"We are what we believe we are."
C.S. Lewis

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mop Philosophy Monday

 I spent last week polishing and scrubbing in anticipation of our weekend dinner party to celebrate our dear friend Christopher on his birthday.
Hosting a party like this is terrific motivation to get the whole house organized, bring in new glassware and linens and stock up at The Happy Store.  I had so much fun getting ready for the party but I had some help from some blogging friends...
 Jennifer, who writes the wonderful blog A Well Styled Life, wrote such a helpful post on hosting a sit-down dinner party, I loved it!
I decided to organize my party over the course of two days, taking many of her suggestions and running with them... like setting the table the night before and bringing in flowers a couple of days ahead of the party.  Thank you Jennifer!
 I set up this bar the day before as well, and it's a good thing I take pictures for this blog because I realized my Spode vase looked really sad without some spring-like branches of forsythia poking out of it.
That's better.

 When I went to my most favourite flower shop in the world, Sweet Violets, to arrange some flowers for the table I asked for help in acquiring a house plant for a corner of the sitting room that needed a little life... fingers crossed I won't kill this plant.
 They did such a terrific job with the flowers for our dining table, I asked for green, white and a bit of coral, look how perfect:
 I wanted something simple and spring-like for the piano in our foyer and they came up with the perfect arrangement of branches arching their way out of a simple vessel:
 I sent MrBP to search for pansies on Saturday morning which he then arranged in the urns I've popped on either side of our front door.  The branches add a bit of height and drama... (you can only see half of the urn because I took this picture in my pyjamas and I thought I'd spare my neighbours my leopard print robe).
 Another shot of green was the Dyptique candle in fig that anchored the cocktail table arrangement.  For many years I didn't think much about candles as accessories when entertaining but now they are on my radar... wait until you see the new candle arrangements in the dining room...
 But first, can we talk about table linens?  I was trudging all over Hell's Half Acre last week looking for a good heavy linen or cotton tablecloth in a solid colour.  It was so depressing and exhausting, I couldn't find anything.  Everything is polyester or a combination of polyester and cotton and I can't stand the slippery feel.
So I trotted over to the local fabric store (which has slim pickings as far as natural fabrics are concerned) and managed to find a new bolt of thick celadon green cotton that was marked down to $5 a metre for some insane reason.
My helper.
 The sewing went quickly for once and I made up extra large napkins which MrBP loved.

The day before our party I went searching for brass candle holders to light up the dining room.  The lighting in that room is an issue, in fact we're thinking of installing a much bigger chandelier over the table, hanging low and on a dimmer of course.  Whether we accomplish that or not I knew I wanted to incorporate some gorgeous candlelight.
Initially I found some colonial style brass candle holders, heavy and from England but let's face it: Boring!  Then I walked into one of the dusty rooms of the antique market and actually gasped when I saw a pair of absolutely mad candelabras:

 Right there in the shop I had what can only be described as a What Would Ellie Do moment.  Ellie writes one of my most favourite blogs ever, Have Some Decorum.  Slowly but surely she is teaching me how to accessorize my home, make pesto, have a positive attitude to life even when it punches you in the face and also the importance of gilt mirrors.
Ellie has taught me well and those lessons gave me the courage to buy the Italian candelabras that I really loved... it is this kind of accessorizing that really personalizes a home and makes it interesting... yes Ellie taught me that.  Thank you Ellie.
I had some trouble sourcing ivory candles but I did find some in the green shade that was a part of my theme for the evening, here they are lit early in the afternoon, a test run:
How about the food?  There was no crying in the kitchen I am happy to report.  I decided to make the provence chicken that was featured in last week's NYT magazine.
 What a delicious recipe and dead easy.  I prepped the lemons, shallots and garlic cloves ahead of time...
 ...bought a few baguettes...
 ...and had the chicken in the oven when everyone arrived.
 I made a swiss chard and kale salad with a shallot-dijon vinaigrette and asked my friends to bring the other courses: a second salad, a cheese platter appetizer tray and a cheesecake for dessert.
 It was one of those parties that was slightly mad in the most fun way possible, and I think it was the candelabras.  Before dinner my friends grabbed them and placed them on the table, they looked fabulous lighting up the food and the laughing faces.

I'm planning my next dinner party already and in the meantime I need to embark on some spring cleaning.  The sun is out today and I can finally see the dust in the house properly, never have I looked so forward to spring and the cleaning that goes with it.
I hope your week is off to a great start Dollfaces!
xoxDani

36 comments:

  1. Oh you have such a great eye for detail Dani....love the antique candalabras! That add such ambiance....lighting is critical and we suffer from poor lighting here in our dark bungalow. It drives me crazy!
    i am like you in that I do a deep clean before a party...it is surprising how dusty a house can get over the winter. The light shining through dirty windows reminds me that I need to call and arrange for the window washer...neither my husband or I like to climb on ladders for fear of falling!
    I read both those blogs too....isn't it marvellous how much we can learn from each other ?

