October 12, 2016

Farmer's Day is October 12. Berry baskets
Small hay bales

Baling wire napkin rings from Ten thousand Villages, Pasadena
yellow and red napkins rolled together
red pottery barn picnic plates or yellow basketweave plates

Mismatched flatware
mason jar glasses
mason jar salt and pepper shakers

dishtowel chairbacks
Hay fabric with red and white check edging

Tractor toys
Chicken feeder planter for centerpiece
Farmer's Almanac

May 16, 2016

Happy Birthday, Maria Agnesi May 16

Happy Birthday, Maria Agnesi.
 photo IMG_3160.jpg

Maria Agnesi was born in Milan on May 16, 1718. She was the oldest of 21 children. (Oh those Catholics!) She wrote the first surviving mathematical work by a female. It was a huge two volume affair of more than one thousand pages.
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While teaching algebra, I used to give the "Maria Agnesi Award" to the female student with the highest test grade. (Boys got the Da Vinci Award.) The lucky winner got a gift certificate for one of those little individual pizzas at Pizza Hut. Actually, I wanted the chance to show off my new white dishes. They are very, very plain. I got them on sale at WSonoma. In the case of these dishes, the word "sale" is a bit of a stretch, which is why I have to wait on the soup bowls. The ones you see are old melamine bowls. Still, the new dishes made regular old spaghetti and meat sauce taste like spaghetti alla marinara y carne. (Say those last words with an Italian accent.) Add some bread sticks, antipasto, soup, caprese salad and wine. Follow up with a cannoli (from the local Italian market) and two forks. As Billy Joel would say, "I'll meet you anytime you want in our Italian restaurant."

March 3, 2016

Earth Day

 photo 258e85fb-0693-4f37-8908-6d09ef1814d3.jpg

I know what you're thinking.
 - If this is an Earth Day tablescape, where are the earth tones?
   Where are the scattered twigs, the birdies, the butterflies?
   How about a globe centerpiece or a least some potted plants?

 - Sorry! You'll find none of those.
   And I have my reasons.

Although a birthday celebration will take place here, you are looking at a table that's in keeping with the spirit of Earth Day. Every element on the table was chosen to reflect the slogan "Reuse, Recycle, and Reduce."

Let me step you through the process.

Repurpose That Tired Old Bed Sheet

 photo TableclothCloseup2.jpg

Start with an old king size sheet. Should the thought of using an old bed sheet make you squeamish, you can always boil
 photo a2fc5b68-42ff-427c-a97c-1e1c4e5fc9e4.pngit on the stove before you begin.

If you use a solid colored sheet, send it into party overdrive by adding lots of large colorful dots.

Voilà! An eco-friendly tablecloth.
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I've written a few additional thoughts on the bed sheet transformation and placed them below.

STEP 2: The Centerpiece
Picture of tablecloth and centerpiece with candles

Recycle Glass Jars and Plastic Soda Bottles

Make a centerpiece of which you can be ecologically proud.

Using the Pour-in-the-Paint-and-Swirl-It-All-Around method, give the inside of each glass jar a coat of acrylic paint.

While the bottles are drying, get to work on the flowers.
Begin by cutting the bottoms off several 2-litre soda bottles.
Click here for the complete directions.

My flowers are chunky, but there are online tutorials that explain ways to achieve a more sophisticated look.

 photo aa42fef4-5152-4c15-9c28-eee4e4f71b7d.jpg
See the vase filler? I'm still recycling those 2013 Mardi Gras beads.

Rescue What's Left of the Soda Bottles

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Cut down all those bottomless leftover bottles as shown. Glue them together, neck-to-neck.
Paint. Let dry. Drop in a taper and feel secure in the knowledge that you're helping Mother Earth.
 photo ChristmasCandle2.jpg
PICTURE OF candlestick grouping

Varying the height of the lower bottle can add interest when grouping them together.

Candlestick Source.

