Which Type of Dishware is Your Cup of Tea? (and what it says about you)

Food for thought:  Think about how many times in the course of a day, a week, a year that you look at and eat off of your dishware? Given the fact that dishware is one of the most frequently used items in your home, you’ve probably chosen a color or pattern that you’ll find appealing, day in and day out. And that’s why your selection allows a glimpse into your personality and preferences.

Gold Details

If you’ve chosen plates with gold detailing for everyday use, you believe that fabulous shouldn’t be reserved for grand fêtes. By adding a glimmer of glam to your tablescape you’re making a statement that no day need be dull, a philosophy that you put into practice in all aspects of  daily living, including setting the table.

Multicolor

No bland bowls for you:  a panoply of color in your dishware reflects your buoyant, energized personality. You’re open to new experiences and going with the flow, including using mismatched dishes, cups, and saucers that convey a wonderful whimsy.

Rich Color
Pastels? They leave you thirsting for more. You go for dramatic, rich, deep colors like dark green, aubergine, red, and ochre that are far from shy and quiet, as is your personality. Richly colored dinnerware makes a bold statement, making it the perfect choice for someone who believes that understated elegance is overrated.

Vintage

Perhaps your vintage dinnerware is a treasured heirloom from grandma or a collection of plates from a European antique shoppe. However they’ve come into your possession, your love of vintage is a reflection of a desire to surround yourself with lovely elements, meaningful mementos, and cherished items.

Floral

Floral plates are your pick for every meal and every occasion because they reflect your penchant for prettiness in all things. Floral dinnerware suggests that life should be one long tea party full of charm and laughter and the joy of being with family and friends.

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Garden Inspired Gatherings

Laughter, joy, and good times are in full bloom when you’re hosting a get-together that’s enlivened with garden beauty. Whimsical, charming, and always refreshing, a garden-inspired motif lends a certain joie de vivre to any occasion, whether you’re dining outdoors on a terrace or indoors in a light-filled great room.

To begin with, as guests arrive invite them to sit back and relax on a sofa and chairs adorned with garden-inspired pillows. Flower prints? Of course. But add in a few unexpected designs such as embroidered berries, birds among branches, robin’s eggs, or bunnies. Sprinkle in a pillow or two boasting the word ‘relax’ and you’ve set the tone for a time to unwind.

Choose a tablecloth, runner, or placemats that suggest the outdoors in pattern or color. Floral motifs are always a good choice but if that’s too traditional for you opt instead for an elegant branch design or a pattern that suggests garden gate latticework. If you prefer a solid color, can’t-miss choices for suggesting the bold beauty of the outdoors include garden green, sun yellow, or sky blue. If your motif features a particular type of flower, match the tablecloth, runner, or placemats to the bloom’s hue for a striking monochromatic effect.

Should you hold your garden gathering outdoors, take into account the temperature. Early spring can mean there’s still a slight chill in the air, especially during the morning or late afternoon hours. Layer light, natural fiber throws in pastel tones on chairs or sofas so that guests can wrap themselves in comfy warmth while they enjoy the fresh air.

Wicker elements always impart airiness to a garden party, and the choices are endless:  Take your pick of chairs, stools, lanterns, side tables, baskets, serving carts, chargers, and more. For even more outdoors appeal, add in a natural sisal or jute area rug; they’re as durable as they are beautiful.

When your gathering starts to wind down and guests begin to take their leave, present them with a small decorative container in which you’ve planted the seed or bulb of a perennial flowering plant. They can grow the plant indoors then transplant it outside when it’s large enough, leaving them with a pretty pot they can reuse next season. It’s just one more way you can make fond memories of your garden gathering grow.

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Fresh Serving Ideas for Appetizers

As you plan your entertaining for the rest of the year, you may find you’re itching to do something new with the finger foods and cocktail appetizers you’ll serve. Here are a few fresh thoughts to inspire a dramatic banquet.

  • Make necessities like napkins and cutlery part of your presentation. Miniature baguettes are beautiful wrapped in a cloth napkin to keep them warm. Forks can be offered stuck through a cube of cheese or a stack of thin apple slices.
  • Instead of matching the colors of the serving dishes, use the most eclectic mix you can and match the food. Sun-dried tomatoes, sugared cranberries, and tiny cups of seafood bisque look decadent in a mixed-metal setting, while basil pesto and pistacho ice cream glow against a mix of colorful ceramics. (Just don’t try this with blue food!)
  • Let guests snip their own garnishes from an indoor herb garden (or an herbal bouquet). Whether you’re providing rosemary sprigs to swizzle in julep cups or basil and sage leaves to complement a cheese platter, just offer a few attractive trimmers – decorative embroidery scissors work well, as do clean candle wick trimmers.
  • Foods can become their own colorful tasting dishes if you choose recipes that are simply combined. Tomatoes, avocados, and hard-boiled eggs will all hold tasty fillings; fingerling potatoes and citrus fruits like clementines are even in season. Use elegant cocktail picks to bring your tastes to the spread without having to wash tiny dishes later.
  • Don’t be limited by the names of dishes. A cake plate is a great place to pile toothpick-pierced shreds of brisket at an intimate dinner with close friends; your turkey platter is great for lining up elegant filled crepes in ranks of sweet and savory.

