Fuchsia and Taupe Table Inspiration

Another incredibly gorgeous color palette idea from Martha Stewart, table goddess extraordinaire . . .

marthastewartweddings.com

marthastewartweddings.com

This fuchsia and taupe table is just lovely, especially with the sand-colored glassware and monochromatic table. The pink is so heavenly that it would work against any white or neutral tableware, which most of us have. It’s a bit reminiscent of my Rose-Colored Inspiration, and that menu would work equally well with the brighness of this fuchsia table.

Rose-Colored Inspiration

Someone lovely sent me two dozen roses today.  They’re assorted dark pink, light pink, peach and yellow, and I adore these colors together more than I expected.

I usually choose the classic monocolor bouquet when I buy roses at the market – peach roses are my favorite, with just enough pink and just enough yellow, they are frothy pieces of heaven – so this multicolor bouquet is a wonderful new bit of eye candy.  Wouldn’t they be gorgeous placed in equally colorful vases?

I would pump up the volume by placing tins like these or multicolored bud vases over a turquoise-blue tablecloth and sky-blue napkins, simply folded so they don’t compete with the eye being drawn to the centerpieces.  It would be a table joyously about color.

On a table this colorful, we have to make sure the food doesn’t clash.  I’m thinking of using yellows of polenta and yellow peppers, greens of vegetables or salad, pinks and blues of berries and maybe some purple eggplant.  This is a slightly unconventional menu, featuring an egg at dinner, but I feel like it goes strangely well with the burst of color on the table.

Menu for a Rose-Colored Table

Raspberry-Lime Skinny Margaritas

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I’ve been trying to invent a margarita that doesn’t have any real sugar and actually tastes good. It’s been so tough, guys: I’ve been working on it and working on it . . . and working, and working some more because you really never know when a little tweak will make a drink far better and the only way to know is to taste every single test cocktail multiple times. Quality control is serious here at BB&B. Don’t let anyone ever tell you throwing parties isn’t terribly hard work.

Lime juice is stultifyingly sour, and there’s no way around needing a sweetener if this drink is going to taste good. I used Splenda as the sweetener, but please use Stevia or Equal or whatever your sugar substitute of choice is – or if you want a little real stuff, go for the honey or agave syrup. Whatever you like best.

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Furthermore, if you’re a regular follower you know that I like cocktails stiff and tart. I used 2 teaspoons of Splenda in mine, and it made for a tart drink but still very quaffable. If you prefer sweeter cocktails, start with 3 teaspoons and keep adding until it tastes ridiculously yummy to you.

Raspberry-Lime Skinny Margaritas

  • 4 raspberries
  • 2-5 teaspoons Splenda
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 2 ounces (1 shot glass) good silver tequila
  • 4 ounces (2 shot glasses) sparkling water

Place raspberries in a sturdy-bottomed glass and add the Splenda. Muddle together with a muddler or the back of a spoon.

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Add lime juice, tequila and sparkling water and mix thoroughly. Pour into a pretty glass, if you like that sort of thing, and enjoy.

Pink Inspiration to Shoo Away Winter Blahs

The cold swooped into Jackson Hole today, as it did in most of the country, and because I’ve been bundled up and inside I’ve been imagining a party that is springy, girly, happy and filled with joy – i.e., PINK!

Now, I’m not really a pink kind of girl. I rarely use the color and even more rarely wear it, but in the right situation and with the exact right shade of pink, it works for me. And it works even better in the dead of cold, hideous winter when everyone wants some warmth and friendliness in their life. This shade of perfectly pale pink gives winter some color without being garishly too much.

Pink Luncheon

The pinks, gold, touches of glass green and a little cheery yellow/orange make me so happy!

I would use this color scheme for a girls luncheon, a baby shower, or for a more uncommon gathering, an afternoon tea for absolutely no good reason at all. Wouldn’t it be lovely to cover the table in a very pale pink tablecloth and gold candlesticks, then use a few tiny bud vases filled with kosher salt to hold up lollipops and name cards (or if you’re really ambitious, as in the inspiration board: cupcake pops)? I’d add just a few touches of green or blue glass vases or water glasses for some pop against the pink, et voila – you’re done. Nothing to it.

