I first decide on whether it will be a casual, informal, or formal setting. Then, I choose my dinnerware accordingly and then select linens, flowers, vases, and glassware that will complement the dishes. Pink was an obvious theme color for this setting and was derived from the pink pattern on the dinnerware.

"Pretty in Pink" Summer Tablesetting
“Pretty in Pink” Summer Tablesetting

In this case, I chose a small-checked pink tablecloth and simple ivory-colored napkins to match the off-white color in the dinnerware’s background.  Because I am using a collection of vases on the table, I need to use table linens that are fairly solid in color so they don’t distract the eye and create a chaotic look. The checks in this tablecloth were sufficiently small that they work. And, of course, it goes without saying that, regardless how casual or formal the event, the tablecloth must be ironed and all creases from any folds removed. It’s a sign of a well-set and dressed table when the linens are pressed and wrinkle-free. A casual style tablesetting does not extend to the point that the host/hostess has not taken the time to properly prepare the linens.

When using patterned dinnerware and you want to show off the pattern, choose plain colored napkins and a napkin fold that is placed on the table rather than on the plate covering up the dinnerware pattern. The napkins on this table have an embossed pattern which adds a level of texture to the table. To keep tablesettings simple for a casual dinner, use a basic napkin fold and position it under the fork(s). If you aren’t adept with fancy napkin folding, this is the easiest fold to do and it is always classy and always in style.

"Pretty in Pink" Summer Tablesetting
“Pretty in Pink” Summer Tablesetting

When using multiple bouquets as a tablescape, it’s best that they be in odd number format, versus even, as this is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye.  It’s also preferable to vary the height and size of the vases as this adds interest to the setting. The great thing about using individual vases is that they can be configured in any format on the table – i.e., spread out the length of the table as I have done here, clustered altogether in the table’s center, or they can be clustered into small individual groupings here and there along the center of the table. If spreading the vases out, I recommend placing them in an “S” shape, as shown in the photo below, to make the arrangement more interesting.

Multiple Vases in "S" Pattern in Table Center
Multiple Vases in “S” Pattern in Table Center

The main thing to keep in mind with this type of arrangement is not to overfill the vases with flowers, trying to create an entire full bouquet in each.  Keep it simple and casual by placing only one or two stems and perhaps a bit of  greenery in some (but not nesssarily all) of the vases and varying the size and variety of the flowers used.

Simplistic Floral Arrangements
Simplistic Floral Arrangements

In this arrangement, I have chosen, among others, Sweet William, Sweet Peas, Estoma Lisianthia, and cress, varying the size, shape, and color intensity of the flowers chosen. The colors range from soft white to pale pink to medium-deep pink.  By keeping the colors in the same palette and varying the color intensity just a little, it is less chaotic and more calming to the eye.  The use of vivid colors on this tabletop would have provided too much contrast and taken away from the dinnerware.  A tip to keep in mind when selecting flowers to use as single stems in vases is to ensure they have strong enough stems to stand on their own without drooping over giving the impression that they are wilting on the table.

My choice of floral varieties was deliberate because I wanted them to be the varieties that would suit vintage dishes and the flowers chosen are all ones that would have been found in old English-style gardens from long ago.  All flowers came from Island Meadow Farm in York, PEI.  Owner, Barb Jewell, grows the most amazing array of beautiful flowers and I love to pay her a visit to find some wonderful  flowers for my tablesettings. You can check out her website here. She is the florist of choice on PEI for many brides for their summer weddings and I have seen photos of weddings in which brides carried stunning bouquets that came out of Barb’s small flower shop.

You can also check out this link to another, more formal tablesetting, I did using this Cream Petal dinnerware and beautiful flowers from Island Meadow Farm.

"Sweet William"
“Sweet William”
"Estoma Lisianthia"
“Estoma Lisianthia”
"Sweet Peas"
“Sweet Peas”

When constructing a casual tablesetting, don’t hesitate to use mixed glassware as not everything has to be perfectly matched.  Here, I have used my vintage water and wine glasses and they are not a matched set. Because the dinnerware is vintage, I have chosen to use similar style glassware as opposed to sleek, contemporary stemware. Of course, the more cuts in the glass, the more sparkle and life that natural sunlight will add to the table.