STEP 3: Add the Plates and Napkins
Picture of the plate with napkins and clips

Repurpose a Few Clothespins

An upscale restaurant in California's Napa Valley uses round pinch-type clothespins as napkin holders.
Why not duplicate the same look on your own dining table?
 photo 88d3d519-f7e8-4a2c-b8c3-5a5c4df7cf11.png
If you don't have any pinch type clothespins floating around, use the spring type. You can leave them naked, or give them a coat of paint.
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Speaking of clothespin napkin holders, take a look at the
St. Patrick's Pinch Me Clothespins on The Painted Apron. Darling!

Reuse Your Cloth Napkins and Everyday Dishes

Forgo those coordinated paper plates and napkins sold in the party stores. Visit your kitchen cupboard and linen closet instead.
Post-party Cleanup will find the napkins in your laundry basket, not in your trash can. When they've become so frayed that they're BTU (beyond tablescape use), you can give them a second career in your rag bag.

As for that sink of dirty dishes: Remember, there's something therapeutic about plunging your hands into warm water.
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STEP 4: Complete Pacesetting
Picture of the pacesetting with glasses and name card holder

Reduce the Demand for New Manufacturing

Get on board the Mismatched Flatware Craze.

If silver content is not important to you (and your OCD will allow it), take advantage of this design trend and rummage through the flatware bins at your local thrift shop.
It'll take several visits to assemble eight 4-piece place settings. In the meantime, mix in pieces you already own.

Reusing old discarded flatware keeps the pieces out of landfills and reduces the demand for new manufacturing.

Reuse (and reuse and reuse) Those $1 Glasses

I have an aversion to drinking out of a paper cup; but when glass drinkware collides with a brick floor, bad things happen. Consequently, I have four boxes of Dollar Tree tumblers and wine glasses reserved exclusively for patio use.

With a little bit of time and a little bit of paint, you can find yourself in the
novelty wine glass business. And all the while you'll be doing your part to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

There are steps you can take to make the paint permanent. Although I might keep these cuties (I'll have to bake them if I do.), I usually remove the painted design at the end of the evening. A good soaking and a scratchy sponge will do the trick in short order.

If you decide to apply some decoration, be careful to start your painting below the lip line.

 photo DottedGlasses.jpg
To view a few past designs sported by my Dollar Tree glasses, look below.

Recycle Those TP Rolls

A few simple folds and some paint prepares each tube for double duty:
gift box and place card holder.

What's inside?
A packet's worth of wild flower seeds.
 photo GiftBox.jpg

Complete Table>
Stage 3

Red plates: Pottery Barn, picnicware
White napkins: Christmas gift from friend
Flatware: thrift store finds and some of my old pieces
Tablecloth: Old sheet
Stemware: Dollar Tree

This marks the official ending to the tablescape portion of this post. Tutorials follow.

Flower Tutorial

1. Cut the bottoms off several plastic 2-liter soda bottles. Trim around the bumpy thingies on the bottom and shape the ends into rounded petals.
 photo BottleBottom1.jpg
I found that it helps to draw a cutting line before you begin,
as it's easy to lose sight of the contours as you cut.
Wipe off any remaining lines before you paint.
2. Drill a hole in the center of the plastic bottom.
Paint the plastic flower and the soda bottle cap.

 photo e0b53d1d-7403-457a-80fb-c0f137b4038e.jpg
3. Cut a length of wire for the stem. Bend one end into a tight spiral.
 photo WireStem.jpg
4. Insert the wire through the drilled hole and pull through until the spiral end rests up against the plastic.
Hot glue the spiral into place. Add a bead of hot glue to the back as well.
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5. Glue the cap over the wire spiral.
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6. Optional:
Twist a spiral foot for the flower to rest on.
 photo ff909c2d-be00-46ca-bc8d-94e7def91477.jpg

Back to Recycle Glass Jars and Soda Bottles

Tablecloth Notes:

The inspiration for this Giant Confetti Tablecloth came from Oh Happy Day.

