Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Blue Willow for St. Patrick...

It's time to bring out the Blue Willow again! You all know I like it so much and use it with every holiday.  For "Tablescape Thursday" I am bringing it out for St. Patrick's Day. 

My motto is "use what you have" so I shopped the house and my mom's house for some accessories.

Let's get down to business! I love blue and green together. It all started with these placemats I bought at Pier 1 in Alexandria, Va., in the mid-90s.  It was Spring and I was just looking around. There were some beautiful displays in the store with these colors and they were calling my name. Now, I am not really a "blue" person, but I thought the combination would be great with the Blue Willow. And, best of all, it is a combination inspired by nature! I took this photo in San Juan, Puerto Rico near "El Morro." Is there anything more beautiful than that gorgeous azure sky and ocean next to the green grass? 

I digress! Back to the frozen late winter of North Carolina...

The hydrangeas are from my mother's garden and just bring it all together for me so nicely.  

I used my Mikasa "Italian Countryside" dinner plates for chargers. This pattern is so versatile, I use it with pretty much anything. I added my great grandmother's Blue Willow plates and bowls made by Royal China. The bread plates are Johnson Brothers, and the coffee cups and saucers are by Churchill. I found this ribbon and lace in a bag of trim my grandmother had and thought it would be perfect with these blue napkins instead of traditional napkin rings. 

For a runner I brought out the same vintage cocktail napkins I used with the espresso set last week. I just had to use them!

These little blue votive holders are all from the late 90s also.

I brought out my Churchill coffee pot for after-dinner coffee and paired it with the cream and sugar made by Royal China, and a tray I bought in Japan.

There you have the age-old "Blue Willow" for yet another holiday! I think the woven placemats give it a more casual, contemporary flair. This is such a versatile pattern that really just goes with anything and is perfect for any occasion whether casual or more formal. 

Thank you SO much for stopping by:-) I hope you find something you can take with you to make your house a home. Your comments mean so much to me, and lead me to the wonderful ideas I get from you. Have a lovely St. Patrick's Day!

Be sure to go over to see Susan at "Between Naps on the Porch" for fabulous tables and other great ideas!


Cream dinnerplates: Mikasa "Italian Countryside"
Blue Willow plates and bowls: Royal China
Blue Willow cups, saucers, S&P and coffee pot: Churchill
Blue Willow B&B plates: Johnson Brothers
Blue stemware: Walmart/Belks
Placemats/napkins: Pier 1 years ago
Candle holders: Belks
Hydrangeas from the garden
Stainless flatware: American Harmony by Oneida


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

An Evening in Italy! After Dinner Espresso...

Hi everyone! I'm joining Susan at "Between Naps on the Porch" for "Tablescape Thursday" and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to sit down for a hot cup of espresso! 

But first...a little background on "espresso." 

        Espresso was invented in 1903 by Luigi Bezzerathe owner of a manufacturing business.  Mr. Bezzera longed to find a way to brew coffee much faster.  Wasting some time after work one day, he added pressure to the coffee brewing process, reducing brewing time.  The machine that he later introduced was termed the "Fast Coffee Machine", which is where the word "espresso" comes from...espresso means "fast" in Italian!  Not only did his machine reduce brewing time, it made a better cup of coffee.  The quick brewing time allowed the best qualities of the bean to be extracted, avoiding some of the unfavorable qualities associated with over-extraction.  Luigi Bezzera was not at all successful in marketing the machine, and he had no money.

    Desidero Pavoni bought the rights to the espresso machine patent in 1905 and successfully introduced espresso to the Italian market.  Photographs from the turn of the century depict Italian Klosks serving "CAFE ESPRESSO - LA PAVONI".  This was a very common site in Italy.  Desidero Pavoni changed the way Italians drink coffee. (From "The History of Espresso" HERE)

We will be having our espresso in a lovely demitasse set I bought in Sacile, Italy at one of the outdoor markets. 

Oh...I thought you might like to see what Sacile looks like...

This is a stock photo of Sacile.  Below is a photo from the same vantage point my husband took...

And the market...

We have stayed several times at the Hotel Due Leoni, in the background of this photo, which you can visit HERE.

Besides the obviously American tourist in this photo, notice how everyone is dressed?? I think every person I saw looked so chic and nice. And you should see the shoes in the stores. If you love shoes like I do...stop! Enough of that!!

Ok, let's keep going! I'll show you a few more photos of this beautiful town before we have our coffee...

Ok, it's time to come back to North Carolina where we are covered in 8 inches of snow...

Each cup and saucer is different...

I thought the Mexican Talavera candle holders were perfect with the bold colors of the Italian cups...

I was so happy to use these vintage cocktail napkins because the colors were just perfect! 

I also bought the spoons at the same market. 

Notice the stovetop espresso pot? My husband told me his mother in Puerto Rico used this kind of pot so I bought one. I had used the electric espresso/cappuccino makers before, but I can tell you this makes the best espresso ever! It's so easy too. We typically don't use steamed milk, which would be the only thing this pot can't do. You can buy one HERE.

I LOVED the coffee there so much, but being a typical American, I needed more than a little "shot" of espresso! 

We do love our coffee and I think both of us love the coffee in Italy and Turkey best. We'll visit Turkey and have coffee there next time...

Where it all came from:
Demitasse cups, saucers and spoons-- Sacile, Italy
Espresso Pot--"The Kitchen Shop," Waynesville, NC
Aluminum Tray-- my dad made:-)
Gold napkins-- World Market a few years ago
Cocktail Napkins-- vintage from my family collection
Talavera Candle Holders-- TJ Maxx about 4 years ago
Vase-- Vintage

I hope you enjoy our espresso and our visit to Sacile, Italy:-) Thank you so much for stopping by, and for the lovely comments. And thanks for letting me see all your wonderfully creative ideas!!