Add some friends, an assortment of tea sandwiches and champagne with a raspberry at the bottom of the glass, and it’ll be a lovely party.

The Girl in the Garden

You haven’t heard of Kamala Nair, but you will.

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She just sold her debut novel for six figures to Grand Central Publishing. The folks there are either incredibly lucky or insanely smart – or both – because The Girl in the Garden is going to be huge.  I was lucky to read it for the first time several months ago because (full disclaimer!) the author is my best friend.  I started it just before bed, planning to do some nice sleepy reading for a few chapters, then go to sleep and finish it later.  I had to be up in the morning fairly early, and I was tired.  Well: two hours later I looked at the clock and realized it was really late and I’d better go to bed ASAP to have any chance at a functional tomorrow – and I still could NOT put it down!  I read until it was done because I absolutely could not go to sleep without knowing what happened.  It was completely worth it.  It’s a beautifully written family drama that will thrill and delight you, worry you, surprise you and keep you turning the pages until there aren’t any left.  So, buy it!  Though this is rather early – it will probably come out in summer 2011 – but never fear, I will remind you then quite incessantly.

beach read

Ahhhh....summertime reading....

Here is the official synopsis from Publisher’s Marketplace: “Kamala Nair’s THE GIRL IN THE GARDEN, the redemptive journey of a young woman unsure of her engagement, who revisits in memory the events of one scorching childhood summer when her beautiful yet troubled mother spirits her away from her home to an Indian village untouched by time, where she discovers in the jungle behind her ancestral house a spellbinding garden that harbors a terrifying secret.”

The Girl in the Garden will be a fantastic book club selection because there are so many controversial characters that can’t be pigeonholed into good/bad – people will have a lot of different opinions, I think.  Which, naturally, would make for a great dinner party or cocktail party.  I love themed parties like this, but hate for them to be too obviously connected to their inspiration.  For example, the novel is primarily set in India, but serving only Indian food would just be so expected.  And we don’t ever want to be predictable, do we!?  I won’t give much away, but there are other elements of the novel that gave me inspiration with a twist – two primary themes are inner beauty and childhood.  My menu is below, and flexibly works for either hors d’oeuvres or a casual dinner party (everyone will have to feel comfortable about eating with their hands).  You’ll have to read the book to truly understand why I chose these dishes ;)

  • Samosas
  • Hot Peel and Eat Shrimp with Saffron Parsley Butter
  • Arugula with Pineapple and Pine Nuts, served in the pineapple
  • Wedding Cake

I started with samosas, because although they are obviously Indian food, I love them and I refuse to leave them out.  We also needed a little something Indian in the menu.  The shrimp reminds me of the tropical climate of Kerala and in their skins, they are ugly on the outside but wonderful on the inside; a major theme of the book.  Also, you have to eat the samosas and shrimp with your hands, tearing off the unattractive outer covering to get to the tastiness inside, which takes us back to childhood and obviously follows our theme of inner beauty.  The plating of the pineapple salad follows it as well and is evocative of the garden wall, and since the fruit itself has a prickly skin but is sweet inside, it too adds to our theme.  Pineapple is also a tropical fruit, and – an aside – I thought I didn’t like pineapple until I went to Kerala and someone convinced me to try one.  Oh my goodness, I can still remember how sweet that pineapple was.  I’ve been completely converted to pineapple ever since, and love using it in non-fruit salad ways.  Finally, wedding cake (which is really any cake you feel like making as long as you decorate it nicely) for the ending the main character hopes to have – plus, back to our childhood theme: everyone likes cake.

Martha Stewart Weddings

Martha Stewart Weddings

I would serve this on a table designed with a combination of whimsy and practicality.  It’s going to be a messy meal, and one napkin is not going to hold up to that shrimp.  So, two strategically placed paper towel dispensers placed on the table where the candles would usually go will be amusing and purposeful!  Then, with the white paper towels keeping it from getting too crazy, dress up the rest of the table with color: bright pinks, yellows, blues, reds, oranges.  This would be a great time to use the idea of aluminum cans (labels removed) or old jars as vases, again bringing us back to childhood and a casual feeling, and the colors are evocative of India without going overboard with the connection.

