Friday, October 27, 2017

Purple Transferware Wall Display and Floral Arrangements

The purple transferware collection I have amassed is displayed in our dining room.
The latest bowl was picked up at Matthew Mead's Estate Sale last weekend, and it 
is a piece made by Wedgwood.  Quite old and it bears a few chips, it is lovely nonetheless
and for now it sits in a stand where I can admire it front and center.  It was the only piece I 
spotted and I was surprised to even find it at his sale, as I know he has a fondness for the purple
stuff himself.  His mother has a purple transferware dinner set herself, and Matthew grew up dining 
off of these pretty dishes, as I am doing now with my kids and family.  
 Since the wedding has passed, so have all of the beautiful floral arrangements, and I 
have to say I really missed having the gorgeous bouquets in our rooms.  I think flowers bring
a room to life, and I can tell you they are the number one decorating weapon for magazine and book
photo shoots.  The rooms look lifeless without them.  I found myself in Trader Joes and picked up 
 two separate bouquets that had the color purple in common. One even had a stalk of decorative kale
and pincushion flowers, and you just can't beat the price at Trader Joes.  So treat yourself and your
rooms with a bouquet and get a lift everytime you walk by....I know I do. 
 The floral arrangements for our DIY wedding were not DIY, but I think I could have 
made a good effort if I had needed to do so.  Either way, the table was lifeless without the flowers, and when I saw these pics I snapped the morning of the wedding. They were loaded in my camera
and I haven't seen them since.  I think the tables looked so pretty.  

So don't forget to treat yourself to some flowers, whether its the 
supermarket or a florist or your own backyard.
Heading into the weekend with this "tip".  
Get flowers. Enjoy. Relax. 

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Simple Pleasures of Life

 Autumn has arrived in New England, but its the warmest I can remember.
With the courtyard wedding in the rear view mirror, we are now enjoying the normal pace of regular days around here.  We have decided to put less furniture back into this courtyard after seeing how spacious it felt with everything pulled out.  After adding the outdoor wicker grouping we decided that  it looked best with less stuff.  I think in general, less stuff looks better,
 but I don't always follow that rule.  
 Everything looks so pretty, but soon the mums and cabbages will die off.  I picked up a hundred pink Darwin tulips to plant in this cabbage bed, and can imagine how nice it will look in the spring.  Last year I was too busy to plant any bulbs, and I did regret not making the time to do so.  
My days are spent oftentimes with Reeve, and I had a hankering for this style carriage to take her on long walks. Nowadays the three wheel carriages are quite popular, but I just didn't think it gave a smooth ride when I tried out the one Reeve had, which makes sense for city living.  I can recall these big white wheels on a Perego carriage that I had for my boys, and when I looked around recently on Craigslist I didn't find any....but when I mentioned it on Instagram, an old high school friend of Reeve's dad said her mom had one that I could have....and just like that we are riding in style.  I LOVE this carriage, its an Emmaljunga stroller and its just wonderful.  Reeve loves taking a walk, and so does Piper, as it turns out.  Colby is too strong to take for a leisurely walk with me, Reeve and the stroller. Colby has taken to going to work with his dad, leaving me and Piper and somedays, Reeve.  
 Piper is almost 6 months old, and she trots along the side, never pulling or getting ahead.
  Its a dream to walk them around.  The baby conks out from the fresh air,
 and the dog and I get a little exercise.
Is she not the cutest little baby?
I am head over heels for her, and understand now what all the fuss
 is about when it comes to having your own grandchildren.  
October was filled with lots of family and friends and a few noteworthy events.
 Our friends, the Metzgers,  from Virginia came up for a weekend, and we hadn't seen them since we were roommates in the Chateau in France three years ago.  What spurred the trip was that my pal, style guru Matthew Mead was selling off his 25 year collection of antiques and props from his magazine business career as it was an overwhelming amount of STUFF.  (Not to worry, he kept about a third of his collection).  Janet and Bill drove up and we headed to his sale as did hundreds of others.
It was held in the warehouse where he kept all the stuff from over the years.   The same warehouse where he and I filmed videos for Wagner SprayTech company.  Lines of people were there, all day long!  It took us about an hour to get inside and there was SO MUCH STUFF!  
I wasn't sure what I was looking for, and I have to say the stuff I found kind of found me.
 Copper molds, pink lustreware, pink and purple Christmas decorations,
 old pink baby plate, purple glassware and transfer ware, and other odds and ends. 
I found a pink Nantucket style basket that he had painted for some magazine layout, old Bristol glass, and even a white opaline wineglass, which is rarer than I can even explain.
Matthew is still in the business, as many have asked is he retiring? 
 No, he is simplifying!!
I can relate. But I do have a plan for this pink and purple Christmas stuff, and just imagine some of
it on a white Christmas tree.  Which is going to happen.  But I digress... So while Bill and Janet were visiting we decided to take them out to a very special restaurant in Boston, North Square Oyster. 

