How to Create the Perfect Tablescape For Your Next Dinner Party

Throwing a dinner party is an art form all on its own. It’s an act of creation that can fill the hearts of your guests with warmth and memories for years to come. This kind of hosting takes finesse, taste and generosity.

But it doesn’t have to be difficult. 

In fact, if you’re at ease and comfortable during the party, your guests will also be relaxed. A few simple touches create a beautiful space that you and your guests can enjoy together. This kind of artistry promotes conversation and makes your delectable meal taste even better. 

The Lighting

The time and the season should greatly influence your dinner plans. If you’re throwing your get-together during the summer, there should be an abundance of natural lighting you can use to your advantage. If you’re inside, keep the curtains open and let the light pour in to reflect off the elements on the table. Consider using shimmering glassware or perhaps deeper, colored glass like cobalt blue or lemon yellow.

Have candles nearby that you can light when the sunlight fades to create an atmosphere of intimacy.

If your party is during colder months, adjust your lighting to suit the mood your striving for. You can use lower lighting from electrical sources and light candles, or keep the chandelier cheerfully blazing. 

For Starters: Food That Decorates

When your guests begin to gather, consider having a platter with fruit and cheese available while they wait for the rest of the guests or for dinner to be served. 

Nothing creates a more lovely tablescape than dusky grapes spilling over themselves, surrounded by pears, apples and berries. Leave the cheese in wedges with small knives so guests can cut their own portions. Small plates your guests can hold while mingling with each other is a necessity!

Even if it’s nothing more than water, make sure to have drinks available for thirsty guests. 

Linens

For Boho chic and charm, mix and match our hand block print linen tablecloths and napkins. You can achieve a softer, more subdued table with colors like pewter or sparrow, or use one of our more neutral tablecloths to mix with any of our napkins in more vivid colors.

A festive, vibrant look is easily achieved with a “Here Comes the Sun” tablecloth in cardinal red or tanager yellow. Match with napkins in a complementary color

Decorative Touches

Heaps of blossoms or an interesting arrangement of greenery is a lovely focal point. Think less centerpiece and more of a natural touch to bring out the beauty of your table. If you’re using the fruit platter as the decor idea, you can leave that front and center with a few blossoms tucked here and there for contrast. 

However, if the appetizer proved popular and was decimated by your hungry guests, remove the platter.

A runner of flowers or greenery that curves down the center of the table is a lovely style. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to achieve this look. You can also use accents from the seasons like pine, mini pumpkins, or small eucalyptus branches interwoven with simple white blooms. 

The benefit of a runner is you can easily place food around the decoration, or arrange the runners around serving dishes, and no one’s view is blocked from anyone they want to talk to—which is a common problem with tall centerpieces.

The Art of the Dinner Party

As life gets busier and we tend to be more isolated from each other, throwing a dinner party is an act of love. In addition to your beautiful tablescape, have some soft music playing that doesn’t interfere with the conversation but does promote a mood of friendship and serenity. 

Consider choosing a menu that can be made in advance as much as possible. This way you can mingle with your guests and make them feel welcome and relaxed. 

Be sure to find out any food allergies your guests may have or any expectations. They may think you know they’re vegan. They may be wrong.

Nothing spoils a dinner faster than not being able to serve one or more guests, so be prepared. If people can’t eat, the tablescape won’t make up the difference, no matter how elegant or charming. 

Best wishes for a fabulous party!

5 Fall Dinner Recipes Your Guests Will Love

Autumn may be the loveliest time to host a cozy supper. The fiery heat of summer is fading and the air is gentler and the light is golden. 

Outdoor entertaining is still an option and has the advantage of flickering candlelight as the sun sets sooner. As the air cools, insects make themselves scarce and we can enjoy each other’s company without suffering the presence of theirs.

It’s perfect.

It’s also a wonderful time to hit the Farmers Markets and snag some seasonal gems. You’ll get the freshest, brightest vegetables and also be supporting your local farmers. Here are several of my favorite recipes that you’ll love.

Pesto

Pesto gives a powerhouse boost of flavor to your recipes, whether you’re adding a dollop or featuring it as the main ingredient. Take a regular soup and add some pesto and you have a dish that everyone in the family will be begging for seconds!

