Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve at home... shopping online


I'm so uncool. I'm certain everyone I know is getting ready to count down with some Cristal (is it too passe to talk about Cristal now? I had some once and it really is divine champagne), but now that we have the kiddos, it just doesn't make much sense.

I'm trying to stay awake to have a smooch with my sweet husband and am killing time by shopping on eBay and I found this set of silverplate flatware. I'm totally in love! This lovely set would work with any china or crystal. It's a classic. Granted, it won't be cheap when you factor in the weak dollar and the shipping costs, but I would say well worth the investment. I think most people tend to think of silverplate as being tacky knock-offs sold in department stores, but this is totally different. I love that this set is vintage ... it reminds me of Sheffield or hotel silver. Dress it up or dress it down. Either way, beautiful.

Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Christmas!



What a wonderful day! Everything went beautifully and my lunch was wonderful. I served a Christamas lunch consisting of the Barefoot Contessa's holiday menu: turkey, gravy, spinach gratin and smashed sweet potatoes. Of course, being a native of Mississippi, I had to also serve cornbread dressing. Coconut cake and pecan pralines topped it all off. It couldn't have been better.

I must have been a good girl this year, as Santa brought me some wonderful gifts that he knows I love. I've compiled a list of my favorites:

1. The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners. I am crazy about these guys. The cookbook is outstanding and I've been craving it for some time. I'll try to reprint a recipe soon.

2. Juliska glassware. I know every design magaizne has been all over Juliska for the past few years, but I'm proud to say I've been collecting Juliska since 2000. I found it in a little boutique in Jackson, Mississippi and I add random pieces whenever I can.

3. Le Creuset: These Dutch ovens aren't cheap, but they are worth it. They look great on the stove. I plan on using it on New Year's Day for my black-eyed peas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Seven Steps to a Highly Successful Dinner Party


Southern Accents is another one of my favorite magazines. Its lovlies are usually beyond the reach of my pocketbook, but the nugget of this little article echoes sentiments I've been espousing for years. Several of their tips include cost-saving advice like using candlelight to gloss over any decorating deficiencies you have in your home, relying on simple folds as opposed to complex swans for napkins and mixing partial sets of china or silver by alternating every other seat with different patterns.


This is from the article:


"These days, the pull-out-all-the-stops dinner party at home is reaching the point of extinction, and oh, what a shame that would be. Sure, barbecues are fun and casual. Cocktail parties seem easier (though that's by no means a given if you do them right), and potluck takes almost no effort on your part (where's the hospitality in that?). Nothing, however, is going to make guests feel more special, more festive, more happy to know you than an occasion to sit down to an elegant table, enjoy civilized conversation, and have a decent meal when it isn't even Thanksgiving or Christmas."

Guest Favors




I recall attending a Christmas party as a child and the hostess allowed all the children to choose an ornament off of the tree as they left. It was really magical for me. I still have that ornament and I put it on my family tree every year.

Domino has a wonderful how-to on creating your own ornaments. I found the sheet of Zuber chinoiserie wallpaper on eBay and I think it would be super lush at Christmas. (Yes, I generally think toile has been done to death even though I jumped on that bandwagon a few years ago, but Zuber has been around longer than all the knock-off newcomers, so I make an exception for this). Extra ornaments could go to aquaintances, teachers and anyone else who needs a little pretty at Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Loveliest Tree Topper




I just fell in love with this vintage tree topper. It will certainly be a focal point of any Christmas entertaining you do next year. You would need tall ceilings and you couldn't leave the topper burning unattended (I would also have handy one of those groovy fire extinguishers from Home Depot), but wouldn't it be grand? Perhaps you could have a casual buffet supper and could light the topper for the blessing?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Choosing a New Calendar: A Lot Of Pressure


OK. I'm sure this sounds a little uptight, but I completely obsess about the next year's calendar every December. It's essentially an art piece since it hangs in a place where guests can see it all year long. I think this year I'm going with this calendar from kenknight.com.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Coin Silver





I really love collecting coin silver utensils. They seem like old souls and have so much character. Many come adorned with hand-chased monograms, like the spoons above. I like the idea of mixing these strays together. It's a great affordable way to use silver without breaking the bank or going the way of a complete matchy-matchy sterling flatware set.

Spoons like the ones above are plentiful on eBay. The set above has a beginning price of about $10. The forks , a separate eBay listing, are pricier (coin silver spoons are most common and other utensils tend to be a little more expensive) and have a beginning price of about $100. However, if you are spending little on the spoons, it makes sense to invest more in the forks.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More Chinese Lanterns


I just ran across this tablecloth. Wouldn't it be presh with the napkins below??