The king sheet, though not long enough to completely cover the length of the table, was considerably wider than needed. After cutting off the decorative edging at the top of the sheet, its width was trimmed down to allow for an 8-inch overhang. The leftover remnant was used to add length to either end of the cloth. Raw edges received a shirttail hem.
If you decorate the sheet with paint, iron on the reverse side.

 photo BedSheetPattern.jpg
My circles are 3 inches in diameter.
Jenny, at Oh Happy Day, used a stencil for her circles. I traced around a circle pattern and filled it in with paint. My method probably doesn't produce as crisp an edge.
I started my painting on the floor, but found that the location of the last dozen or so circles was easier to determine after placing the tablecloth on the table.

Note: If you'll be painting large areas the same color, ditch the 2-oz. bottles of craft paint. Purchase sample size containers of acrylic paint ($2.99 ea.) from your local big box store.

Back to Recycle That Tired Old Bed Sheet

One Glass, Many Looks

 photo 76e894aa-f6be-4599-bde0-7a62d4d21492.jpg
The first two glasses have a paper printout glued on with Elmer's white glue. The designs were printed on glossy paper. Cutting out the design with care (no white showing around the edges) and covering the entire back surface with glue will create a decoration that looks like a sticker. The designs slide right off after a good soaking. The Believe! design was made with a paint pen.
To make the bloody wine glass, hold the glass horizontally by its stem and rotate , all the while squirting a ring of red glass paint around the outside. Sit the glass upright and let the paint dribble down.
Back to Reuse Those $1 Glasses

TP Gift Boxes

Flatten the roll. Use a bone creaser on the folds,
pressing extra firmly on the four corners.
On both sides of the flattened roll,
draw an arch at each end.
 photo TP1.jpg
Score and fold along the arch lines.
Paint or cover with colored paper.
 photo 6dc23329-a60a-4814-8943-03083b8f1c58.jpg
Back to Recycle Those TP Rolls


June 14, 2015

 photo June14IsSkunkDay.pngSkunk Day june14

Yes, you read that correctly.
It's National Skunk Day.

In honor of the day, I am resurrecting a
tablescape I did several years ago.

 photo SkunkBank.jpg

As a small child, I collected ceramic skunks. (There's no explaining that, so I'll just move on.)
 photo IMG_4340.jpg
The skunks, along with the shadow box in which they were displayed, disappeared about the time
I turned 12, when my bedroom changed from Little Girl Pink to Teenage Whatever.
I found the collection when I was cleaning out my folks' garage shortly after my mother passed away.
In truth, I'd completely forgotten that I'd ever owned them. The discovery produced a flood of memories,
and for a few minutes, I lost sight of my original task.

 photo IMG_4341.jpg

The gold-rimmed skunk plates were part of my skunk collection and hung on the wall of my bedroom. One of the plates still had the plate hanger attached to it when I went to haul the collection down from the rafters.
I suppose the bitter sweet surprise of finding them and recovering a once forgotten bit of my childhood just wouldn't allow me to toss them out. So they remained in the box in which I found them, moved from here to there and back again, but never opened until I once again set upon the task of decluttering a back bedroom closet.

The two largest skunks shown here are salt and pepper shakers (also part of the original collection).
There was a skunk bank, seen at the top of this post, and the aforementioned shadow box, which apparently went to Shadow Box Heaven long before I left for college.

I remember I had names for each one of the ceramic critters. Except for the skunk with a name tag on his tail (Phew), all the names escape me now.