Mixed vintage glassware works in casual tablesettings
Mixed vintage glassware works in casual tablesettings

As you can see from the photo below, this setting was for an alfresco dinner held on a beautiful summer day.

"Pretty in Pink" Summer Tablesetting
“Pretty in Pink” Summer Tablesetting

Even for casual tablesettings, I tend to arrange the placesettings that reflect the order of the meal to be had.  Here, the placement of the salad plate on top of the dinner plate and the addition of two forks, suggests a starter salad will precede the dinner. While it is not necessary to place the plates on the table if the meal will be plated from the kitchen, doing so sets a pretty and inviting table as guests arrive. Without the plates, I would find the placesettings to be missing something.

Grindley (England) Cream Petal Dishes (Apple Blossom Pattern)
Grindley (England) Cream Petal Dishes (Apple Blossom Pattern)
This Pretty in Pink Tablesetting uses multiple floral arrangements to create an effective tablescape for this casual summer dinner.

 

Summer Seashells Tablesetting

Summer Seashells Tablesetting
Summer Seashells Tablesetting

Weather permitting, alfresco dining makes for a pleasant dining experience. On Prince Edward Island (PEI), our season for outside dining is quite short but we make the most of it. Summer lends itself to so many tablesetting options. Living on PEI, surrounded by water, it’s easy to draw inspiration from the sea which is what I have done with today’s summer seashells tablesetting.

The color theme I have chosen is very soft and pastel – the pale blue shades to represent the sea and sky complimented by shades of beige and pale salmon pink to represent the color of the sand on the beaches and sand dunes around PEI.

Greenwich National Park
The pink sand dunes of Greenwich National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

We Islanders love our beaches! Many tourists visit our Island each summer to enjoy our miles and miles of pristine beaches – the pale salmon pink sand common to the north shore beaches in contrast to the deep rusty red shade of sand typically found on our south shore beaches. Our shores are bordered by the rich red-colored cliffs like those to the left in the photo below.

Darnley Beach, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Darnley Beach, Prince Edward Island, Canada

So, as you can see, it’s not hard for me to find inspiration for sea-themed tablesettings when I am so fortunate as to live in close proximity to such natural beauty.

Summer Seashell Tablesetting
Summer Seashell Tablesetting

I rarely use patterned table linens. I find they can be a bit tricky to work with because the pattern can be busy and somewhat limiting in terms of other decor items. My preference is to use the blank canvas of a solid-colored tablecloth and add color and design features through other elements like centerpieces, napkins, candles, and so forth. However, for a change (and a challenge), I have chosen a matching tablecloth and napkins that have a seashell theme.  They actually match quite well with my pale blue seashell dinnerware by Nantucket Home.

Summer Seashells Tablesetting
Summer Seashells Tablesetting

I would not use this patterned tablecloth for a formal setting but it is quite charming for a casual meal, particularly when we live near the water and when I am serving a seafood-themed dinner outside.

Nautical-themed Wine Bottle Holder
Nautical-themed Wine Bottle Holder

In terms of a centerpiece for a patterned tablecloth like this one, I recommend going with something very plain and simple, especially when this is a tablesetting for a casual dinner. What I have used here is a rustic wine holder which does double duty as a centerpiece and for actually holding the wine.  This is also a great idea if the table is not large – you still have something as a focal point in the table center but it does not overpower the setting. The nautical look of the wine holder compliments the sea theme and is a great conversation piece.

Summer Seashells Tablesetting
Summer Seashells Tablesetting

Folding patterned napkins when the tablecloth background is also patterned can be a challenge. Rather than using a formal napkin fold, I have simply knotted the napkins in the center and placed them over the soup/salad bowls. This keeps the look casual and also adds a bit of lift and color to the plain dishes.