Silhouettes




The above montage of silhouettes if on the wall of my breakfast room. They are family silhouettes of my children, father, mother-in-law, uncle, aunt and myself. I think they are striking - everyone comments on them - and are especially meaningful since they are family pieces. (You will find that I love old family treasures regardless of their value. I think displaying them gives my home character and hopefully reflects something about my character).




I have been considering purchasing a cheap Ikea bench slipcovered in white canvas to put against the wall for seating. The nook is tight, and now that I found the pillow above, I think I will definitely go that way. I envision about 5 pillows propped up on the bench, creating a back, for comfort and aesthetics. Wouldn't this pillow look great there?




My question is, does that make entertaining more difficult? I would love responses from anyone who has a bench in their breakfast area. It means guests can't circulate around my round table if I use it for serving instead of seating .... but, in that case, I guess I can just remove the bench (I will have already taken away the chairs) and recenter the table for circulation. Thoughts?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wedgwood Basalt-ware: the little black dress of the butler's pantry


These plates really do something for me. I would use them year-round. I think they would add a lot of drama to any event. I think most people would use them only for Halloween (which would almost be too expected, wouldn't it?), but I could see them used for tons of other events. I haven't picked up any Wedgwood basalt-ware yet, but it's another one of my current fixations (along with the aforementioned Old Paris porcelain).


Hop on over to eBay and bid on these plates.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A lovely vase


I ran across this creamware vase on eBay. I love to see these with tulips in them.

On a side note, if I read the words "chippy" or "cottage style" on one more eBay post or antique store tag, I think I'll be sick, so I'm not going to describe this dear little vase that way... I think "shabby chic" lost its street cred about six or seven years ago when you started being able to buy repros at Target. Not that I don't love buying entertaining and home decor items at Target. I do buy there, you just need to be careful. I generally also stay away from repros of anything. Target is for modern pieces. If I want vintage, I'll buy vintage.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Buzz


OK. I know I haven't been faithful in my blogging. It's hard getting into the groove, though. These napkins recently posted on eBay inspired this post.


I find that vintage linen napkins add so much character to an event. Paper napkins are great, don't get me wrong. I've used them plenty and they are so cute these days... but napkins like these darling ones are just too cute. They take a little more time because you have to wash (and perhaps remove spots) and and press them afterwards, but it's labor that is worthwhile.
The seller of these napkins describes them as having a beehive design, but I could also see Chinese lanters. Either way, they would be just lovely with the Barefoot Contessa's pineapple margaritas at a summer gathering, wouldn't they?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Welcome


Well, I'm taking the plunge. I'm diving into the world of blogging. I've been going back and forth for weeks about whether or not I should start a blog and I just thought, "why not?"

I have titled my blog Eclectic Entertaining and I've been thinking about this topic for a while. I have no artistic or design training, but I love design, entertaining and cooking and I've always thought of them as all going together. After all, when I have a party, I want my food to be great and my house to look fabulous. It's not good enough to simply have the right invitations. When I have friends into my home, I want to offer them the best quality provisions, a unique event and a lovely environment.

As for my own aesthetic, nothing much is off limits. I shop new and old, cheap and expensive ... but mostly cheap. I'm a thirty-something stay-at-home mom of two young boys, so budget is an issue.... but you do have to know when to splurge. Mainly, I believe in finding moderation in one's life. I hate to go to a party at the home of an acquaintance only to find that everything is from a box - furniture, wine glasses, napkins, little quiches (you know the ones), everything. Conversely, nobody enjoys being around the snob who thinks antiquities are the only way to go. Just because something is old, doesn't mean it's the end-all and be-all. They made a lot of junk and ugly stuff 100 years ago also.

So I'll be posting my discoveries and observations about decorating, antiques, fads, holidays, manners, style, entertaining and recipes. I'll also post links to other blogs and web sites of places I love to visit along with photos I take on my shopping travels. I take a camera everywhere with me and I frequently take photos of things I covet, even if I can't afford them.

And don't you just love the tureen above? I just found it on eBay and am considering buying it for myself for Christmas. Old Paris porcelain is a current fascination of mine and I love picking up inexpensive stray pieces. This tureen is actually a steal at $150. Can't you picture it at Easter lunch filled with asparagus bisque? I have a recipe for asparagus bisque somewhere. I'll post it soon.