The dice are from a vintage 1950's game called Skunk.
 photo 0e320824-6da3-4b3e-a1ae-1b35f6dff104.jpg

I loved playing Skunk as a kid. The game's original score pad rests beneath a vase of pink lights. My grandchildren and I play now. The game sets up fast and the rounds go quickly. Not wanting to destroy what's left of the score pad, we use xeroxed copies when we play.
The wimpy carnations came from my garden.
 photo IMG_4351.jpg

 photo PHew.jpg
I offered the skunk collection to my granddaughters. Although they were still little girls at the time, they were old enough to know that I was hoping one of them would take me up on the offer, and they were visibly uncomfortable when they turned me down. They are just as sensitive and caring today as they were back then.

In the end, Phew was the only one I kept.
I kept him because … oh … gosh … I just …
well, you know.
My heart wouldn't allow me to let him go.

Black and white salad plate: Crate and Barrel
Black dinner plates: Yard sale, originally from Marshals
Placemats and napkins: Jo-Ann Fabrics

March 4, 2015

Let's Celebrate Pi Day

Oh, I forgot.
You hate math.
If you're still reading, don't close out!

I'm making it my job to help you cross over to the nerd side and join in the celebration.

It'll be fun.

 photo OpeningPiPicture.jpg

First, you'll need to take a 30-second Refresher Course on the Value of π.
Stop your whining. This isn't going to hurt.

Pi is the relationship (or "ratio" in Mathspeak) between a circle's circumference and its diameter.
If you divide a circle's circumference by its diameter, you'll get the value of pi (3.14159…).

No matter what size circle you use (gigantic, medium, or teeny-tiny), you will always end up with 3.14159…

So . . .
Start with different size circles, wave your No. 2 pencil, and POOF, all your results will be the same.
That's a little bit like magic, don't you think?
 photo AAMagicForPiDay99.jpg

 photo CENTERPIECE600.jpg
Now, let's begin by getting you in a party mood.
We'll start with a centerpiece.

Last month's Mardi Gras beads become this month's vase filler.
A cardboard clock serves as a base. The first 12 digits of pi replace the clock's standard numerals.
When placed on the table, small pink LED lights peek through the beads. Mini pennants top it off.

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This year's Pi Day is extra special. It's not just any old Pi Day. It's . . . . .

Ultimate Pi Day!

March 14 was chosen as Pi Day because the digits we use to represent
March 14 (3/14) correspond with the first three digits of π (3.14).

In 2015, the date and time are represented by the first 10 digits of π:
3.141592653 or 3/14/15, 9:26:53 a.m. and p.m.

This only happens once a century!

Grab a party hat and a noise maker.
Get ready to use your best celebratory
voice. (Think New Year's Eve.)
 photo PartyHat33.jpg
Begin your countdown at T-10.
At the end of the table a countdown clock rests on (what else?) a pie plate. Party-goers can use it to count down the lasts seconds before Ultimate Pi. These online customizable clocks can be displayed on computer monitors, tablets, and smartphones.
 photo 6bd83261-a585-4929-b692-9eb714517dc2.jpg


Pi is an irrational number.
That means that all the digits to the right of the decimal point will never repeat in a recognizable pattern, and will continue on forever and ever, without end.

Anything that mind-boggling deserves our attention.

 photo PiCircle3.jpg

 photo 7808bcf0-df60-417f-9214-e9ad37c06b74.jpg
Each party guest finds a place at the table by locating a place card printed with a number sequence that represents his or her birthdate.

Inside the folded place card, guests will find
information concerning their number sequences
within pi's never-ending decimal.
Visit The Pi-Search Page to find the frequency and location of your particular number sequence.
 photo b738c7fb-fc7d-44c9-b5e5-9ba6ee298297.jpg

With all those digits going on forever and ever, it's no wonder mathematicians sought a way to tidy things
up a bit. About 300 years ago, the Math World settled on the use of the Greek letter π to represent this
infinitely long number.

Which brings us to the third reason you will want to celebrate Pi Day.


The symbol for pi is cool looking.
Don't roll your eyes. You know it is.
It's got way more style than symbols like ÷ and and .