 

A Glossary of Go-To Glassware

Raise a glass to a newly married couple, a graduation, a retirement, a new home or an old friend. Whatever the reason, enjoying a libation is an act of sharing and celebration so it’s important to know which glass to use when serving up a favorite beverage. Here are a few tips that can help quench your thirst for knowledge when it comes to the differences between glassware.

Short And Tall Tumblers

Both short and tall tumblers have straight or slightly sloping sides; the shorter version holds between five and six ounces of liquid while the tall tumbler holds 10 to 12 ounces.

Use the short tumbler when serving soft drinks, water, fruit juices, and whiskey on the rocks. Highballs, exotic tropical drinks, iced tea, soft drinks and the like are usually served in tall tumblers.

Red Wineglass

Rounder and wider than a white wineglass, a red wineglass should be large enough to be filled one-third full, allowing for the wine to be swirled.

White Wineglass

More elongated than its red counterpart, a white wineglass boasts a small bowl. Its tall stem is as practical as it is beautiful: it keeps the warmth of your hand from reaching the bowl and destroying the wine’s flavor.

Tall Flute (Tulip) Glass

Tall and elegant, a tall flute features a narrow bowl on a slender stemmed base that allows for the graceful imbibing of champagne and sparkling wines.

Cocktail Glass

This wide-rimmed glass can hold about four ounces of liquid and is a favorite choice for serving mixed cocktails, martinis, and Manhattans.

Brandy Snifter

Featuring a wide-bottom bowl that narrows near the top, a brandy snifter fits comfortably in the hand so that its contents may be warmed and swirled to release its bouquet.

Liqueur Glass

A liqueur glass is dainty in size:  it holds only about an ounce and a half of liquid and is generally used for serving cordials and fine liqueurs.

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Accessories to Always Have On-Hand for Entertaining

If you love to play party host, it’s important that you be prepared with the right entertaining tools. Whether you’re putting together a casual get-together or a glamorous cocktail party, these accessories will help turn your home into the perfect stylish and functional space for entertaining:

Beverage dispenser
With this Berry and Thread Beverage Dispenser – Whitewash, guests can help themselves to whatever beverage you may be offering. The glass makes it easy to see what’s inside, and the silver spout allows guests to dispense their drink with ease. This entertaining must-have is great for holding anything from iced tea and lemonade to spiced cocktails and wine.

Three tier serving tray
Stylishly set out appetizers or desserts with this Amboise Three Tier Wooden Server. It complements your vintage decor, and each tier is covered with a frosted plate to add elegance to any dinner table. This entertaining accessory also adds height to your dinner spread, providing visual interest.

White dinnerware
White dinnerware offers a classic look to your dinner table. No matter the occasion, white dinnerware can always be used. It can be mixed and matched with linens and flowers to create the ambiance you’re after. For instance, give off an eclectic vibe at your plate setting with white dinnerware, an ornately patterned runner and contrasting napkins. If you want a more subdued look, match your timeless white dinnerware with neutral linens and fresh, cream-colored blooms.

A chalkboard
Instead of offering each guest individual drink or dinner menus, consider elegantly writing out the party’s food and beverage choices on a chalkboard. The chalkboard can be displayed at the entrance of the party to serve as a stylish and functional decor piece. You can also choose to place small, individual chalkboards at each place setting.

Chip and dip set
Chips and dip is the ultimate party appetizer, so you should have a proper way to serve it. This Ceramic Chip and Dip Set – Cream is simple to coordinate with other party decor and can be utilized for all sorts of dips and appetizers.

Bud vases
This Be Seated Set of 4 Bud Vases/Place Card Holders in Gift Box combines the beauty of fresh-cut flowers with the functionality of place cards. The clear glass vases will match any blooms that you decide to use, and each vase has place card holders so you can direct your guests to the proper spot at the table.

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5 Practical but Memorable Shower and Housewarming Gifts

5 Practical but Memorable Shower and Housewarming Gifts

These Marble Cheese Knives make for an excellent accompaniment to an assortment of cheese and wine.