 It is in Boston's North End, and has been taking the restaurant scene by storm.  In fact it just landed the cover of Boston Magazine's restaurant issue of the City's Top 25 New Restaurants!! And why does this thrill me?  Because it is where my son, Justin Power, works as the designer and managing partner.  That meal on the cover is the Lobster and Oxtail Bolognese, which is what both my hubs and Janet's husband ordered for dinner.  Of course we started with an oyster assortment and they were the BEST I have ever had....I highly recommend this spot if you want delicious food and drink with a great atmosphere in the heart of a historic neighborhood.
As a matter of fact, here we are standing in front of Paul Revere's house, which is the next door neighbor to North Square Oyster!  Seriously.  Paul Revere walked through that door. 
 This amazing local history, is right under our noses!
A fun night in the city for me and Mr. Maison Decor, which was so nice to share with friends.  
Another big night we enjoyed this month with our family was my dad's 88th Birthday.
 Those of us that live nearby came together and we celebrated.
  Our kids, a few of my siblings and both my parents along with me and hubs 
made for another night to put in the memory books.
These are special times that come along once in a while....
but most days its the simple pleasures like caring for a granddaughter.
 Little Reeve is a happy little girl with a blossoming personality.  
 My other baby, Piper has stolen my heart as well.  I am thrilled with the new additions to our family. Looking forward to gardening for the upcoming Spring, and making yummy dishes that the cold weather brings.  My parents have returned to their home in Florida, escaping the cold New England winters.  Still hoping for a nice fall so I can continue to walk my pair of babies.
It makes the three of us pretty happy.  
And thats what life is all about. 

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Live Event Artist Captures Romantic Wedding: Part 3