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Images on left from Martha Stewart Weddings and on right from Snippet and Ink

This is neither a table nor menu that would make sense served without a connection to The Girl in the Garden, and it’s so fun to have inspiration come from extraordinary stories like this one.  I can’t wait for it to be published so everyone can read it!

Sweet Home Dinner

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It was gorgeous and a wonderful evening. Alexis was down from Connecticut for the day and stopped by to stay hi while I was stringing the flowers for the ceiling. Of course I invited her to stay for dinner, and she was such a wonderful addition to our party – and got to hear lots of stories about Fairfield (where we all grew up) that either scared or intrigued her! Ha!

It’s an artistic group, so it was really fun to create a colorful table with bouquets of color pencils over brown craft paper that begged to be drawn on. I used it as the easiest place cards ever – just wrote everyone’s names above their plates.

DSC00963The flowers were simple, but added a punch of color. I bought four bunches of carnations in yellow and three shades of pink, and kept each color in its own vase rather than mixing them. It made the flowers look cohesive and at the same time, with the colored pencils, made the table as a whole very colorful.

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I then strung blossoms on three long strands of thread and hung them from the ceiling for something more festive and with a little bit of South Asian flair.

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DSC00948We made gorgeous doodles.

mosaicc029a8a12365810ee7ba98c79040ae60c68648d2And the food…Anna brought her gorgeous macaroons made with organic sweetened condensed milk, but I was so consumed with eating them that I completely forgot to take a photograph. Just imagine perfectly browned, chewy golden macaroons, and you’ll have a good sense of how lovely they were. Please continue for the post-mortem on my dishes.

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Survivorman Inspiration

I was watching Survivorman today – yes, I know, I’m supposed to be super girly because I spend time making things look pretty, but strangely enough I also enjoy learning what to do if I’m dropped into an arctic tundra or rainforest by accident – and he was on a rocky beach somewhere that looked very Alaska-like with icebergs not far away.  He hadn’t had food in four and a half days (he’s so much tougher than Bear Grylls, I can’t get over why everyone doesn’t see that) and then he caught four huge Arctic Char in the ocean, cleaned them, and hung them over a branch to air out.  Then he ate the raw meat like sushi.  It was awesome.

This does relate to dinner parties, and not by making sushi.  When he put the bubble-gum-pink fish up on the branch, it was so beautifully contrasted with the grey ocean and huge iceberg cliffs in the background, and I thought, “What a gorgeous table setting on which to serve a pink fish like that.”  It would set the bright color of the fish off perfectly and also give the table a quiet, contemplative, ocean feel which would be lovely for a deep wintry evening.

Clockwise from top left: Brides; Laurie Peacock on Elizabeth Anne Designs; Kate Kelly Photography on Snippet and Ink; Martha Stewart Weddings

For the menu, I’m naturally thinking of an ocean/beachy theme.  Dessert took me a while to choose (feeling that fruit would end the meal nicely, but not sure which fruit), but then I realized our Survivorman could conceivably find berries in the woods and the warm color would look lovely on our grey-blue table.  So, without further rambling:

Survivorman Menu

Starter:

  • Oysters on the half shell with lemon

Entrees:

Dessert:

MMMM so yummy, especially the oysters to start – I’m so obsessed with oysters, and this menu just sounds like it would bring that salty ocean taste with just the right touch of warmth to balance it out.

By the way, did you see that Will Ferrell episode on Man v. Wild?  Bear and Will basically went on a long hike in the snow, climbed down an extremely short litle cliff using a rope, camped out in a shelter that Bear built, had plenty of food and were picked up the next day.  Not exactly Survivorman-level surviving.  Which, fine, he’s a movie star and it was impressive that he even did that.  But instead of acknowledging the semi-lameness and admitting that it was awesome that Will was even out there at all, they spent the ENTIRE time congratulating themselves on how hard-core and intense they were.  It was…ridiculous.  And I’m using a nice word for it.

So Bear dipped even lower in my esteem that day.  However, that said, I would really enjoy being friends with someone named Bear (just think how many conversations you could start with “Well, Bear says…”, “Bear?”, “Oh yeah, you don’t have a friend named Bear?”).  So he can come over for dinner and defend himself any day.  I’ll use this color scheme.

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