A Blue Willow Autumn Tablescape

Happy Fall Y’all!  Are you all decorated and ready to kick off the flurry of holidays?  I think we are all set in our home, so next comes the fun of opening our home to friends and planning company dinners.

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I’ve always loved to set a pretty and often over-the-top table for our family at random times, so when company is coming it’s just natural to do a little more!  Setting a pretty table is my way of creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.  Our guests are very special to us, and I try to show that feeling by the little things that can make dinner intimate and unique.

Nature and traditional color associated with autumn was my inspiration for the table.  For this particular setting I decided that a little nontraditional blue was the perfect combination for those traditional and vivid fall colors.

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I love to use real pumpkins in my decorating because they fit any fall theme, but I can also cook with some of them as needed for Pumpkin pies and the like, so they are useful as well!

This centerpiece was so easy to put together!  Using a variety of pumpkins, I arranged them on top of the table around an old tobacco jar that was picked up at Scott’s Antique market in Atlanta filled with $5 grocery store flowers and cut greenery from the yard.

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The Dutch blue and white candle sticks were from a local thrift store.  Final touches of a leafy garland and deer antlers add more layers of natural elements to pull it all together.

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When I put together a large centerpiece on the table as I did here, it is generally because I am also setting up a buffet to serve from.  It allows the table to be pretty, and people can spend more time enjoying their meal instead of constantly passing food around!

The Blue Willow china was handed down from my mom, while the blue transfer-ware plates are from a local antique/thrift store.

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The crystal has been our favorite for many a dinner party for 21 years now. We didn’t want folks spending a lot of money on something that could be considered frivolous when we married, so Audley and I picked out this Longchamp Crystal that is beautiful and definitely affordable!

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I love using thrift store finds in my decorating as it goes to show that you do have to have expensive dinnerware to create a warm and inviting table.

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Well, our first autumn themed table of the season is set and ready!

How are you decorating your table this year?

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Reasons We Practice Hospitality

“Always be eager to practice hospitality.”

~Romans 12:13~

Recently I was doing my Bible study and several scriptures on hospitality popped up.  They were like a slap to my face as hospitality is something I have neglected greatly in the  nearly four years since we moved here to South Carolina.

“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling”

~I Peter 4:9~

It wasn’t intentional, but began with the attitude that we didn’t know anyone.  Next it was because our house isn’t as put together as I would like. I’ve even used the excuse that no one else is having us over, so why should we open our home…. And now it’s just because we are so out of practice the desire to entertain has just slipped away.

It’s not that we haven’t had friends over in the time we’ve been here, but what was once several times a month has dwindled to maybe once every other month.  The truth of it all is, I truly miss opening our home to friends for a hot meal, great conversation, or a good game of cards.

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No matter how old-fashioned or taboo it has become, opening your home for guests is such a wonderful way to share love and show others how much you truly care for them.  Audley and I have talked a lot about our lack of having people over and decided there was no better time than now to change this aspect of our lives.

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There are so many reasons why we should entertain (beginning with the words God himself spoke to inspired writers), but here are some of the reasons we entertain and why you should practice hospitality as well:

1. Opening your home to guest creates a casual environment that is so much more conducive for communication and getting to know one another on a deeper, more personal level.   You have experienced it over and over, the chaos of restaurants.  They are loud, full of interruptions, and a far cry from an intimate environment of your home.  Dining out also gets very expensive, especially if you have kids that are accompanying you.  Opening your home takes away much of the chaos we have in public settings and creates a casual, welcoming atmosphere we all desire.

2. My kids can entertain your kids.  We all live in a super busy world that for many of us are controlled by our kids.  Basketball on Monday, lacrosse on Thursday, wrestling on Saturday, youth group on Wednesday…. It goes on and on.  Not only do adults need a break from the kids, they also need a break from us!  When you open you home to others it creates a perfect atmosphere for kids, no matter their age, to let their guard down, be themselves and learn to socialize outside of school and sports.