Pure Romance.
It was the moment no one expected. 
 It captured us all with its sweeping gesture of old fashioned chivalry, 
something straight out of a romance novel.
The groom swept the bride off her feet after they were pronounced husband and wife. 
He carried her down the stone steps into the wedding tent to present his new bride.
Its moments like those that we can't get enough of, in real life.
And it was just that moment that will now be captured forever on 
canvas by Sheila Foley, the wonderfully talented live event artist.
Have you ever heard of live event painting?
  I had not until recently, when I spotted Sheila's work on Facebook and Instagram
I was enchanted by her paintings.
The entire idea of it!  
It struck me during the wedding planning that hiring Sheila
would be PERFECT for capturing this wedding.  I love original art, and I was
amazed at the romantic impressionistic essence of her paintings of weddings,
 as they unfolded.... LIVE!
Sheila arrives ahead of time to see the wedding site, and at that time we briefly discussed 
ideas for the painting.  I gave her "carte blanche" to paint something she saw fit.  She said that was rare, that most often brides or the one commissioning the painting has something specific predetermined in their minds that they want to have painted.
 I think that the way to get the best out of an artist is to let them express their vision, and you won't be disappointed.  I know from my own experience that painting things for myself are often superior than the things I must paint on command, because the inspiration and artwork is guided instead of natural.
 Often times Sheila is painting at an event in a grand ballroom, and the architecture adds
a lot to her paintings, and yet our wedding was in a tiny tent.  I set her painting station up to afford her the best view of the ceremony, the tent, and the guests.  She arrived two hours early to start the 
background and the tent part of the painting.  Sheila will capture guests and moments on her iPad and then refer to it as she paints.  It was the most marvelous thing, to have an artist painting as
if she were just a fly on the wall.  The guests would come and look and then go back to their tables and it was fun to see the painting progress throughout the night.  While our wedding was all about keeping costs down, this was my one big splurge!  And you can see what she decided to paint
for capturing the essence of the wedding~that grand romantic gesture of Brandon sweeping Mimi off of her feet!  I cannot wait to see the finished painting.  Sheila takes the partially finished painting back to her studio and will work on it to add the guests and fine tune the details.
This is a closeup of a groom sweeping his bride off her feet during a dance,
and it was my favorite painting that I saw on her website.  This shot is from Sheila's 
website as I viewed it from my phone.
Sheila told me it was her favorite too! So I knew we were on the same page, and
now our family will have a painting by this amazing artist that recalls a moment
captured in time.  Fleshed out in the painting will be the faces of those who we were 
fortunate to have around the table with us, as Sheila actually paints the guests to look
like themselves!! That is truly amazing to me, as painting people is very difficult.
The painting takes shape, and this is the last I saw of her progress.  Stay tuned for the finished portrait of the wedding, I will be sharing that for sure.  Sheila Foley is in high demand, and I think its wonderful that people are recognizing the specialness of what she does, and how something like this can add so much to an event you want to remember in a uniquely beautiful way.
When I last blogged about the wedding in Part II, I said I would share my splurge (the painting),
and other details from the wedding and how we went about getting the wedding of our dreams.
 There were many other special moments of course, like the cake moment. 
 Personally I find the money spent of cakes to be CRAZY, and since I
 am not a big desert person,  I wouldn't spend tons of money on a pretty cake.
  However the bride loves deserts and pretty cakes, and so the hunt was on
 to find a cake that wasn't outrageously priced.  We found it.
 This pretty little white wedding cake with buttercream frosting was made by the chefs at WholeFoods Supermarket.  
A supermarket bakery department created this cake for Mimi.
Mimi described a simple white on white cake, to be frosted in buttercream with simple dots and flowers for decoration.  
The cost?  A jaw dropping $58.  
 These beautiful and romantic elements of a wedding do not have to cost a fortune, like we 
are programmed to believe.  I set the cake on a silver tray and we had stacks of vintage gold and white cake plates for each slice.  The top layer was a chocolate cake, and the bottom layer was white cake with strawberries.  Matthew Mead captured the moment beautifully for the couple.  The bride sliced up the cake and the groom delivered it to their guests.  A charming way to serve a wedding cake, don't you agree?
Vintage gold metal heart trays were used to serve a mix of chocolates.  I found this stack of interesting tiny gold hearts, and have no idea what their purpose was, but I thought they would make nice little trays for sweets.  Matthew and Jenny Mead took a great shot of it adorned with a tiny rosebud.  All the chocolates were bulk chocolates, delicious none the less, from Costco.  Ferrero Rocher, Lindt, Roca, and other sweets filled these cute little trays and were passed out as the wedding cake was being served by the couple.
One other expenditure that was fairly modest but added a lot, was the trio of string musicians 
that we hired to perform for the cocktail hour and the ceremony.  Thankfully the rain let up, but we kept them under an umbrella just to be safe.  Find musicians like these on Craigslist, or a local music school or college and you can hire them by the hour to add a touch of elegance to your event.  What fun it would be to have musicians playing at a cocktail or dinner party!  I think we often overlook ideas that aren't super expensive, yet create a memorable feeling for the event.  Live artists and musicians can give such a "rich" experience for both the guests and the hosts. 
 Lighting is a big consideration for creating the right mood, and for an outdoor event, its easy to string lights, wrapping tree trunks and branches.  Starting at the base just ball up a string of lights and wrap the trunk and then connect another string and so on, until you have reach the upper part of the tree.  You can just wrap trunks, or you can add more, as my son Brandon did in the tree that the bride walked underneath.
This shot of my buddy Matthew Mead shows how magical the trees appear
as dusk starts to fall.  Its an inexpensive trick and just takes time to do it.
 It all added to the romantic effect we were aiming for....
The guests had departed, the wedding was officially over. 
Still wanting to linger in the magical spell cast upon us all, 
the newly weds danced in the living room with family watching,
 until the clock struck twelve.

