Category Archives: Rooms

Seven Great Gift Ideas to Give a Hostess

Beginning this week, we look forward to being invited to gatherings to celebrate Thanksgiving, and next month, Christmas.  It is always appropriate to give your hostess a thank you gift for being included in these holiday festivities.  I enjoy finding something that I think the hostess will like.  Although it may be tempting to grab a random gift from the grocery or wine store shelf, think ahead this year and order a few hostess gifts that offer something more thoughtful.

Biltmore Inspirations offers several very reasonably priced options for inexpensive gifts (less than $20, plus shipping and handling.)  All of these items are inspired by something within the Biltmore House, America’s largest home, located in Asheville, North Carolina.  Check out these ideas and visit this website to place an order: Biltmore Inspirations Website.

Damask Kitchen Towels

Damask Kitchen Towel Set.  An elegant set of two coordinating designs red/cream striped and waffle-weave with the Biltmore Breakfast Nook’s damask emblem.  18 “W x 28” L.  Set of two $19.98.

Olmsted Oak Spreaders

Olmsted Oak Spreader Set.  These oak leaf and acorn design spreaders showcase three finishes in three colors.  Dishwasher safe.  4.75” L .  Set of three $19.98.

Fleur-de-Lis Wine Stopper

Fleur -De-Lis Wine Stopper.  Add a little sophistication to your wine bottle.  This decorative stopper features a graceful fleur-de-lis anchored by a ring of beads.  Hand wash.  1.5” W x 4.25”H.  $14.98.

Celebrate Wine Stopper.  Another festive wine stopper is perfect for the wine connoisseur host or hostess (picture not available.)  The word “Celebrate” appears on one side, and “Inspire” on the other . . . the perfect sentiments for any gathering.  Hand wash.  1.75”W x 4” H.  $14.98.

Fleur-de-Lis Wine Glass Charms

Fleur-de-Lis Stem Charms.  Each charm has a fleur-de-lis with a different color beaded ring for a fun, easy way to help guests personalize their wine glasses.  Hand wash.  1”W x 2.75”L.  Set of 4.  $19.98.

Celebrate Cocktail Linen Napkins

Celebrate Cocktail Napkin Set. Ring holiday cheer into your everyday décor with festive cocktail napkins.  9” square.  Set of four for $19.98.

Celebrate Wine Gift Bags

Celebrate Wine Bag.  Set of two white and red Celebrate wine bags.  These will make two perfect hostess gifts for any social engagement.  6.5”W x 12.4”L.  Set of two for $19.98.

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Filed under Holiday, Hostess Gifts, Kitchen, Party

Ideas for Autumn Centerpieces

It’s Fall and the weather in Phoenix is beginning to cool down.  Once the temperature drops to the 80’s, I get inspired to begin decorating for Halloween and the Fall season. Here’s five fun ideas I’ve discovered that you may be inspired to replicate in your home.  Any of these creations can be incorporated as a centerpiece, or as part of a holiday-inspired vignette on your mantel, side table, or kitchen island.

Photo from Martha Stewart Living

1.  This easy to create idea comes from Martha Stewart.  Scoop out a medium to large-sized orange or white pumpkin.  In this photo, she used a white one to create a vase to function as a centerpiece on her festive table.  It is filled with a bundle of fresh flowers including roses, daffodils, ranunculuses, calla lilies, tulips and berries. The flowers are in Autumn’s best colors: orange, shades of peach and yellow. Surrounding the large pumpkin vase, she placed a number of smaller pumpkins in assorted sizes, along with small votive candles.  This elegant idea is perfect for both Halloween and Thanksgiving celebrations.

Photo from Better Homes & Gardens

2.  A fun Chartreuse green centerpiece is made up of just picked Granny Smith apples, nestled next to a large green pillar candle, all arranged in a giant glass bowl.  This clever idea comes from Better Homes & Garden.  The same concept could be created with red apples and a red candle for Christmas decorating.

Photo from Better Homes & Gardens

3.  It doesn’t get any easier than this!   This large pumpkin is trimmed out with a twirling branch from a bittersweet vine.  Dried fruit, nuts and seeds can be scattered below.  Another great idea from Better Homes & Gardens.

Photo from Better Homes & Gardens

4.  In this photo, Better Homes & Gardens fills a rusty antique urn with dried corn stalks and sprigs of wheat to create the base.  It is simply topped off with a bright orange pumpkin.

5.  Lastly, a simple pumpkin is hallowed out and filled with assorted fall leaves to create a very simple, yet festive idea.  Can’t you see several sizes of these centered on your dining room table?

Adding a few inspired designs to your table at this time of year invites the fun, Autumn holidays into your home.