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3. Opening your home helps foster relationships you might not have made  otherwise.  It’s easy to have the same circle of friends over, but when you broaden you invitations you will make associations you would have never imagined.  Audley and I have recently agreed to host a small group on Sunday evenings as a part of our Church’s Life Group program.  By doing this we have met several fabulous couples and families of ALL ages that otherwise we still would not have met in our large congregation.  It has been such a blessing for us as we share and study together each week.

4. You are setting an example for your children.  Our children need to see the joy and fun that comes with being hospitable.  They need to know not everything will be picture perfect, but you can still open the doors to others and share a wonderful evening laughing, talking, sometimes crying and leaving the world outside.

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5. You set the tone for the evening.  Hospitality doesn’t always have to be a five-course supper.  It can be simple quiches from the freezer with other finger foods or even pizza from the local pizzeria.  Sit a table if you desire or use paper plates for your munchies while you tackle a friendly game of cards.  Opening your home can be something you planned weeks in advance or a spontaneous action because you got off work early on Friday night.  Believe me, no one will remember how fancy or how casual the time spent in your home was, but they will remember how you made them feel!

6. Showing hospitality is a wonderful way to create community.  We live in a culture where taking care of self is more important than looking out for those around us.  Opening our homes lets us show compassion, love, service, and genuine interest in those who surround us and take the focus off of ourselves!  And let’s be honest, doesn’t the world need more of this?!

Last weekend Audley and I hosted four couples for a movie and dinner “date night”.  These four couples were a part of the marriage class we just finished teaching at church and we felt this would be a great way to end our time as teachers.  Of course not everyone from the class was able to attend, but with the small number who did we chose to go all out to set the mood for our “date night”.  We truly were blessed by the evening as it gave us the opportunity to get to know these four couples to a greater depth with our fun and laid back conversations as we are all in different stages of our marriages and lives.

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This wonderful evening was a great reminder to what we have been missing and we are already planning our next dinner party!

When was the last time you opened your home “just because” and not out of obligation?  I would love to hear your input.

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A Last Minute Centerpiece

Recently we entertained a houseful of college bound girls as well as some special mentors in my daughter’s life.   With sixteen coming for supper, I had two tables to set and a lot of food to prepare.  Fortunately I had an easy menu planned (who doesn’t like pasta with homemade sauce?), so that left me time to set tables and seating arrangements for what was to be an entertaining evening.

As I wrapped up tabletops, I realized that the dining room table looked bare and desperately needed a centerpiece.  Heading off to Publix for grocery store roses and then out into the yard, I arranged a very quick centerpiece to add a little color to our table without breaking the bank or hindering the other things I needed to do.

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Publix roses, stems from a Camilla bush and a gravy boat to create a fast centerpiece.

Deciding what to use for my arrangement was the most difficult decision.  Because conversations are so important at the dinner table, I didn’t want to hinder those at all, but I am so tired of the same old vases as centerpieces.  I also didn’t want something full and big that might interfere with food being passed around. We were only having bread baskets, cheese, and salad on the table, but a large centerpiece could potentially be in the way.

As I scanned the kitchen the gravy boat that matches my china was sitting on the cabinet and caught my eye…..

PERFECT!

Adding fresh water to the boat, I took scotch tape and taped a grid across the top of the dish to help hold my flowers in place.

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I snipped the roses short, since gravy boats aren’t  deep, and began adding roses in the gridded areas.

I used a full dozen roses, and then added the fresh greenery that was clipped from a Camilla shrub next to our patio.

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The result?

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Nothing over the top, but perfect for a last-minute addition to the table and very economical as the grocery store roses were $8 for the dozen.

And we all love economical.

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The girls thought it was so neat that I pulled out the china and roses for their supper.   Why have it if you don’t ever use it?

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Two different occupied Japan Noritake china patterns; they compliment each other nicely.

As teenagers, I’m sure they wouldn’t have noticed the lack of a centerpiece, but it sure added to the festive evening and made me feel much better.

Girlfriends Night

Girlfriends Night

What are some last-minute centerpieces you have put together?  I would love to hear things you have tried that worked well.

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