A very romantic wedding was enjoyed by all.

Read PART ONE here Fairy Tale Wedding without the High Price
Read PART TWO here Romantic Home Wedding Dreamy Table Tips

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Romantic Home Wedding Part Two: Dreamy Table Setting Tips

Creating a romantic mood was the goal for this backyard wedding.  Our yard
is a very small space with a series of terraces, and so each space had it's own function.  The upper level with the arbor was to be the ceremony area.  Walking through the arbor would lead to the garden shed, and that is where the musicians played for the cocktail hour and the ceremony.  The bride and groom said their vows in front of the arbor with an officiant. The bride wanted a storybook  romance for the ceremony, and what better way to do that, than to sprinkle three thousand pink rose petals on a pathway leading to the arbor.  A small cabbage and mum garden had been planted for the wedding, and two large urns were flanking the "stage".  
 To make it romantic, I placed cut roses in water vials and tucked them in between the cabbage plants.  Then I draped a swath of tulle between the handles of the urns for an enchanted effect.
 Cabbages, silver leafed Dusty Miller, Roses and trailing flowering vines from an earlier summer planting (which we didn't remove) made for beautiful and inexpensive arrangements.
 We kept the arbor simple, with a draping of two rows of white tulle for extra fullness, and tied it off at the sides with the Costco satin ribbon and bunches of white roses and silver lambs ears from Walmart.  Yes, Walmart.  They have some terrific faux flowers at ridiculous prices, less than $3.00 a bunch or stem.  From a distance you couldn't tell they were faux, and they repeated the live flowers in the urns below.
 The day of the wedding we knew to expect rain, which was a bummer.  But it had to be dealt with, and with the tent to cover the dining area, we needed a large umbrella to cover the musicians, who would sit in front of the shed.  The "cocktail lounge" was our regular furniture arranged on another level, next to the tent.  If it was rainy we decided our contingency plan would be cocktails in the living room before the ceremony. 
And that is what did end up happening, as you can see from this fantastic collage photo
by our friend and photographer, Matthew Mead.  I set a self service bar up on the piano,
leaving guests to help themselves so I could greet others as they arrived,
 before we all headed out to the tent to watch the ceremony.
 Since it was a rainy day, I never got any pics of the tent from this angle, but here you can see how tight the space was for the tent.  Exactly 15'x15' it fit perfectly next to the house, and once inside the tent you would easily see the wedding ceremony because it was raised, much like going to the movies where you can see over the people in front of you.  The tiny black and white umbrella was set up because I had engaged the services of a "live event painter" to paint the event.  So these extra umbrellas were necessary, though not ideal.  However once inside the tent,  they did not take away from the prettiness of the scene. We even purchased a patio heater. because temps dropped for the wedding day to make it the most unpleasant day of the entire month!! UGH.
But as we do tend to be lucky in life, the rain stopped right before the ceremony, and although cool, it worked out well.  Above you can see the table layout and the open tent on the far end revealing the raised lawn where the arbor is located.  My pal Matthew Mead is shooting the couple in the background, as more pics were taken right after the ceremony and before dinner.  
We rented the standard white plastic folding chairs at $2 each, and then laid 2 six foot tables end to end so we were able to accommodate the most people in the space. Two tables of 14 each, which was 4 more than if I had put in four round tables.  I recommend doing a floor plan and allowing 2 feet per dining space, per chair at a table.  
(center aisle space measured 6 feet between tables)