It’s also a fairly simple process to make your own pesto at home.

Easy Homemade Basil Pesto and Pasta

This pesto is rich in flavor and super easy to make, especially during late summer / early fall when you have loads of fresh basil in your garden. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) pine nuts
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 Put all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend till smooth but still a little chunky.  

Prepare 1 box of your favorite pasta – I prefer fusilli because it holds the pesto in the curls to give you a sensational flavor with each bite. 

Toss the warm pasta with all of the pesto.  Add more olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.

Garnish with a cluster of basil leaves tucked in at the edge of the pasta, and a few sliced grape tomatoes for a pop of color, if you’d like.

 *The pesto can last in an airtight container for a week but I prefer to use it all at once so it’s super fresh. 

Minestrone Soup

This is a basic minestrone recipe, but you can use any vegetables you have on hand. Feel free to substitute chicken broth for vegetable, if you’d prefer. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup diced leeks, white part only
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Pink salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup cooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 spoonful of basil pesto per bowl, depending on taste
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When hot, add onions and stir until softened. Add the garlic, and stir for a minute. Add the rest of the vegetables through the carrot, and stir occasionally until all are softened about five minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients through the seasonings. Cook, partially covered, until all the vegetables are soft, about twenty minutes.

Add pasta, beans, and peas and cook for a few minutes longer.

Ladle the soup into bowls and swirl in the basil pesto, only going in one direction. Don’t stir it completely into the soup so a green thread of pesto shows.

Top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and basil, for a gorgeous presentation.

Roasted Vegetables 

Remember what we said about the farmers market? Roasting brings out a vegetable’s sweetness and flavor. 

You’ll want to choose vegetables that will cook together and finish in about the same amount of time. Root vegetables work particularly well together, but really, you can make almost any vegetable work. 

Simple Roasted Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs vegetables like squash, parsnips, carrots,
  • 2 medium red, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pink salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup thyme leaves, stripped from their stems for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel and cut the vegetables into equal-sized pieces, about 1-in chunks. Toss the vegetables and thyme in olive oil in a large bowl and season generously with salt and pepper.

Spread the pieces out in a single layer on sheets or shallow baking pans so that the vegetables don’t touch. Roast until the veggies are browned and just tender, about 45 minutes or so. The time will depend on your vegetable choice.

Toss veggies with additional olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with thyme for a lovely presentation.

Roasted Vegetables in Phyllo

Speaking of a beautiful presentation, you can chop up those cooled, roasted vegetables and serve them in phyllo dough cups. You’ll find phyllo dough in the frozen section of your market.

Ingredients:

  • Vegetables from the previous recipe, chopped small
  • Several sheets of phyllo dough, thawed
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheese such as Swiss, Havarti, or Gruyere 
  • Olive oil for brushing

Stack 5-7 sheets of phyllo, depending on how thick you want the vegetable tarts. Any other sheets you’re using, keep under a damp cloth.

Brush each sheet carefully with the olive oil. Take each little stack and push them into an oiled muffin tin slot. Add 1/4 cup of vegetables and sprinkle with cheese. Fold over the phyllo dough towards the middle. The vegetables will be mostly covered.

Repeat the process so you have 12 vegetable tartlets. Bake at 350 degrees until the phyllo dough is browned, about thirty minutes.

If you’re using a tart cheese like feta or goat cheese, don’t use thyme when you roast the vegetables, Instead, mince a handful of fresh dill and fold into the vegetable mixture with the cheese before you scoop it into the phyllo cups.

Serve warm.

Chicken

A few touches can make a simple chicken dish into an extraordinary feast. Here, dates and green olives make this delicious main dish memorable.

Rustic Farmhouse Chicken

This recipe was inspired by The Silver Palate’s Chicken Marbella, which I first came across in 1991! It’s been a favorite over the years and I have adapted it to make it my own for ease of prep and ingredients. This is great for a crowd and the prep the night before makes it stress-free. 