Summer Seashells Tablesetting
Summer Seashells Tablesetting
Simple knotted napkin for a seashell-themed tablesetting
Simple knotted napkin for a seashell-themed tablesetting

I have kept the glassware quite simple using plain wine glasses complimented by my antique water glasses. The cutwork in these glasses sparkle in the sunlight.

Summer Seashells Tablesetting
Summer Seashells Tablesetting

Regardless whether you live near the sea or not, a seaside ambience can be created using seashell dinnerware and sea-themed table linens.

It’s pretty. It’s pastel. It’s summery and this tablesetting definitely has a distinctive romantic coastal feel.

Summer Seashells Tablesetting
Summer Seashells Tablesetting
This Summer Seashells Tablesetting draws its inspiration from the seashell dinnerware.
Summer Seashell Tablesetting
Summer Seashell Tablesetting

Now, it’s time to prepare the dinner! Curious as to what is on the menu for my PEI seafood dinner? I am serving PEI mussels steamed in Upstreet Craft Brewing’s “Rhuby Social” beer followed by my mussel chowder which I will serve with my homemade rolls. The main will be Island lobster in the shell accompanied by my yummy PEI potato salad. And, for dessert?  Homemade Blueberry Cheese Pie will be tonight’s finale! I think all of these foods will look great on this sea-inspired table!

To view photos of another of my sea-inspired tablescapes, click here.

Lady Lupine Tablesetting

Lupines
Wild lupines along a red dirt country road in Prince Edward Island, Canada

Every year in late June, the countryside in Prince Edward Island is  blooming with the wild lupines that grow in a vast array of colors.

Lupines and Pholx
Wild PEI Lupines and Summer Pholx

Lupines usher in summer on the Island as their blooms are one of the first signs of the season’s arrival. They don’t have a long season in which to bloom and they don’t last long but they range in shades of purples, pinks, white, salmon, yellow, white, and varigated.

Lupines
Varigated Lupines

Somewhere around the 20-25th of June is typically when they are in full bloom and at their best.

Lupines
Lupines

From the time I was a small child, I was in love with these tall elegant flowers. I loved to pick baskets of them and they are so easy to arrange.

Lupines
Lupines

On the south side of the Island, the deep purple tends to be the predominant color although other shades as they have on the north side are starting to take hold.  The field in the photo below is beside my mother’s house.

Lupines
A Field of PEI Lupines

About 25 years ago, I picked huge amounts of seed pods in shades of pink, shelled them (clearly I did not have enough to do at the time!) and threw them out alongside the road to the cottage.  They take a long time to take root but, every year, we have more and more bunches of them growing, albeit they are mostly in the purple shades.  From time to time, I will buy a few packages of seeds in other colors and plant them where there are none currently growing.

Lupines
Lupines

You might even find a lighthouse on PEI that is surrounded by lupines.

Victoria by the Sea Lighthouse
Victoria by the Sea Lighthouse

Today, I am featuring these glorious long-stemmed beauties in a  tablesetting. I simply clipped some of these wildflowers along the roadside by my mother’s home for a pretty casual arrangement.

Lupine Tablesetting
Lupine Tablesetting

Summer tends to mean more casual dining and it’s fun to move the dinner party outside to the front verandah or porch or the back deck.  Lupines are perfect for a casual al fresco dining event. I used small jars decorated with a bit of lace and rafia and, of course, used an odd number of jars for aesthetic purposes.

Lupine Bouquets
Lupine Bouquets

The great thing about having individual bouquets like these is that they can easily be re-positioned or clustered into different formats.  Here, I have used them equally spaced in a single row along the center of the table. No need to fuss much with arranging these flowers – they are stately enough on their own that they seem to just almost automatically fall into pleasing designs and take on a personality of their own.

When I want color to pop on my table and attention to be drawn to the tablesetting’s focal point which, in this case, would be the colorful lupines, I start with a plain white tablecloth as a blank canvas.  Colors always pop on white backgrounds and white provides a non-distracting background. I have several old white linen tablecloths that have been in the family for years and I make good use of them. I am noticing that many second-hand shops will often have some old vintage white linen tablecloths so they are available.

