Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hanukkah/Chanukah 2009 - Some Different Menorahs

Someone recently saw this Italian tole candelabra hanging over the fireplace in my kitchen, and commented "nice menorah!" And I thought, yeah, it would be a beautiful menorah to celebrate Hanukkah!
An Italian tole candelabra styling itself as a menorah!

The first post Thanksgiving holiday coming up is Hanukkah, falling at sunset on December 11, and going until sunset December 19.
Once upon a time I was married to a nice Jewish boy. Though he was not religious, we had a menorah and a Christmas tree. Well not a proper menorah. After all I was a shiksa - I lined up nine candle holders in a menorah-like grouping.

Nine in a row - hand forged recycled iron menorah from ABC Home

You may already have a menorah, but sometimes it's fun to change things and maybe use things you already have. I chose these for Joni from Cote de Texas last year HERE

If you have nine candlesticks or candle holders, just gather them up for a menorah grouping. Any nine candles are allowed as explained at
So nine votive candles in their holders grouped in line like a menorah would work.
I love these votive holders by Alvar Aalto which you can get HERE. They come in several beautiful colors, and I don''t know if I would choose all the colors, or perhaps nine of the beautiful blue one called blueberry,

I also love this bronze sculpture with nine glass candle holders. I think it would make a striking and lovely menorah. The organic vine and leaf motif is so pretty. Get it HERE

Or use a kicky new style like the pink menorah from ABC Home.
It also comes in red and black - I love the bling!

You can also go shopping with nice Jewish boy Jonathan Adler HERE
He has a great menorah roundup.

I also saw this precious flower mezuzah HERE, which would make a wonderful Hanukkah gift.
Looking forward to seeing how you all celebrate and decorate for Hanukkah!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Who's Your Little Fuzz Butt?

What do you serve your pet's food in? Fine china? Crystal like in a Fancy Feast commercial? Do you match your dog dish to your decor? Your cat bowl to your color scheme?
Here's a little pet dish roundup. Maybe there's something you'd like to get for the adorable one in your life.

Buy Fuzz Butt HERE

I got these for Cholo three years ago at Target.
They don't have them anymore but they have others

Buy Psycho Kitty HERE

from These Creatures

Get this at Bloomingdales

Jonathan Adler

e-mail me your photo with your pet and his/her bowl and I'll do little post

Friday, November 27, 2009

Shop Friendly

Several bloggers sell things they make or find. Now's the time to spread some love around amongst ourselves. So shop friendly, and buy a little something from these bloggers.

1. Super talented artist Patricia van Essche of PVE Design does a custom illustration of something or someone or somewhere important to you. She can turn the illustration into notecards, as well as a frame worthy work of art. Shop PVE HERE

2. Meg from Pigtown Design is a connoisseur of vintage and antique objects. She hand picks some lovely things like this well priced set of fish knives and forks which you can purchase HERE

3. Jennifer from Made by Girl has some great framed graphics, such as this Love Alphabet - it would be so sweet in a child's room. Go to her on line shop HERE

4. Fifi Flowers has a huge selection of notecards and art. It is so hard to find really special Holiday cards, but Fifi has several boxed sets to choose from. Shop Fifi HERE

5. Eddie Ross reigns supreme in all things to do with the home. His early years with Martha Stewart honed his talent, and I do believe he out-Marthas Martha! His on line shop has a great collection of vintage pieces he lovingly hand picks. I especially love this pair of glass compotes! Go HERE for some fabulous Eddie Ross finds!

6. Anne Harwell, the beloved blogger Annechovie has made some of the most identifiable iconic images known to decor mavens everywhere. Her Christmas cards are just the card anyone with style would love to send or attach to that special gift. You still have time to get your cards, or a wonderful piece of art for our home HERE

If I've missed any of my bloginista chums who sell things on line, please drop me an e-mail, and I'll include you in another post.

And do send all forms of holiday greetings, and please try to send real cards in the actual mail.
Last year I did a card exchange. I love to get Holiday cards! And I love to send them! So if you'd like a holiday card from me please e-mail me your address.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mrs. O Sets The Table

Here's a little something to look at and read about while you're waiting for the turkey to cook.

While Michelle Obama is the brains behind it all, there is an official White House florist to execute her ideas. That honor has been bestowed upon Laura Dowling.
The White House scrambled to say “yes indeed, Laura Dowling began quietly working at the mansion last week. Apparently, the Parisian trained Alexandria, Virginia florist was the front-runner for the prestigious position, after trying out with two other designers.
I would love to know what the try-out involved and who the other two designers were. Laura has a blog, but she hasn't posted since September. I guess she's been busy.