We compromised that a bit on the ends by adding seats at the ends but it worked out fine.  Allow 2 feet per chair to pull out and tuck in, and then another 2 feet for a walkway, so we had six feet of space for the center pathway between tables, allowing for 2 feet on each table side for the chairs, and it was plenty roomy for people to get through the tent.
My favorite part of any dinner party is setting the table.  A small wedding is just like a nice party.  If you think of it that way, you won't be overwhelmed.  I had 20 vintage French napkins with pretty monograms that I wanted to use, and I filled in the remaining needed with plain white cotton flour sack kitchen towels from Walmart, sold in a bundle of 6 for just a few dollars.  They are big like the French linen napkins, often called "Lapkins" because they cover your entire lap.  You could use all flour sack towels and stencil monograms for a very pretty effect. Our color theme was basically white and gold, but we added touches of pink.  I don't like the use of a lot of color in wedding decorations, as I think it can look too strong and garish.  So skip the colored linens and go all white and add accents of color in the flowers, the votives and ribbons, as we did for our napkins.
We cut the pretty embroidered ribbon from Joann Fabrics into strips 15" long to tie around each napkin as a pretty accent.  The embroidered pattern was certainly romantic. The pink glass votives were purchased from Joann Fabrics as well, using their coupons for an added discount.
Four patterns of gold rimmed china dinner plates were mixed and matched from my collection of vintage dinnerware.  I had to buy a half dozen extra gold and white plates at the local Salvation Army Thrift Store to give me enough to set 28 places.  Thrift stores are a great place to pick up things like fancy plates for a song.  This shot was taken while we were setting the table the morning of the wedding.  Mimi hand printed place cards to let the guests know where to sit as well as to lend a formal aspect to the wedding dinner. 
We rented all the stemware from the tent rental company.  The glasses came in cases of 25 for about $11 a case.  After the wedding, no washing, just put back in the case and the tent company took them away.  This was a great thing, as we had champagne flutes, water goblets and wine glasses for each place setting. Just look at the dining tables you see on Downton Abbey, set with so many goblets....the more glasses, the richer looking the table!  Since I had 28 diners, I only needed to fill in the blanks for 3 guests, so we had the wedding couple use my Waterford glasses and our youngest son got the "mismatched" stemware.  No one was the wiser.  
For the flatware I combined my sterling service for 18 with my mother in laws service for 8, then added two services in silver-plate for a very elegant table setting.  One could easily set a table in gorgeous silver plate, found at most vintage and thrift shops for little money.  At home we use vintage silver plate services for our everyday knives, forks and spoons.  (I hate eating a nice dinner with crummy silverware.  It bugs me!)  
 Other details that made the table setting memorable, was adding special seating for the bride and groom.  You could use your own dining chairs adorned with ribbons or a fancy settee, like this one that I have in my dining room.  I added two needlepoint cushions to give it that extra dose of romance.
I painted and gilded the bench to echo their pretty wedding invitation in grey and gold.
It made for a special  focal point for the bride and groom
And at the end of the night....  
Champagne still chilling, half filled glasses abandoned, and other detritus of the night.
Love this photo and the story it tells.
A lot of little details all add up to create a night to remember.
 One of the few pics I stopped to take, as if on the outside looking in. 
 The tent was like a magical tee-pee, making for a memorable yet affordable wedding.
So much cozier than a big ballroom, it was personal and joyful being tucked inside with one another.
We created a fairy tale wedding  
and it didn't cost a fortune.  
Next time,  Part Three
  More details on getting that dreamy fairy tale look and
 the "splurge" I couldn't resist!

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