Lupine Bouquet
Lupine Bouquet

I can’t take credit for crafting these glass vases – they came from a local dollar store. I make great use of dollar stores and thrift/second hand shops for a lot of the props for my tablesettings. I interspersed little purple votives throughout the tablescape to coordinate with the color scheme.

Lupine Bouquet
Lupine Bouquet

The lupine napkins shown in the photo below coordinate with the lupine theme.  Knowing that, if I tried to form them into a napkin fold, I would lose the pretty lupine design, I simply laid one over each plate. That’s the beauty of using simple, crisp white plates – they form a great clean canvas for other decorative (and useful) elements of a tablesetting.

Lupine Napkins
Lupine Napkins

When dining outside, contending with the weather elements can always be a challenge and, on PEI and living near the water, summer breeze is a common factor.  Using the cutlery to hold the napkin in place does double duty: It secures the napkin and also lends a casual look and feel to the placesetting. Al fresco dining is meant to be casual so go ahead and break the rules of formal tablesettings!

While lupines grow wild on the Island, many visitors like to take home packages of the lupine seeds to plant in their gardens.  These colorful seed packages make a nice take-home gift for guests at an early summer dinner.

Lupine Placesetting
Lupine Placesetting

The sparkle and shine of glass that has lots of cuts adds to a table on a bright summer’s day. Glass will always add a light and airy look to a tablescape.

Glassware
Glassware

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into my al fresco tablesetting that features the famous lupines of Prince Edward Island.

Colorful wild lupines of Prince Edward Island, Canada, are theme for this early summer al fresco tablesetting

Lavender Tablesetting

Harvesting my small lavender crop is one of my most favorite parts of summer.  Working among the colorful and beautifully-scented flowers is a rite of summer for me.

Lavender Harvesting
Lavender Ready for Harvesting

I picked the crop this weekend and, since it was such a lovely evening, I used it for the inspiration for my al fresco dining. And, of course, my menu drew its inspiration from these edible flowers as well.

Lavender
Lavender Harvesting

I wanted to keep the tablesetting simple since the table is a small square.  So, I simply gathered together a lot of the flowers into a single stuke shape and tied it with a complimentary shade of wired burlap ribbon.

Lavender
Lavender Bouquet

A simple trim on the ends of the stems formed an even base for the bouquet to stand upright in the center of the table.

Lavender Bouquet
Centerpiece

I carried the floral and color theme through by tying small bunches of the colorful stems with an airy ribbon. These gave a pop of color and  definition to the white napkins.

Lavender
Seasonal Tablesetting

I like the clean, crisp backdrop of a white tablecloth. I often tend to  use plain white dishes because food really shows well on them. However, an all white table can be a challenge because it can sometimes look flat and lack definition.  I acquired these white dishes with a double dark rim this summer. They work well in these kinds of situations because they lend some depth and definition to a table.

Tablesetting
Placesetting
Tablesettings
Summer Tablesetting

I used my antique stemmed water glasses to add a bit of height and nostalgia to the setting.

Purple Lavender
Al Fresco Tablesetting

This was my summery Saturday evening  dining table.

Four years ago, I wrote a story on the Five Sisters of Lavender Lane in Kelly’s Cross, PEI. These ladies had a small farm and sold edible lavender.  Unfortunately, they are no longer in business but, by following this link, you can get my recipe for Lavender Honey Ice Cream which was the finale for my dinner last evening.

Ice Cream
Lavender Honey Ice Cream on a Chocolate Brownie and Drizzled with Raspberry Coulis

Is al fresco dining part of your summer?

Lavender Tablesetting
Al fresco Tablesetting

Fresh Greens and Herbs Tablesetting

Late summer is a great time for alfresco dining.  I have pulled this tablesetting together very easily by using a pot of lettuce I had growing and some tiny pots of herbs.

A simple plain pale yellow tablecloth makes a great summery canvas for this tablesetting.  You can never go wrong with basic white dinnerware and white napkins. This is my square set of dishes and the bowls make ideal holders for the little terracotta pots of herbs that I placed at each setting. The herbs add a bright touch of green and tie in with the lettuce centerpiece. Plus, the herbs can be clipped and added to the salad!