Laura Dowling White House Floral Designer

Visit her blog and her web site

Paris will not be the focus of Dowling’s first big gig. Rather, food, flowers and guest list will be India-inspired for a state dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Nov. 24. On a technicality, the event will be called a “state dinner”, even though the largely-symbolic title of president of India belongs to Pratibha Devisingh Patil.

Laura's advice for designing an event:

- Choose an earth-friendly theme — such as a garden-style party, a woodlands fĂȘte, or a seaside soiree.

- Celebrate your event outdoors. That’s a challenge out of season but we will adapt.

- Select a color scheme that incorporates earthy shades of green and brown. Punctuate with bright colors of early spring. This is not the strategy in the photos, where monotone pales are gorgeous. We forgive.

- Choose linens made of natural fibers, avoiding plastic or disposable items that crate waste.

- Fine vintage items at the flea market or thrift store for sustainable reuse.

- Make your own centerpieces and decorations using locally grown, sustainable materials, including a wtreath made out of vegetables, an herbal topiary tree, or green bouquets set in natural containers of leaves, moss and twigs.

Hours before guests arrived and in keeping with tradition, Mrs. Obama previewed the glamorous table settings in the State Dining Room. That's often the venue for such dinners, but not this time.

Preview in the State Dining Room

Instead, in an effort to show Singh how much the U.S. values relations with his country, the Obamas decided to serve dinner in a huge white tent on the South Lawn, with views of the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial through clear panels.

It wasn't your everyday tent: This one had chandeliers suspended from the ceiling and beige carpet on the floor.

President Barack Obama, in his dinner toast, said the setting conjured images of India, where special events are "often celebrated under the cover of a beautiful tent." Singh, in turn, told the president he was overwhelmed by the Obamas' hospitality and said the president's election last year had been an inspiration to millions of Indians.

Guests were seated 10 apiece at round tables (there were 338 for dinner) draped in green apple-colored cloths and napkins, offset by the sparkle of gold-colored flatware and china, including service and dinner plates from the Eisenhower, Clinton and George W. Bush settings.

Floral arrangements of hydrangeas, roses and sweet peas in plum, purple and fuschia evoked India's state bird. Magnolia branches native to both India and the U.S. adorned the tent's inside walls, along with ivy and nandina foliage.

Mrs. Obama brought in award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit, a Scandinavian restaurant in New York City, to help White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford and her staff prepare the largely vegetarian meal. Singh is a vegetarian.

Samuelsson said being chosen to help whip up dinner was both "overwhelming and humbling."

The culinary offerings included potato and eggplant salad, arugula from the White House garden, red lentil soup and roasted potato dumplings or green curry prawns. Pumpkin pie tart and pear tatin were for dessert; the pears were poached in honey from the White House beehive.

The Obamas want this dinner to make a statement at home and around the globe.

An official at the White House said, "Well, I think this is their first State Dinner, so they are inviting the world into their home by way of the Prime Minister of India and it really is the time to put that outstretch hand of America here at home," Schwartz said.

"The Obamas have been traveling quite a lot this first year, which is very exciting. It's good for America. It's good to be involved. But this is the first time these honors are given here at home. The people's house right behind me," she added.

"Is it customary to honor the guest of honor - in this case the Indian Prime Minister - with the food or in another way?"

"Absolutely. What happens, about two months before now, one of the delegation members have come over from India, they sit down, they talk about the likes and dislikes of the Prime Minister and the spouse and any food allergies. In this case the Prime Minister is a vegetarian."

"And then the White House wants to highlight the best of America," she continued. "So they're bringing Marcus Samuelsson into work with the White House chef, Christina Comberford, who is fabulous in her own right and she still will oversee the entire dinner. But Marcus Samuelsson will definitely add a little zing."

The Obamas chose from the White House's historic china collection to set the tables for their first state dinner.

Selections include:
Service Plates: Castleton China, New Castle, Pa., (Eisenhower administration, 1955)
Service Plates: Lenox, Trenton, N.J. (Clinton administraion, 2000)
Dinner Plates: Lenox, Kinston, N.C. (Geroge W. Bush administration, gift of the White House Acquisition Trust, 2008-2009)

I gleaned all these photos and tidbits from various news web sites, the best being CBS News HERE

Once upon a time when I was about Laura Dowling's age, I had the honor of doing flowers for another First Lady. We were both alot younger then.
You can read about it HERE.

And of course, a very Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from Alberto, Cholo, and the Visual Vamp.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Do You Know How To Set The Table?