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    1. Hostess I'll be phoning the window washers once our garden is finished, ladders are very dangerous, our dear Christopher fell off of one a couple of years ago and shattered his leg, and this winter MrBP had a giant chunk of ice clock him on the head while he was on a ladder below the copper roof, trying to clean the windows himself...5 stitches! Neither of these fellows is allowed near a ladder now.

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  2. Love this post Dani, but then I do love entertaining chat. Where to start - menu was fabulous, love the new candelabras SO MUCH! And I think the coloured candles look perfect, Eddie Ross who used to write a good blog (he hasn't updated it for over a year, so I think he's now stopped) used to do the best table settings with coloured candles, and they always looked brilliant. I do love a lot of candles for a dinner party - honestly, it's the cheapest and easiest way to add atmosphere and cover up all those blank bits of the house where you're still trying to finish off decor post-renovation. It all looks fabulous!
    I am doing a bit of Autumn organising myself - cleaning out the wardrobes of outgrown or worn out clothes and bed linen, and I've finally given away the nappy bag (diaper bag), and stash of cot linens. Not sure why I had that still shoved in a cupboard - definitely not going to need it again, and I haven't used the nappy bag in a year and a half at least. It's very satisfying to do a bit of cleaning and polishing… and I have to get onto organising a dinner party of my own - it's been too long!

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    1. Heidi oh the nappy bag, end of an era there! I don't know that blog, I'll look it up. Thank you! There's always so much sorting to do with growing kids in the house, my youngest has grown like a weed this winter and I just did a charity run of clothes last week... you'll be happy for the change of autumn after that scorching summer!

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  3. ...and not even a barely perceptible nod to GSL re lighting???? everything looking fab here Dani and thanks for introducing me to Ellie. Your tables are suddenly showing great balance too...

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    1. G I am remiss!
      In fact I did think of you when I had the dimmer installed on our current chandelier but you would still not be pleased, it hangs too high above the table... if I can find a new fixture there I might avoid a GSL scolding. ;)

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  4. Love the candelabras but I must by a pyromanic bc I love anything candle related.

    I think your neighbours will like your leopard print I know I won't mind!!

    I do love a dinner party but I love how everyone does dinner parties ever so slightly different. I used to love the show come dine with me - its a competitive thing where contestants hold dinner parties and it is so funny and interesting. I have watched the uk, french version and aussie version and they are so similar and yet so different.

    The table cloth looks great and reminds me to get back into sewing!

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    1. Naomi you would love the leopard robe it's true! That show sounds so fun, I'd love to see it.
      The tablecloth was really easy to sew up, I have my machine in the laundry now at a better table, the set-up makes a difference I find... these days we just have to make things ourselves due to the utter rubbish for sale in the shops.

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    2. Naomi, in Germany they also have a celebrity version of Come Dine With Me - just a lot of C, maybe B-list celebs, but I liked seeing bits of their homes. Dani, there has also been a Canadian version, I've seen it on the W channel.

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  5. Oh, the candelabras! sheer heaven! It really sounds like you have mastered the dinner party.

    We're on the road now, I've been meaning to try that chicken too and will do as soon as we get home.

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    1. Fred I hope the days of crying in the kitchen are well behind me ;)
      It's a great recipe you'll love it, similar to Nigella's lemon chicken but very Provence with the flavours. And of course it uses vermouth so obviously it was lovely.
      Safe travels.

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  6. What a happy post and aren't you glad I wasn't with you in that antique store or I might have wrestled you for them - they are fantastic - just what was needed!!! Smart, smart, smart! Our dining room table it so massive, I really need to have linens made, but did I tell you what I did for our fancy Christmas dinner party for 12 - I used my white linen duvet cover! It seems that a queen-sized duvet fits my table perfectly! Who knew? We have been invited to so may in the coming weeks, but you have me itching to organize one soon - perhaps late May or June! I always set my table the night before because I just love to play with it all and do mad combinations! And now you have me jonesing for forsythia branches and pussy willows! I am going to source them this week! Everything about this post made me happy, happy, happy, so thank you, including seeing my favourite book, novel interiors, tucked under the new plant! Mwah!

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    1. Wendy it would have been extreme comedy our wrestling fight!
      I think the duvet is a good solution for your table, why not? Setting the table the night before is key. Made things way more fun.
      Luff that book Novel Interiors, thanks for recommending it to me xox

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  7. Those candelabras!!! I am swooning. They are gorgeous.

    I love having plants in the house. Mine must live by a simple rule - water comes once a week. If they cannot abide my schedule, they don't last long!