Thyme
Thyme

If you are so inclined, you can give each guest a pot of herbs to take home after your dinner party.

Basil
Basil

Floral centerpieces are not always necessary for tablesettings. In this setting, I am using a pot of lettuce and allowing each guest to cut his or her own lettuce and make individual salads. This always makes a great conversation piece and adds some fun to the event. I grow a number of these pots of lettuce over the summer and, if I am short on time or don’t have flowers for a centerpiece, I can always use the makings of the salad course as my table centerpiece!

Lettuce Centerpiece
Lettuce Centerpiece

Don’t forget to include the scissors in the centerpiece so guests can “harvest” the greens for their salads!

A simple and casual summer placesetting.

With casual alfresco dining, it’s easy to mix and match crystal pieces.

And, here’s an overhead view of the table; clean, simple lines with splashes of green for color.

I hope you have enjoyed my fresh greens and herbs tablesetting.  Is alfresco dining a part of your summer?

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“When Vintage Meets Elegance” Tablesetting

Grindley's Creampetal "Apple Blossom" China Pattern
Grindley’s Creampetal “Apple Blossom” China Pattern

Both my mother and grandmother had the Grindley Creampetal “Apple Blossom” gold-gilded pattern of china.   It was a fairly common pattern, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s.

With its cream colored background and small pink and blue flowers with green leaves, it looked very stylish on the table for special occasions.  When this china came out, I knew it was for something very special!

Today, this would be considered to be vintage tableware.  I still like to use this dinnerware on occasion.

I think vintage tableware such as this calls for a romantic centerpiece.  To find just the right flowers, I visited Island Meadow Farms in York, just minutes outside of Charlottetown.   I am totally amazed at the array of beautiful flowers grown at Island Meadow Farms.

Owner and floral designer, Barb Jewell, prepares dozens of stunning and romantic wedding bouquets over the summer and fall seasons.  It’s not hard to understand why she is the choice of many Island brides for their wedding bouquets and floral arrangements.  In addition, Island Meadow Farms also sells bouquets of cut flowers and makes floral arrangements for all occasions.

I was looking for a romantic-style centerpiece that would compliment the dishes.  In particular, I wanted old-fashioned flowers like the ones that would have been grown in flower gardens many years ago.  So, with one of my plates in hand for color-matching, I traveled to York and met with Barb Jewell to pick out the flowers and I was not disappointed in her recommendations.

Home I came with a couple of buckets of fresh flowers.

And, then the floral arranging began.

And, here is my finished product….

There are a number of flowers in this arrangement that include Estoma Lisianthia, Forget-me-Nots, Canterbury Bells, Campanula, Scabiosa, Sweet Peas, Yarrow, Cress, Boston Fern, and Scented Geranium.

With an arrangement this bountiful and beautiful, there is little need for anything else to adorn the center of the table.  I used a couple of little crystal votives on either side of the arrangement and that was it.  Doesn’t it look summery and romantic!

As you can see from the photo below, I started with a soft ivory tablecloth and matching napkins.  Tableware is presented in the order in which the meal will be served starting with the soup course.

This was followed by the salad course.

And, the plate for the entrée.

When using vintage dinnerware, I recommend keeping the glasswear of similar or complimentary style (as opposed to using contemporary water and wine glasses).  This means the glasses can have lots of cuts and design in them.

I used a very basic, simple fold for the napkin so it would not compete with, or detract from, both the dinnerware and the floral centerpiece.

And, the table is set, ready for dinner guests.

For more information on Island Meadow Farms, visit their website at http://www.islandmeadowfarms.ca/.

 

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Tea for Three Tablescape

On this beautiful warm, sunny Prince Edward Island day, I am sharing a simple tablescape for teatime with you.  I have a three-piece setting of a very old blue tea set.  It has no markings on it to tell me anything about what kind of china/porcelain it is or where it was made.  If any of you recognize the pattern/manufacturer, please do let me know.  It is very delicate and a cherished set to own.