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Filed under Decorating, Flowers, Holiday, Rooms, Tablescapes

Chic Shelf Paper Makes Trendy Placemats

"Wild" Shelf Paper from Scentennials

I discovered a fun, easy and inexpensive way to change the decorating theme of a dining table.   Decorate with handmade placemats by using shelf paper.  They come in a variety of styles, colors and designs, and they can be cut-to-fit, depending upon the size of your table, dishes and place settings.   You can typically find boxed shelf paper on sale at discount department stores, like Ross, Home Goods or TJ Maxx or from Scentennials.  Each piece of paper makes a large oversized (16.5″ x 22″) placemat when unrolled.  The animal print designs above come in sets of six for $14.50 a box.

If the scented paper seems overpowering, consider this alternative from Chic Shelf Paper.  With hundreds of designs to choose from, and available in cut-to-order sizes, think how your white or black dinnerware would work with this Damask selection.

Distressed Damask in Black

Or, bright pink placemats with white tableware.

Bright Pink Fruits

Or, chocolate-colored plates on a fleur-de-lis design on ivory cream background.

Fleur-de-lis in Chocolate & Ivory Cream

Prices begin at $2.50 per square foot, or $4.00 for a cut-to-order custom size.

Consider showing off your creativity and trendy decorating style by incorporating a set of handmade paper placemats when hosting your next dinner party.

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Filed under Dining, Tablescapes

Cloth Napkins Not Just for Dressy Occasions

Photo Compliments of Biltmore Inspirations

I have never been a fan of paper napkins for dining, with the occasional exception being for picnic use.  In Arizona, where we enjoy many meals and barbeques outdoors, my tastes still lean towards a crisp spray-starched ironed cloth napkin.  They just look and feel nicer.  Cotton or linen napkins are not just for dressy occasions nor as scary as you may think.  They are less expensive in the long run because they can be used again and again.  You can find many colors, styles and prices to choose.  I suggest having an array of options in your collection to match with the theme of your party.

Wash cloth napkins in warm water using your washer’s gentle cycle, then tumble until damp dry.  A shot of spray starch and a quick steam iron on both sides results in a ready-to-go set once folded and stacked in your linen cupboard.

This Damask embroidered napkin set from Biltmore Inspirations is one of my favorites.  From the Breakfast Room Collection, the set of four, cream-colored, cloth napkins boast a damask red emblem and provide an elegant look to any table.  20″ square. Cost: $34.98 for the set.

Even though maintaining your cloth napkins are a bit more work, I believe the result is worth the extra effort and your guests will think so too.

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Filed under Dining, Holiday, Tablescapes

Spanish Mission Style for your Dining Table

Interior Hallway at Mission Santa Barbara

Photo by Debbie J. Elder

On a recent visit to the beautiful Pacific coastal city of Santa Barbara, I visited the historic, 225-year old Mission Santa Barbara. Locals refer to this 1786-built mission as the “Queen of the Missions,” due to its magnificent Roman-inspired architecture and its place as the 10th of California’s 21 missions continually operating since its beginning by Franciscan friars.  The gorgeous chapel and the flower-filled inner Moorish fountain and courtyard were my favorite parts of the tour.  Until I spied this lovely brick and stucco outdoor hallway.  I loved the elaborate ironwork enveloping the windows and the brightly painted turquoise shutters with brick-red trim.  The thick adobe exterior walls, originally painted by Chumash Indians, now boasts a striking rich-yellow tone. The white-washed years of wear and tear, located below the bottom of the windows, reminds me of tarnished silver. Finally, patterned black ironwork, a frequent enhancement of Santa Barbara architecture, adds a flash of jewelry to the windows.

I thought about how to create this enticing color scheme for dining at home. Envision your dining table showcasing tableware inspired by the Mission colors of muted mustard yellow, Southwestern turquoise, rusty-red, iron black and touches of flashy silver.

In searching online, I found some sturdy dinnerware in a slightly more mint-turquoise shade by Bobby Flay at Kohl’s.  These dishes are perfectly trimmed in rust red, similar to the windows above.  The retail price is $139.99 for a 16-piece set.

Consider pairing this dinnerware with the Dijon-yellow scalloped placemats.  Or, alternatively, a full tablecloth in this collection from Williams Sonoma.

These lovely linens feature a center raised grape motif and leaf pattern. This seems appropriate for our mission theme, after all didn’t the Franciscan monks produce wine?  $56.00 for a set of four placemats, $125.00 – $180.00 for the tablecloths, depending on size.

Complete the table setting with black eating utensils.  A heavy, rustic, forged iron style would be perfect, such as these from the Country Village Shoppe at $64.95 for each 5-piece setting.

Then, add some bowls and serving pieces in a tarnished silver plate, borrowing a few of those antique treasures from your grandmother’s cupboard for the occasion.  Or, I like to search out pretty silver plate pieces with discounted prices at Ruby Lane.

Finally, create a giant centerpiece out of the bright yellow sunflowers growing in abundance by the roadside this month.  And, as an added bonus, they are free!  Add in some green flowering branches from a tree in your yard and arrange the flowers in a silver wine bucket or rustic black urn for a final Spanish touch.

Photo by Debbie J. Elder

Viva La Fiesta!

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Filed under Dining, Tablescapes