Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Valentine's Day Tablescape Crafts

My latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens arrived last week and I've finally had a chance to browse through the pages. They had some great Valentine's Day ideas in the magazine and even more wonderful Valentine's day crafts, treats, and decor ideas on line. I loved them so much that I thought that I'd pass some of my favorites along. ~ Shana
I just adore the above wreath. This would make a great family project for a cold winter weekend day. I especially love how they've hung this wreath over the side of a dinner chair. The only thing better than one of these hung over a chair would be a wreath hung over each of the chairs at your tablescape.

And, how cute is the above? A bouquet of lollipop heart treats! Just line a few cups filled with these unique Valentine's day treats down the center of your table. After your event, guests can then walk away with these adorable, and tasty, items as favors.

I love the use of colors in this tablescape. It is fun and romantic at the same time. The fluorescent pinks and reds mixed with the yellow roses are certainly nontraditional, but at the same time so unforgettable! And the paper cones (filled with chocolates) propped in champagne glasses is another great idea!

Now, I've been known to wrap ribbon around cupcakes, but I typically ice mine. After this photo, I've realized that icing really isn't necessary! Plain powdered sugar, or even cocoa, seems to do and creates a wonderfully simple look. And there is a great benefit as well: less sugar and calories! :-) Just place a batch of the above on differing heights of cake stands and you are good to go for a centerpiece!

Looking for more fabulous finds for your Valentine's tablescape? I have more available

Friday, January 25, 2008

Fondue Birthday Party!

For those of you who guessed 'Fondue' as the answer to the question posed on my previous post, you are correct!
* * *
As promised, I'm delighted to share my husband's birthday celebration. I made him the above birthday party hat. I almost inscribed 'Birthday Boy' on the hat instead of 'Happy Birthday'. Not sure he would have liked that. :-)

I carried over the pinwheel idea from my January tablescape, but I added a little twist. Instead of making pinwheel napkin holders, I made pinwheel chairback place cards to tie around our dinner chairs. Although, once I got them on the chairs, I wished that I had made them larger - by then it was too late to turn back as I was out of coordinating paper so the above just had to do. I still think it is a fun and festive look. Especially with the green and white gingham ribbon.

Yet another view of the place card chairback ties.
Above is a full view of the tablescape. It's simplistic but festive. I absolutely love these sheer gingham tablecloths for birthday parties. I layered two different colors of these sheer cloths, yellow and lime green, atop a white polyester tablecloth. I also have a few sets of sheer napkins - I chose the yellow sheer napkins for this tablescape. And instead of purchasing some fancy floral centerpiece, I decided to use Roger's presents as the focal piece of the table.

Instead of traditional bows on the gifts, I adhered differing sizes of
pinwheels. This was a really inexpensive alternative to large pre-made bows. These, as well as other pinwheels, are available for purchase on my site.

The placesettings featured my favorite
shabby chic lace chargers, the sheer yellow napkins, with pinwheel napkin rings, and of course the fun ric rac paper party hats described earlier.

The tablescape looked a little sparse after adding the placesettings and gifts so I made a few extra
pinwheels to scatter on the table. If you'd like to replicate this fun and festive birthday tablescape, I'd recommend scattering even more pinwheels. The more the better.

Here is a close-up of the largest pinwheel.
I especially love the dots on this particular paper - so festive!

Now to a close-up on his gifts. A few years ago, I'd seen the above wrapping technique in either a Martha Stewart magazine or a Real Simple magazine article. I've always wanted to try it out and since thin (1/4" width) spools of ribbon from Michaels were on sale this week (Woohoo - Boy, did I luck out!), I thought Roger's birthday would be the perfect time to give this technique a try. I purchased white kraft paper (also from Michaels - a huge roll for like $4) and 6 colors of fun and festive ribbon (they were on sale - 3 spools, 10 yards each for $1). The technique is simple. Just tie the ribbon onto the wrapped package. I used 4 different colors on each package, 2 ribbons per color - 1 of each color tied vertically and 1 of each color tied horizontally. Make sure you always tie the end of the ribbon on what will be the bottom of the package. That way the top looks all neat and tidy - and perfect for a bow, or pinwheel. It does take quite a bit of ribbon, but the look is so much more creative than just traditional paper. Plus, the ribbon can be reused as it will easily slide off the gifts during gift opening time!

Now, I won't torture you and make you browse through my entire present-opening picture collection . So, here is the cliff notes version. I got him a fondue pot set, fondue plates, and of course the fuel to go with it. We love fondue and have always loved The Melting Pot, but not the expense. Since we like to spend time cooking, and eating, I thought this would be a great gift that we could use quite often in the future.

After all the gifts were open, it was time to move onto dinner. I had purchased all of the supplies for a complete fondue meal. To keep the table festive, I reused some of the exhisting pinwheels to scatter around our serving bowls and dress up the table a bit for our meal.
Suggestion: For your party, keep the gift opening for after the meal; that way your table remains festive the entire dinner. Of course, I couldn't do that b/c my gifts were necessary for the meal. :-)

We started out with a basic cheddar cheese fondue. (See bottom of this post for recipe.) The cheese is just beginning to melt in the above photo. We dipped cauliflower, green apples, and french bread into the very yummy melted cheese.