On March 14, raise a glass to mathematical coolness.
 photo PiGrey.jpg

 photo PiNapkinInMug.jpg

Speaking of cool, get a load of this napkin fabric.

It drove the color scheme for this rest of the party decorations.

Cardstock circles, printed with the pi equation, were glued to the drinking straws.

 photo NancyGavel66.jpg

Pi is a transcendental number.
Wow. It's transcendental. How awesome is that!

"But what does that mean?" you ask.
Who cares? Just the sound of the word "transcendental"
is enough to establish the importance of π.

In fact, pi is so important that the House of Representatives
designated March 14 as National Pi Day in 2009.

Pi Day even has its own official website: piday.org.

 photo Placesetting.jpg Placemats are 18-inch square napkins.

Each napkin placemat is a different color.

Pi Day is also Albert Einstein's birthday (which, coincidentally, makes him a Pisces). Even though you may not fully grasp the finer points of Albert's famous equation, you've got to admit he was his own man when it came to hair styles.
If Time Magazine thought it fitting to honor Einstein as The Person of the Century, surely you can take a few minutes to whoop it up on his birthday.
 photo EinsteinHair.jpg

If .b = 1 birthday party guest . and . p = 1 party favor,
4b + 4p = good times

I chose the frisbee as a party favor because it was shaped like a circle.
However, Lee M-S left a comment on this post, pointing out that the inventor of the frisbee based the toy on baking pans from a certain Connecticut bakery. The name of the bakery? The Frisbie Pie Co.
The History Channel's "This Day in History" post for Jan. 23, as well as a New York Times article entitled "How the Frisbee Got Its Name", appears to support the comment. Thank you, Lee.
 photo PiFrisbees.jpg
An SOS pad was used to remove the logos from the tops of the frisbees.
Pi symbols, cut from black Contact paper, replace the original designs.

You can serve lots of great pi-appropriate goodies at your celebration.

Pinterest has lots of suggestions:
sweet potato pie, fruit pie, pizza pie, pot pies, apple pie juice, Boston cream pie (a cake, really), mud pie (yummy ice cream) and green salad laced with pine nuts and pineapple chunks.

We're having pizza pie. After the countdown, we'll be eating pi pies in a jar.
 photo 5da407ae-1363-4e85-ac60-9c0adf3d2b75.jpg

 photo CloseUpTable.jpg

Placemats: napkins made with fabric from Jo-Ann's Fabrics
Black dinner plates: no markings, Yard Sale
Flatware: inherited, no information
Frisbees: Big Lots
Black Contact paper: Amazon.com
Canning jar mugs: Goodman's
Napkins: fabric from Spoonflower.com, Pieces of Pi, Black
Hats and noise makers: Party City
Straws: Amazon.com
Beads: Mardi Gras 2013

This post is partying with Centerpiece Wednesday at The Style Sisters, Jenny Matlock's Alphabet Thursday, and Between Naps on the Porch.

February 16, 2015

It's Mardi Gras in NOLA!*
And almost everywhere else, it's just Tuesday.

 photo 8041c443-b44d-4229-bb46-80704ff2fd0c.png

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I live where it's just Tuesday.

And most Tuesdays come with responsibilities.

Tuesday Responsibilities extend to every member of my family, except for my baby grandson (who, come to think of it, has to keep on his own schedule too).

Mardi Gras may be a state holiday in Louisiana, but there's simply no way to carve out time for the big bash at my house.

Still, once you've taken children to New Orleans during Mardi Gras, it's hard to let it go.

* Pancake Day
In the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and Canada, the last day before the Lenten Season is known as "Pancake Day", as it is a common custom to eat pancakes on that day. Traditionally, eating pancakes helped to use up rich foods that were to be avoided for the next 40 days (fat, butter, sugar, and eggs).