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    1. DF I am famous for killing plants and then Christopher comes to rescue them and they join his collection. I'm going to give this one plant my best go! xx

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  8. Gorgeous spring party! So glad no tears dinner-- simple is best. I can't believe you just whipped up that table cloth and napkins at the last minute. Truly impressive! I have a couple of block printed Indian cloths I like, but usually I have a rather bare table with only a peruvian hand woven runner and the massive candlesticks MLane made, always beeswax candles.

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    1. Your table sounds amazing, I adore those block printed cloths too. Yes no more tears! :)

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  9. Hi Dani, we just hosted our dinner club for the first time, so our house is also dust-free, for now. The dinner club is a great idea - we are guaranteed at least 4 sit-down dinners a year, as each couple takes a turn. We chose Turkey as our theme and did the main courses, everyone else did appetizers, starter and dessert.

    Your menu sounds delicious, I'm sure Christopher was delighted with his special party.

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    1. Patricia your dinner club sounds like so much fun! Christopher had a wonderful time, he is a darling friend and I really love to celebrate his birthday, he has a great spirit that one. xx

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    2. Patricia - we and five other couples go house to house all year long; it is great fun.. of course we see other people and do other dinners, but this is our core group and I always look forward to the food and fun!

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    3. Wendy that's a great group of friends you have... and they dance!

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  10. You know how much I love a dinner party and this one looks fabulous. Although-confession: my favorite napkins are of a sunbrella fabric my mom made for me. They are as polyestered as it gets. I love those crazy candelabras and I think Ellie will so approve. My dinner parties take about 5 days of prep which might sound crazy but it allows me to really enjoy the whole thing. Looks like such a nice party.

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    1. Stephen Andrew, well Sunbrella fabric has a grip to it and almost a linen texture, much nicer than the polyester that I found, also they would never ever hold a stain? How smart. Oh my gosh I should have mentioned your dinner parties as well because you always inspire me no matter what you do, and remember your bar covered in greenery? Fabulous!
      5 days, well why not, the anticipation is half the fun. xx

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  11. Dani, Those candelabras are likely the best investment you will ever make and adore them forever!!
    Creative Candles I highly recommend. Many designers use them and they are made right here in Kansas City! Your party looks like so much fun, and absolute delight!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena
    Artist Nathaniel Galka

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    1. Thank you Karena and thank you for that tip I will look for Creative Candles :) xo

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  12. What a gorgeous dinner party. And the candelabras is are exquisite! I'm so happy it's spring and I finally have some domestic energy once again. I love this time of year.

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    1. Jen it's almost worth it to live through the brutal winter for the sheer joy of experiencing spring... in life the contrasts do bring happiness.
      So happy I bought the candelabras as opposed to the boring simple ones that gave me zero thrill. xx

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  13. Beautiful!!! The next time you are in New York, you need to visit the fabric stores - natural fabrics for miles and miles!!

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    1. Louise that is such a good idea, thank you I'm tucking that one away. We need to get back to NYC soon, it's so close. I hope you're well and enjoying the spring xo

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  14. You've captured all of the excitement of a dinner party perfectly in this post, and there's nothing nicer than dining by candlelight. I cannot tell you how many we burn during an evening's dinner party because I don't want to think about the cost. Denial is everything.

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    1. CD denial is key! Worth it for creating those memories and cementing friendships.
      A dinner party at one time gave me stress but I've had a complete turnaround and now I just find it exciting and so fun... life is short, we must live it as well as we can and damn the candle costs ;) xx

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  15. I love those candelabra, especially in the context of your classical and dignified house. I also love the way you found the freedom to go for it. I too have learned things from other bloggers. Color stories, from you. So much from Imogen Lampert, Grechen, the list goes on. I am so happy that you (and I) are learning new things always.

    I bet the party was a blast in part because you felt free. <3

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  16. What a tremendously elegant dinner party. It looks like you thought of every detail. I'm sure your guests enjoyed all of your gracious efforts. And that candelabra, wow! What a wonderful find!

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  17. Hello Dani,

    How delighted your guests must have been with all the effort that you made on their behalf. The house looks positively gleaming and the table decorations so elegant. You have paid attention to every detail and the mix of old and new works so beautifully together.

    The candelabra are a great find. Just our kind of thing. You would have to be sure that they were still there after we had left!

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  18. Such a gorgeous Party!! Thanks for the mention. I so agree about the lack of quality table linens. They are scratchy and non absorbant at best!! The caldeabra was a score! Fabulous looking.Giving dinner paerties is so much fun and you look like a hostess extraordinaire!!

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  19. Dani, Nothing better than a dinner party at home. I think it's such a generous gift to your friends and the best way to enjoy your home and life!! I love your new candelabras and the green candles are pretty in them. Isn't Ellie's blog the best? I am so behind I have to get over there. x Kim

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