Monday, March 31, 2014

Lovely Combination: Lavender and Green

Lavender and green look lovely together.

Artists agree.
Lavender and Green  Arthur Wesley Dow, 1912,  Dayton Art Institute
The good Lord does a particularly amazing job of combining the two colors.
After the long-cold, wet winter, the crocuses in my garden are trying their best to please me with their purple hues against the still muted-green grass.

Almost universally, the combination strikes a pleasing cord. Little girls certainly love the combination.

However, in design to avoid a "princess" effect, I would advise going long on the green and short on the lavender. Here are two photos of interior designs where the combination is pleasing. In the first photo, neutrals predominate with the green accents in about a 4 to 1 ratio with the lavender.

One of the authors of Material Girls blog, Rebecca Soskin says, "The bones of the room are rather neutral but the pops of lavender and lime green give it that special edge."

This nursery chair and lavender pillows illustrates the same proportions. 

Caitlin Creer Interiors
Nobody combines lavender and green better than Phoebe Howard. She chooses a neutral background interrupted by one of the many shades of green, then accents with a lovely lavender canvas.
Phoebe Howard
In this intimate table setting she arranged, guests would focus on the smokey-green landscape, appreciating it more because of the lavender counterpoint.
Phoebe Howard
These are two of my all-time favorite images of Phoebe's work. In each case, the lavender with the mellow green is pitch perfect.

Maybe this combination is why I enjoy my a mid afternoon cup of tea out of this particular cup. Care to join me?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spring Dinner Party

Last night we had long-time friends over for dinner. Laura, a lovely, young mother is our dentist. She assumed this mantle when she took over her father's practice. Actually, our family friendship began when Laura was in high school with our son. The years have passed, and now at our table we had three generations.

Laura is married to an Irishman, and they have two adorable, freckle-faced children. Grandmother Sharon, my peer, is a multi-talented phenomenon. She is a gardner, a quilter, and a professional food stylist.  Needless to say, entertaining such a consummate "foodie" made me perseverate over the tablescape, the menu, and the presentation of each course.

You who have followed my blog for awhile know my favorite part of party planning is designing the tablescape. Usually, I let the fresh flowers in the grocery store set the stage. This week pink tulips, freesia, and miniature roses were available. Perfect for spring!
Because this was a casual multi-generational dinner party I used nubby placemats and pottery to take the formality down a notch.
(The children had perfect manners and added so much to our conversation. We were brought up-to-date on school schedules, reading expectations, and elementary school sports.)

With spring and the Irish in mind, I developed the menu the day before the party. I decided on lamb chops, buttered-parsley tiny new potatoes, and apricot-glazed carrots for my main course. With the heart of the dinner settled, the bookends easily followed. Before the meal, we sipped pear juice tinged with lime and nibbled from a cheese board with brie, an herb-infused cheese spread, and a mango-Helvita. To compliment the main course, I served spring green salad and honey oatmeal bread. At the end of the meal, we enjoyed chocolate lava cake with raspberries and ice cream. Then we all lingered over coffee or hot brewed tea. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food, especially our Irish guest.

My favorite addition to this season's entertaining is this funky vase holder. Filled with more pink tulips it complimented my tablescape. If you see one, snap it up. It makes displaying tulips so easy.

Entertaining takes effort, but deepened friendships are more than enough reward. Here's to more spring dinner parties.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

When Cometh Spring?

After our hard winter, I've changed the poetic: "Whence cometh spring?" to "When cometh spring?" This week we had a hopeful sign: an "onion snow".  According to the locals here in Pennsylvania Dutch country, an "onion snow" is a light snow which melts quickly and arrives just prior to the planting of onions. Such a dusting portends the arrival of spring.

Furthermore, local legend insists that three types of snow must arrive before spring can appear: a "sapling-bender" which is a wet, heavy snow that weighs down boughs; a "crack-stuffer" which is a dry, fine-grained snow that settles in cracks in the earth, and an "onion snow."  

In February, we certainly had the sapling-bender. 
Photo by Cindy Hummel, Lancaster Online
Then this week's snow was dry and fine-grained, 
arriving just before the farmer's wife across the river planted her onions.
The spade in the garden indicates her intention to begin spring planting.
I'd say its high time for spring!  

Here are six sure signs in the neighborhood.
The farmers are spreading liquid brown fertilizer--complete with complimentary odors.
Forsythia stems are showing a hint of yellow.
The red Japanese maple has taken on a rosy hue.
Buds are sprouting on our deciduous trees.
Birds have been refreshing their nests.
And, my crocuses and tulips are peaking out of the ground. 

God set the sun and moon in the sky to determine the seasons. So as long as they shine, spring will follow winter; it's inevitable. I don't know about you, but this year I'm praying He brings it sooner rather than later! 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Clean Spring Sweep

The change of seasons always motivates a fresh look at closets and storage. Last week I was at my daughter's home, where together we did a clean sweep of several areas. The biggest transformation came to her hearth room shelves.

On either side of the fireplace are two large shelving units. After they bought the home, the couple had   the strange drawer/shelf configuration covered with doors. (I think the black cremone bolts added a nice vertical touch.)

The doors provided a safe haven for toys which were stuffed willy-nilly onto the shelves. That wouldn't have been such a bad thing, except the cupboards need to be open for optimal electronic effectiveness. 


So, when company visited to watch a game or view a video, the chaos was on display. Hmm, my daughter thought this was a bit embarrassing. Consequently, our goal was to organize the shelving for public consumption. 


We measured the shelves and went basket shopping. Michaels was having a half price on wicker boxes and they had the number and sizes we needed. Bingo! 

What an amazing difference! Now company thinks my daughter is Wonder Woman. Truth be told, she is. :)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The French Just Have a Way

Have you ever noticed how French women just know how to throw on a scarf so it looks effortlessly elegant? Their gardens are divine and their culinary creations are unparalleled. No wonder their tableware is "magnifique".

Our middle daughter has a way of ferreting out treasures and her latest discovery is French pottery. Astier de Villate ceramics are handmade in Paris of black terra-cotta clay.

The pieces are tactile and charming. They are lightweight, but purportedly extremely durable. If they weren't so "cher" (translation--expensive), they'd be perfect for everyday tableware.  
 The milk white finish would compliment any table. And, I am in love with the raised dots and pinking-shear edges of this piece. Like snowflakes, each piece is unique. That's what makes them so special.

Each artisan stamps his or her personality into their designs. Curlicues, dents, and pointy chapeaus add whimsey to utilitarian pieces. You have to agree the ceramic cutting board would be perfect for some Camembert or Brie!

Anna got her first pieces of Astier crockery in Paris where they are made by Benoit Astier de Villatte. These charming ceramics are produced using techniques perfected before dishware was cast. 

Aren't these charming? Can't you see what an interesting table could be set using these beauties?

Now when our daughter is in New York she often stops by the shop that carries these treasures and treats herself to a piece.
You can now buy this unique table service in Chicago at  Tabula Tau, in San Francisco at Sue Fisher King and in Boston's South End at Patch NYC.

I would love to visit the flagship store on rue St. Honore in April. Paris is supposed to be splendid in the springtime!