Choosing high-end gifts for life events like bridal showers, housewarmings, and graduations provides a chance to show your regard for the recipient – and to demonstrate your ability to make a tasteful selection.

The following variations on traditional gifts are memorable, practical, and perfect for showing gratitude or affection with a personal signature.

  • At a lingerie shower or a single woman’s housewarming, a set of good-quality mesh washing bags plus a natural laundry soap, a linen spray, or a set of drawer liners make a thoughtful basket that will complement every other gift received.
  • Instead of bringing a bouquet to a housewarming or as a hostess gift, bring a small planter and some well-chosen, regionally-appropriate seeds, or choose a permanent floral arrangement that will provide care-free beauty.
  • Every move seems to end up requiring a package of clothes hangers for the new home’s closets, so provide a few hangers of particularly nice quality – or, for a bon voyage, a good garment bag.
  • At a housewarming, select a small art print in a theme that appeals to the homeowner. Artwork with multiple colors is usually easiest to incorporate into the developing décor. If you like, place it in a table frame so it can be easily moved by the recipient until a final layout is decided upon.
  • To bring a bottle of wine exhibits classic taste – but to stand out and to complete a future experience for the recipient, three or four cheeses, packaged with a small cheese board if you wish, makes a tasteful and tasty choice.

As you can see, the key to making a sensible gift feel luxurious is to consider both usefulness and quality. Consider complementing a frequently-given gift or aim for the unexpected but well-thought-out – and, of course, package it attractively so it’s presented as both elegant and timely.

Must-Have Kitchen Essentials for the Home Cook

The items in your kitchen can have a big impact on your cooking experience. After all, if you don’t have the right tools, how are you supposed to craft delicious meals? These kitchen items are must-have pieces for the heart of your home:

Canisters
Cooking and baking require staple ingredients like flour, sugar and salt. Instead of keeping these items hidden in the back of your kitchen cabinets, make them easily accessible by transferring them to cannisters. These labeled containers are perfect for storing what you use most on a regular basis. Plus, they can easily dress up your countertops with their rustic, farmhouse style.

Cutting board
Your kitchen countertops would get pretty beaten up without a cutting board. It’s best to have a few of these boards in the kitchen –  a small one for slicing tiny ingredients like garlic, and a larger one that can accommodate cuts of meat.

Knives
You can’t just have any knife in the kitchen. You want a variety of  high-quality knives that can tackle different jobs. This knife set, for instance, contains a bread, carving and all-purpose knife to assist you with whatever you might be making. Use the set to slice and dice produce, peel the skin off of an apple or cut through a baguette with ease.

Mixing bowls
Whether you’re whipping up a cake, brownies, meatballs or sauce, you’re going to need mixing bowls. These durable bowls are not only functional, but also have an elegant charm that will add to your vintage decor.

Measuring cups
Measuring cups are necessary for ensuring that you are able to follow your recipe accurately. But measuring cups aren’t normally a decorative piece, and their bulky nature can make it difficult to store them in drawers. Instead, use these White Pear Ceramic Measuring Cups, which can be kept on your kitchen countertops for easy access.

Slow cooker
Slow cookers are perfect for chefs that are always on the go, and yet still need to whip up meals for a large family. You simply add the ingredients in the morning, and the meal will be ready to go by the time you get home from work. This is a kitchen tool that will no doubt pay for itself over the long term.

Serving tray
This kitchen item is essential if you do a lot of entertaining. It’s especially handy to have around during Thanksgiving, as it displays your turkey beautifully.

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5 Tips That Will Make Entertaining at Home a Breeze

No matter the time of year, it’s common to host soirees for family and friends. There are certain events, both big and small, that present themselves throughout the year, like birthdays, promotions and holidays, and those things should be celebrated. No matter what you’re gathering loved ones for, these entertaining tips will ensure that your get-together is a success:

  1. Design a lighting concept

Contemporary lighting is one of the most important decorative and functional elements of a party because it instantly sets a mood. The ultimate goal is to achieve a soft, even glow throughout your space. Some rooms tend to only have one overhead light fixture, which can offer a harsh light, much like you would find in an interrogation room. Warm things up by installing dimmers on your lights. Lowering the lights is one of the easiest ways to set the mood for a party. You can also add candles to the space in which you are entertaining guests. You can place tea lights generously throughout the room to set the tone for an intimate, inviting evening.

  1. Add place cards

Place cards can take your dinner table from casual to elegant in no time. It ensures that your guests will be evenly spaced out, and you can arrange who sits by who to encourage good conversation.

  1. Use beautiful place settings and dishes

Even the most last-minute appetizers will look impressive when they’re served on the right plate. This Seascape Plate features two stunning shades of blue that blend together seamlessly. The artistic ridges of the plate make it a breathtaking piece to serve with. This textured Mum Plate – White also demands attention with its gold rims and textured petals.

