Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Captivating the Coterie

We have learned in our family that if everyone cooks, prepares, and sets, then we will have a captivating and broad culinary feast  that will include all delectable delights.

On these occasions when everyone is cooking and checking, dicing and researching, someone has to set the table. So... based on who sets the table will actually determine how the dinner not only functions but also how it is perceived, (as in lets hurry and eat), or my version (lets stay for awhile).

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From the darling movie 'Kate and Leopold', Leopold tells Kate...  "Food should be the result of reflection and study..." and so it is with 'Captivating the Coterie'.

Captivating-1. to attract and hold the attention or interest of, as by beauty or excellence; enchant: Her blue eyes and red hair captivated him.
Hence the whole idea of having family meals together... Think of what we can accomplish in all our relationships once the table is set.  Wasn't it Ester who put together the life saving feast that saved her people?
Coterie [koh-tuh-ree] 1. a group of people who associate closely. 2.an exclusive group; clique. 
Coterie also means the like minded people... and for me... those that love and share similar passions.

At our house the throw together table means, "get the fun napkins" and that becomes the table setting statement. It actually signifies 'something special is happening or going to happpen'.

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One of my favorite breakfast foods...fresh strawberries, bananas, coconut, and macadamia nuts.

Simple can be intentional and captivating at the same time.

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All things are created spiritually first...in our minds and hearts. So, just as we think, plan and decide in our minds what we will eat and drink, we can apply the same principle to the table setting. You wouldn't forget a special ingredient in a favorite dish, hence the table needs the same planning and thought. If you find that your table is being neglected or at the last minute your rushing to bring together that vision you had, but didn't gather what you needed or wanted, try getting a large attractive wicker basket and begin gathering items as you pass by, this will help when the time comes to set the table.

When we incorporate the creative parts of our being into something so constant and necessary as eating, we experience joy. I challenge you to try this... and promise you that a very special joy will come and not just because your table looks beautiful...but because you have captivated the coterie. Then watch how the meal unfolds...

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Really a little... and I mean tiny bit... of planning can change the whole effect (power to produce results), affect (to impress the mind or move the feelings of...), and experience (encountering).
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So here I'd like to give some of my personal tips on the expandable table. Which in my house is important because we can go from 3-11 people everyday, and on special occasions 18-25 maybe once a month.
BIG TIP: I like to have a basic pallet of dishes and service ware to work from like white then I can accent with decorative dishes depending on the occasion. Here are some new dishes that are trending right now from West Elm and of course Anthropologie.
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With decorative plates like these you don't need a whole set...I kind of look at these plates as a spice item, you only need a few pieces to heightened the fusion into your table setting.
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Below is a collection I am so drawn to. It feels like vintage, new cottage chic/grandma's old swag mixed with chinoiserie and botanical...hummm!
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And here I tried my hand at mixing patterns with some vintage dishes I'm selling on etsy! I hope to begin a collection of individual settings that can be mixed and matched.
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BIG TIP: Or you go with nothing matching, as in all the settings are different. Caution- this takes some serious moxie to pull off.
The lacey rocks below I have used for so many merchandising installations and I brought them home for a Easter table setting that just kept evolving from simple to elaborate.
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There is always that decision as to whether to use a table cloth or not. Do! Or NOT do! Paper, fabric, flowers, boards, place mats, all work to add comfort and interest. A wonderful trick is juxtaposition (placing side by side) totally different things. It works well if you have an old table and new dishes, or vice versa.
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Both these patterns tempt me to use table cloths in my settings more than I do...but atlas, we know that is not always practical, so I usually reserve this kind of drama for the holidays.
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BIG TIP: Ikea sells this great set of kitchen utensils for $.99. So if you buy several sets you'll have what you need to put together a cohesive setting. This was a great discovery for me because I was always so distracted when the miss matched serving spoons came out and I would cringe at the old ugly silver spoon with black handle that was meant for the bean pot or camping.

AKUT 3-piece kitchen utensil set IKEA Gentle to pots and pans with non-stick coating.

Here is where I dropped the ball for so long...I never had matching tongs, and you can find them for as little as $.99 on up but these from Ikea sell for $4.99.Then again don't you hate when your tongs are way too big for the dish or better yet too small and they fall in!  If you invest in different sizes you will always have the right pair that will fit the scale of the serving dish which is nice...

IKEA 365+ HJÄLTE Tongs IKEA Gentle to pots and pans with non-stick coating. Materials in the handle provide a firm grip.
Also this set of 3 trivets from Ikea sell for $2.99 and sure beat the old food smeared pot holders.

I can' help but get all mushy inside when I think of lighting... good background music...and the rest...

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A man seldom thinks with more earnestness of anything than he does of his dinner.Samuel Johnson
One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti
One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. —-Virginia Woolf
Oh... the table..., neglected for the mear satiating urge. Vicki Stecher

Remember this can be applied to 'Captivate the Coterie' in alfresco dinning as well.

 Visit me on pinterest: alfresco, and captivating the coterie for some amazing inspiring table settings. Also my new shop homevestures on etsy for vintage items. Vicki Stecher on spoonflower to check out some fabric designs I've been working on.