I love both the daintily-designed teacups and their shape.  I imagine some Victorian ladies enjoying their afternoon tea with this tea set.

My choice of teapot for today’s tea setting is one that has tiny flowers of several different colors.  It is my go-to teapot for tea settings when I don’t have a teapot in the specific color of the dishes I am using.  It is a versatile teapot because it is of no particular predominant color.

We have a wonderful blue hydrangea bush that blooms prolifically at the back door of the cottage so I thought two or three of the magnificent blue blooms would make a lovely centerpiece that would compliment the tea set.

The hydrangea are actually in a small square vase even though they look like they are just lying on the table!

I felt the tea set was elegant enough on its own that it really needed no further adornment on the table other than the blue hydrangea centerpiece.

I am belatedly joining Sandi’s Teatime Tuesday event at Rose Chintz Cottage this week.

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Lovely Lilac Tablescape

I adore lilacs!  I love their scent, color, and shape.  I will admit they do have a very strong scent so I rarely bring them indoors.  So, that causes me to use them in tablescapes for Al fresco dining.  Lilacs are always something I look forward to in June.

We have a number of lilac trees and they make a wonderful backdrop for a June dinner.  In the background, you’ll notice the  red soil, characteristic of Prince Edward Island!  This field has just been planted with potatoes.

Although it doesn’t show in the photo above, there is mauve in the quilt on the chair.  Purple and all its shades, tints, and hues – yes, my favorite color!  The quilt, entirely hand-quilted, was made by my mother.

I have an old silver coffeepot that has seen better days so I have re-purposed it and it now makes a ready vase for flowing flowers such as lilacs.

Lilacs do not require a lot of arranging since nature has pretty much arranged them beautifully in bunches on the tree already!

Some day in the winter, I will look at these photos and try and remember it really was warm enough to dine Al fresco in PEI!

The old coffeepot has such lovely detail on it that it was a shame not to find another purpose for it.

I have always liked checked tableclothes.  This mauve one just seemed the perfect match for the lilacs.

When you like a color, it’s never hard to find matching accessories around the house, like the purple tealights and mauve placemats.

For the napkin, I loosely gathered the fabric, used a mauve hair elastic (yes a new one!), and inserted a lilac stem into the fold.

Lilacs don’t last long.  They are here and gone before we know it.

These are just a standard lilac, no particular variety.  Last year, I planted two French lilac trees and was surprised to see both bloom this year.

The bumblebees love the lilacs and are frequent visitors to our trees!

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Sailboat Tablescape

When you live on an Island and find yourself completely surrounded by water, it is hard not to draw inspiration from the sea for menus and table settings.  In the Summer, we watch all kinds of water sports from the front verandah of the cottage and that, of course, includes colorful sailboats.  It is from those sailboats that I drew inspiration for this summertime “Sailboat Tablescape”.

Sailboat Tablescape

 

This tablesetting works particularly well in a cottage/beachside setting.  Adding some interesting shells and starfish contribute to the sea theme.

Place Setting

I generally prefer solid-colored tablecloths but the fabric for this blue and white checked tablecloth just spoke to me as it matched the cottage color scheme and it just seemed so “summery”!

Sailboat Centerpiece

I found this wonderful little sailboat at the Wicker Emporium.  Not all centerpieces have to involve flowers and this little boat with some matching blue starfish and seashells made a great conversation piece, particularly as we looked out the window during dinner and saw one just about the same color as this one sailing down the Northumberland Strait.

Summer Sailing

 

Sailboat Napkin Fold

I like fancy napkin folds and try to match them to the theme of the tablescape.  In this case, the sailboat napkin fold fits in perfectly with my sailboat theme!  This fold always reminds of Canada Place in Vancouver, BC!

Top View of Sailboat Tablescape

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Floral Centerpieces with Michael Jackson of Prestige Floral Studio

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Of all the centerpieces found on dining room tables, the most common will likely involve flowers.  For the low-down on floral centerpieces, I sat down for a chat with Michael Jackson of Prestige Floral Studio.