  1. Select a make-ahead recipe

Instead of spending the majority of the evening cooking dinner in the kitchen, opt for a one-pot make ahead recipe like slow-braised pork. This way, you’ll be able to enjoy the company of your guests while dinner cooks by itself in the kitchen.

  1. Ward off stress

The host or hostess is the person who sets the mood of an event. If the host is running around stressed out about getting dinner out of the oven and filling everyone’s glasses, that same anxious feeling is likely to spread to the rest of your guests. Get organized as much as you can before the start of your soiree so that you can put out a relaxed energy that will help everyone feel comfortable.

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How to Style Your Bar Cart

Trendy bar carts have proven that you don’t need a full-sized bar in your home to entertain your guests in high style. This home essential will be a must-have during the holiday season, especially if you plan to play host to more than a few festive soirees. They can be stored in any room in the house and tucked away into a corner when not in use. Simply lining up bottles and glassware on your cart won’t do, however. There is a certain art to arranging your bar cart.

Start with a cart that matches your interior
When choosing a bar cart, pay attention to its shape, finish and overall feel and see how the appearance compares to your current interior style. If your abode is largely antique industrial, this Castra Serving Cart would fit right in with your vintage decor. But if your home is on the more modern side and accented with metallic finishes, this Connaught Bar Cart – Polished Nickel might be a better option.

Stock up on the basics
Think about the spirits you drink the most of – maybe it’s vodka, rum or gin. Either way, you’ll want to be sure to get what you drink most often. Keep in mind the nature of your party as well. For instance, holiday parties may call for peppermint schnapps or some brandy to create eggnog martinis. Here are a few of the most generic bar basics you’ll need:

Tools:
Ice bucket
Tongs
Shaker
Strainer
Bottle opener
Corkscrew
Decanter
Wine bucket

Liquor:
Tequila
Whiskey
Vodka
Gin
Rum
Bourbon
Champagne

Mixers:
Sodas of your choice
Juices of your choice
Bitters
Tonic water

When picking out these bar basics, pay attention to packaging. Bottles decorated with color, pattern and texture are a great way to perk up your cart.

Dress it up with accessories
While liquor and glassware are both necessities, there are other accessories you can add that bring a dose of style and functionality to your cart. Bring a splash of color to your display with Ita Wine Bottle Coaster Set of Two. These coasters feature enchanting jewel tones and a wavering pattern that instantly draws the eye.

Add personal items
Don’t hesitate to make your bar cart your own by adding items that are special to you, such as a collection of wine corks, vintage bartending books, or an engraved shaker. These tools give your cart personality and make it custom to fit your interests.

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Fresh Tips For Spring Entertaining

It’s almost time to switch gears to warm weather get-togethers in spring. The following tips will ensure that you’re prepared for any spring event and can keep your home looking stylish and beautiful:

Introduce color using flowers
Spring is the time of year when flowers finally start to spring from the ground, and colorful buds decorate Mother Nature’s landscape. Bring some of that beauty to your table with bunches of lilacs and peonies tucked into vintage teacups and vases. The antique dishes offer a delicate and romantic touch to your spring soiree. Feel free to mix and match vases to create an eclectic look across your table.

You can also get creative with your floral arrangements, using a vintage watering can, mason jars or painted soup cans.

Rely on seasonal produce
Using in-season vegetables and fruit during spring can keep your menu extremely flavorful. Utilize avocados to make a chili lime crab salad or rely on lemons to make tasty angel hair pasta. For a side, try oven-roasted asparagus sprinkled with freshly shaved Parmesan cheese or red pepper and fennel soup.

Keep in mind that springtime fare should be as light and airy as the season. Avoid heavy comfort food dishes and instead keep your menu simple. Arrange all of your appetizers and dishes in a buffet style so you and your guests can help themselves.

If you have produce leftover, arrange the fruits and vegetables into a decorative bowl and use it as a centerpiece!

Set out spring-inspired beverages
It’s important to serve drinks that appropriately match your seasonal food options. You can never go wrong with a carafe of cucumber water and some fresh lemonade. Feel free to offer specialty cocktails including strawberry basil margaritas, sangria, honey-vanilla spritzers or watermelon-cucumber refreshers.

Create a cozy ambiance
If the weather is warm enough, take your spring party outside to your patio. Nature offers built-in decor, so you won’t have to do much work in order to make the space look like spring. Make sure there’s enough comfortable seating for everyone. It’s also important to figure out lighting options for once the sun goes down. Hang a vintage chandelier or a string of white lights from the top of your pergola. You can also rely on table lanterns to cast a comfortable glow for your and your guests.