After we were done with the cheese fondue, we moved onto the broth (meat and veggie cooking) fondue recipe. I found a recipe for Coq Au Vin - which is a burgundy broth fondue similar to the one served at The Melting Pot. We cooked chicken, pork, beef, and shrimp in this broth. Also, very tasty. We also dipped the meat in the above sauces (on Roger's new fondue plates). Sour Cream, lemon butter, terriyaki, and garlic, lemon, pepper sauce. Oh, and I almost forget the veggies - red potatoes, broccoli, and mushrooms.

Oh yes, and if we weren't stuffed enough. I had also prepared the above dessert. Roger loves all puddings and custards so I made a layered chocolate eclair cake.
Okay, guess that was about it for his birthday celebration. If you'd like to see more photos of this tablescape and other birthday themes, please visit the birthday tablescapes area of my site. And for other creative tablescape ideas including information on how to submit your own creative ideas, click here.

Oh yes ... I've recently put together my Valentine's Day tablescape. A few tablescape ideas are already added, please check back for more soon!

Basic Cheddar Fondue

2 cups milk
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons ground dry mustard
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Dippings such as apples, cauliflower, bread

In a medium saucepan over low heat, mix together milk, worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, garlic and flour. Heat until almost boiling. Gradually stir in cheddar cheese. Continue heating until all the cheese has melted. Keep the mixture warm and melted in a fondue dish.

Coq Au Vin

2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups burgundy wine
1/2 cup diced mushrooms
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 green onions, sliced
2 cubes knorr vegetable bouillion cubes

Heat vegetable stock in fondue pot until it begins to simmer.
Add all other ingredients, bring to simmer.
Place individual pieces of desired meat or veggies on fondue fork and put in pot until correct temperature has been reached. Lobster and shrimp may take 1 minute while beef and pork will take several minutes.
Vegetables such as mushrooms, broccoli, and red potatoes can also be diced and placed into pot. Remove with spoon once tender.

Friday, January 4, 2008

January Tablescape - Birthday Themed

January Tablescape
Birthday Themed Tablescape
For more photos, please click here.

Both my husband's and my birthday fall in the month of January (We are exactly 2 weeks apart - mine being two weeks sooner than his.) And my older sister's bday is in January too! Since this is the case, I thought that January would be the perfect month to highlight a birthday themed tablescape. I always get a case of the winter doldrums in January, so I decided to incorporate bright and cheery colors into our January birthday theme. As you can see above, I chose pinks, greens, blues and a tad bit of purple to incorporate into this festive tablescape. To add a touch of "fun" to this grown-up tablescape, I built the table around items that reminded me of childhood birthday parties - pinwheels and party horns. For added texture, a threw some brightly colored yards of shimmery tulle (pink, blue, and green) over a plain white tablecloth. I also scattered colorful buttons for more texture. These little dots of blue, green, and pink really made the table pop!
I'd searched and searched for some fun pinwheels for the focal piece of my birthday tablescape. All I ran across were either too summery looking or just plain 'cheesy'. You know the type I'm talking about - shiny primary colored pinwheels of old. So, I finally gave up and decided to make my own pinwheels out of card stock paper. I then stuck several styles and shapes of these pinwheels into a tin flower urn as this added the perfect height my pinwheel centerpiece.
Once I finished with the pinwheels, I had some extra polka dot scrapbook paper so I decided to make fun placecards out of the left-overs. Just cut and fold. :-)

My fun birthday placesetting includes a colorful party horn (store bought), a cleverly folded white
napkin featuring similar buttons as scattered on the table (napkins are a Crossroads Cottage exclusive), pink shabby chic luncheon plates (the perfect size for a slice of birthday cake), and these lace shabby chic charger plates.

To view more photos of this tablescape, please click here. For an archive of birthday and other themed tablescapes, or for more information on submitting your own ideas, please click here.

Hope you enjoyed this fun and festive birthday theme! And Happy Birthday to all of my fellow January Birthday buddies! To see a list of "ingredients" to pull off a similar birthday tablescape in your home, please see below.

Tablescape Ingredients:
Shimmery Tuille- Hobby Lobby or any fabric store
Colored Buttons - Any fabric or craft store
Party Horns - Party store

Custom Pinwheels - Available at Crossroads Cottage

Fun Party/Button Napkins - A Crossroads Cottage Exclusive
Shabby Chic Luncheon Plates -
Available at Crossroads Cottage
Shabby Chic Charger Plates -
Available at Crossroads Cottage

Secrets to Success:
* If you are low on time and money, but you'd still like your tablescape to look amazing, purchase tulle at a fabric or craft store. (Yes, tulle is the stuff that ballerina skirts are typically made of, but it can be used for so much more!) They make it in lots of fun colors these days - some are even shimmery! Sewing not required. Just throw layers of this over your bare table, or for a more finished look layer these layers over a cloth from your exisisting collection. If you are using colorful tuille, a plain white cloth underneath will really make the tulle pop! Warning: As tulle is highly flammable, please keep clear of flames - including birthday candles!
* If you don't have the time to make pinwheels, but you are looking for a creative and inexpensive birthday party centerpiece, consider wrapping several different sizes of boxes in bright/colorful wrapping paper. Make a gift tower out of them by wrapping boxes with matching ribbon. Even better, if you are the gift giver, wrap your gifts and place them strategically in the center of the table to create your own fun
gift centerpiece!
Other blogs on Birthday Tablescapes:
Birthday Cookie Idea, Fondue Birthday Party