 

Michael, let’s start by talking about the appropriate height of centerpieces.  What is considered to be the optimal height of a floral centerpiece?

Height of table arrangements should be approximately 10”-12”.  The flowers should not be positioned so that they are at the height of your guests’ heads as it obstructs their view of each other.  An arrangement 15” high would fall into this range.

If you are using a tall, slim pedestal container or a tall, slim glass vase and starting the floral arrangement above the 15” height point, that is okay because the tall slim container will not obstruct guests’ views of each other and the flowers will be up above their viewing range.

Does the shape of the table influence the shape/style of container and floral arrangement?

It is not set in stone but try to keep the shapes of the container and the table the same because it looks better.  If you have a round table, use a round container.  If your table is square, use a blocky, square container.  If you have a long oval table, consider using three round containers or one main centerpiece with smaller satellite arrangements along the length of the table.  If you have a long rectangular table, you may wish to consider using three to six smaller containers to extend the flowers outward from the center.

What ideas and suggestions can you give for containers a host or hostess might use for flowers?

You can invest in several different containers that can be used for different dinners.  You can also look through your cupboards and use something you already have.  For example, soup tureens make suitable containers.  Colored bottles of different sizes can be effective containers for single blooms which can then be collected into a grouping arrangement on the table to form a centerpiece.

What considerations should one address when selecting the kind of flowers to use in a tabletop arrangement?

The first is to use unscented or very lightly scented flowers.  Second, try to stay with flowers of the season.  For example, tulips make a lovely Spring arrangement but are less suitable on a Fall dining table.  Third, if you are using flowers from your own garden, make sure they are clean and bug-free and that any pollen has been removed.

Let’s talk about color of the arrangement.  What should be matched when selecting colors of flowers?  Do I match my dinnerware?  For example, my china is mainly white with a border of tiny pink and purple flowers and green leaves.

Yes, match the centerpiece color to your dinnerware.  In your example, your arrangement should mainly consist of white flowers with pink and/or purple accent flowers.

Other than a traditional floral centerpiece in the middle of the table, what other options are there for including flowers on the dining table?

Groupings (always use odd numbers) or multiple arrangements – for example, three separate arrangements on a long table.

Including small matching individual arrangements at each place setting is another way to disperse flowers around the table.  The host/hostess can then present each guest with one of the miniature arrangements to take home at the end of the dinner.

Terrariums and low glass planters are becoming a trend in table centerpieces.  They have an earthy look to them and can have thematic arrangements inside that include stones or shells, plants, driftwood, and mosses.

So, this would be suitable on a table set with earthenware dishes but perhaps not so appealing if it was set with my fine bone china with pink and purple flowers?

Correct.  Be sure to match the surroundings and dinnerware.

So, what are some other trends in table centerpieces?

In the Summer, consider citrus colors – orange, lime, and lemon.  You can add citrus fruits to the floral arrangement or place some on the table around the arrangement.

In the Fall, sunflowers, vases of chestnuts, acorns, grasses, and candles can be used singly or combined to make wonderful seasonal decorations for the dining table.

What suggestions or recommendations do you have for the host or hostess who wants to create his or her own centerpiece?

Go simple and use a single variety of flowers only – for example, use all roses instead of a mixed bouquet of flowers.  Don’t try to do stylized arrangements and worry about getting the flowers arranged just so but don’t just stick them in a vase either.  I suggest clustering the flowers together in your hand to form an appealing looking bouquet and then fitting them into an appropriate container.

Thank you, Michael, for these great tips on using flowers for dining table centerpieces.  And, thank you for the stunning Summer table setting you prepared for this interview!

 

Michael Jackson is the florist at Prestige Floral Studio located at 595 Read Drive, in Summerside, PEI.  Michael studied floral design at Humber College and worked on Toronto’s Bay Street for over 20 years designing high-end corporate and wedding floral arrangements.  The lure of family and the opportunity for a floral design business drew Michael back to his native Prince Edward Island in early 2011 when he opened Prestige Floral Studio.  You can check out some of Michael’s extraordinary floral designs by visiting his website at www.prestigefloral.ca.

 

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