PLUS ---------->
I need to
start using
all of these
souvenir beads!

 photo BEADS.jpg

Early morning seems to be the only time I can gather my family together for a little celebration.
Welcome to our Mardi Gras breakfast.
 photo WholeTable1.jpg

I never understood the reasoning back of putting something at a place setting that has no real purpose.
Consequently, I never do it.
 photo AAABEST.jpg
And here I am doing it!

I spotted the crowns (Plaster of Paris, I think.) at a yard sale and immediately thought of Mardi Gras. After purchasing all they had (3 pink ones and one black one), they got a coat of gold spray paint. I tried setting them among the beads and feathers, but they got lost.

Mardi Gras Napkin Tutorial:
Wrap beads loosely around an old dish towel and spot glue with a hot glue gun. Remove the do-dads from one of your fancier necklaces and glue to the wrapped beads. If necessary, spot glue in a few more places where the beads touch each other. Slip the bead ring off the dish towel and onto a napkin.
 photo NapkinRingPurple.jpg  photo NecklaceWithMasks.jpg

 photo AAABest2.jpg

I first used these place card holders at a Charles Dickens Christmas luncheon.
The name cards are meant to be placed above the horizontal wires, between the curlicues at the end.
One drop of hot glue transforms them into hanging NOLA street signs.

 photo c69e674b-966c-4248-9195-37fcd1c65f25.jpg The morning revelers were served King Cake Pancakes. I used a recipe found on Tablespoon.com, which is basically a Bisquick pancake with nutmeg and cinnamon.

Everyone found a small plastic baby in the middle of their stacks. Orange juice filled the wine glasses.

 photo AssemblyLine.jpg
The Kitchen Assembly Line

 photo LanternCloseUP.jpg

A cardboard and PVC pipe lantern acts as the main centerpiece. Forgoing the commonly used Bourbon Street sign, I attached a St. Charles sign to the post.
(1) When we went to New Orleans we were looking for
The Family Celebration Side of Mardi Gras.
So, we naturally avoided Bourbon Street.
2) While there, we stayed with wonderful friends who live on St. Charles.

If you're skeptical about taking children to Mardi Gras, check out this article on the Mardi Gras New Orleans site.


Dinner plates: Tabletops Unlimited, Misto-Gold, Bed, Bath and Beyond
Green salad plates: Homer Laughlin Fiestaware, Shamrock, Amazon.com
Purple bread and butter plates: Homer Laughlin, Fiestaware, Plum, Amazon.com
Stemware: Rambler Rose, Tiffin Glass Co, inherited
Flatware: Hampton Forge, Kingsley Gold, Macy's
Crowns: Yard sale - Price tags on the bottom of all four indicate Hobby Lobby ($19.99 - yikes!)
Lamp Post Place Card Holders: local shop in Glendale, CA, but they can easily be found by doing an internet search
Green napkins: fabric from Jo-Ann's Fabrics
Purple placemats: Bed, Bath and Beyond
Beads, boas, coconuts, and coins: Mardi Gras, 2013

Lamp Post Centerpiece - Some Steps

 photo Screen Shot 2015-02-14 at 6.40.10 PM.png A Google search (criteria: lamp post instructions scholastic) should produce the link shown at the left.
Click the link and you will be taken to a pdf file.

 photo 783ed025-bcfc-4ced-a2d2-6ac6aec01ada.jpg
I printed the pdf patterns at 75% and glued them to cardboard.
I only used cardboard shapes #2, #3, #4, #5, and #6.

Hot glue, black duct tape, and a 1-inch diameter piece of PVC pipe went together to create the lantern and pole.
 photo IMG_4270.jpg
A 5-way fitting is used as the base. The entire lamp post is sprayed black.
The base will be weighted down with holiday beads when the lamp post is placed on the table.
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The panes of the lantern were made from a yellow pocket folder
purchased at Staples. It's attached with double sided tape.
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This post is partying with Centerpiece Wednesday at The Style Sisters, Jenny Matlock's Alphabet Thursday, and Between Naps on the Porch.
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