Of course you know how to set the table! It's one the first chores we learn to do as little children.
Holiday time calls for something more special than our day to day setting the table.
Here's how I do it, using mostly what I have on hand somewhere in the house. I say somewhere, because it's fun to pull things together that you normally don't use.

1. The bare table - mine is a rescue from the trash,
A very heavy iron table with beautiful scroll legs -

The top is beautifully rusted, but it has a big hole, so a glass top was added

I have set the table for thousands. That's because I was an event designer for many, many years. I love to entertain at home, even after all those years of making parties for other people. I have a good collection of everything to work with.
This year our Thanksgiving gathering is small, so we are eating in the kitchen, and I'm setting the table for four.

2. Choose your tablecloth -I chose a Lee Joffa fabric memo

I have a good collection of linens, tablecloths and placemats, but I wanted to use something different. I collect fabric remnants. Even before I worked at perch., I would ask interior design shops if they were getting rid of any of their fabric memos (a memo is a sample), and often they would give me a bagful. So ask your local shops. They're useful for many things, including an oversize place mat that everyone shares.

3. Choose your largest element and place it first-
in this case it's the antler used as a centerpiece

I love fresh cut flowers as well as anyone. But I also like to use non floral objects as a centerpiece. In this case Thanksgiving calls to mind the pilgrims hunting and gathering, so I'm using this huge metal antler I have. The organic shape also looks like a branch.

I gather all my elements in one place. For this table I have chosen animal motif china, white ceramic Italian chargers, brown napkins, vintage flatware and glasses, some faux pumpkins, feathers, and some little animals.

4. Gather all your elements in one staging area

The next thing to go on the table are the white chargers. I like how they pop on the orange color of the table mat. If you don't have chargers you can use your largest plate, usually the dinner plate, used as an underplate.

5. Place an underplate for each person -
you can use a charger or your largest size dinner plate

I'm using the point of the mat as a reference for each person's setting

The dinner plate goes on top of the charger. If you are using a dinner plate as an underplate, use the next size smaller plate, usually a luncheon or salad plate on top of this. You can mix and match patterns and colors, or you can use the same pattern for everything. It just depends on what you have to use. I have at least three different sets of plates I use as the season dictates. I love the black and white animal print for Fall.

6. Place the dinner plate on top of the charger

Glassware is next. I am just using one glass per person because the table is small. It's a tall vintage glass, that's all purpose. Any beverage will look fantastic in this glass. If you have room on your table you can use two wine glasses (only if your are serving two different wines, otherwise one will do), and a water glass.

7. Add the glasses

After the glasses comes the flatware. I use one set of flatware for everything, everyday, including holidays and dinner parties. It's vintage, nearly 100 year old silverplate.

I know there are rules about on which side of the plate the silverware is supposed to go, but I place mine where I think it looks visually pleasing. I generally place the fork tines down, an old European custom. Like a knife edge facing in, fork tines place down are considered a sign of hospitality. To place them otherwise signified a threatening gesture.

How did your parents teach to place the silverware?

8. Place the silverware and the napkin

Now for the napkin. Use cloth. I chose a dark brown linen napkin. I tied it with some black and white gross grain ribbon. No big bow, no big pouffe. I turned the tied ribbon side down to show a wide band of the ribbon. I tucked in a short peacock feather for fun, and color. I place the napkin on the side of the plate without silverware. You could place it on the plate, but these plates are so pretty, I like them to be seen. Just don't tuck the napkin into a glass.

I decided to add a vertical element. Usually I add a small bouquet of flowers. But for this Thanksgiving table I am using a bouquet of Turkey feathers in an earthenware pot.

9. Add a vertical element if your centerpiece is already low -
A centerpiece can have many elements at different heights, including candles

I'm still adding to the centerpiece, this time a little whimsy. I found these three little animals and tucked a faux autumn leaf in each one of their collars. I'll probably add votive candles on Thanksgiving because we are dining at 4 P.M.

Okay I can't resist putting something on the plate! Oh yeah I have those faux mini pumkins!
Just the right finishing touch! I'll write each person's name on them as a place card.

10. Add your finishing touches

The empty staging area, is a bakers rack I now use as a serving area. I found another fabric remnant, a crazy cute print with Frieda Kahlo on it, and lots of critters and leaves and color. She kind of looks like Pocahontas. I fold it to make a little mat.

I use white ironstone platters and bowls, and oversize silverplate serving utensils.

While we are all preparing dinner today and tomorrow, and setting our tables, and sharing dinner with loved ones, let's remember one another and be thankful for the excellent company we keep with each other via our blogs, letters, and comments.
I will certainly drink a toast to all of you, and say a little prayer of thanksgiving for having you all in my life.