Ingredients:

  • 8 – 10 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed (I use a garlic press)
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped fresh Medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
  • 1/2  cup capers with a bit of juice
  • 6 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

 

In a large bowl combine chicken thighs, garlic, oregano, vinegar, olive oil, chopped dates, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Cover and let marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place chicken in a single layer in a 9×13 pan and spoon all the ingredients from the marinade over top, distributed equally. Sprinkle brown sugar over the chicken pieces and then pour the white wine over top and around the chicken.

Bake for 45 – 50 minutes, basting frequently with the juices from the pan. The chicken is done when a clear yellow, instead of pink, juice flows from the chicken when pricked. Transfer the chicken, olives, capers, and dates to a platter and moisten with some of the pan juices. Sprinkle parsley on top and serve the remaining sauce from the pan in a gravy boat.

This recipe can be served warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4-6 people

The pesto pasta also goes well with the chicken. Serve with a salad and loaf of crusty bread, which can soak up the juices from the rustic chicken.

We hope you enjoy these recipes and the company you keep. Put on some pleasant music, light the candles and create some lovely memories around the table with the people you love.

Bon appetit! 

Artist Spotlight: Erin Fitzpatrick

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Erin Fitzpatrick’s portraits are lush and full of color.  I LOVE everything about them – the colors, the patterns, the energy.  When looking in her subject’s soulful eyes it’s almost as if they are speaking directly to you.

Erin is a Baltimore native and graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art.  She started painting portraits in 2008 and has a significant body of work.  I am delighted I was able to ask Erin a few questions about her inspiration and process to share with you here.  Enjoy!

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  1. When did you first get interested in painting?

    I have been interested in making images since I was young, 5 years old or so. I developed my skills in high school and art school, but I didn’t really start painting until about 12 years ago. Before that, I was mostly drawing. Now I paint almost every day.

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  2. How did you settle on portraiture and painting icons?  How do you decide on subject matter?

    I’ve always been interested in making portraits because there is an unlimited supply of subject matter.  People are so interesting and I love meeting new people whenever possible. I can paint a portrait that aims to show the soul of the subject, or I can use a model to create a character. The icons are more for fun. I only sell those paintings once in a while because they are painted from found images. One day I hope to be at the level where I’m meeting these people and photographing them myself.  I have been thinking about creating limited edition boxes that include an icon painting and other handmade items, but that concept is still in the works.

    As far as choosing my subjects, these days the majority of my paintings are by commission, so the subjects are clients. When I choose someone for a personal work, I usually have some kind of mood board for the painting and I seek out friends or people on social media to model. As far as the icons I’ve chosen to paint, sometimes I select them based on a striking image and sometimes because I’m a fan. When I painted Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg, it was because I was possibly going to have the chance to meet Martha and I wanted to give her something cool (I did meet her and give her the painting!)

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  3. You use lush colors and often have gorgeous patterns in your paintings.  Have you always been attracted to colors and patterns?

    It’s funny. I took more classes in the fibers department than I did painting in art school. I took 4 semesters of weaving, not to mention several other classes in the department versus only two painting classes. I learned to dye and create textiles and studied textile design from many different cultures. At some point I asked myself, if you love this type of imagery, why aren’t you painting it? After that, pattern and color became an integral part of my work.

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  4. As someone who loves colors and patterns myself (August Table is all about patterns!), how do you decide which pattern to use in a painting and where do you get your inspiration?

    When I work with a client, I ask them about color scheme (what will look awesome in their homes) and then I make a digital collage with ideas for their patterns. We work together to select what will look best in their custom portrait. When I make my own work, I build a small set for my model to pose in. The “wallpapers” are either textiles that I’ve hung or paper that I’ve hand painted. In my last large work, I spent 20 hours hand painting a wallpaper for the photo shoot. It’s kind of tropical and was inspired by a trip to Cuba.

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  5. What is something fun about you that no one knows?

    I’ve always been a traveler. As soon as I was old enough to go somewhere on my own (17 yrs) I started exploring the country. I did two summers of Dead tour and had many adventures (and misadventures…like unknowingly spending the night with a cult in Nashville). I also got stranded in Mississippi once (22yrs) and lived in The Ole Miss Motel for a month. I still have this sense of adventure.

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Hi! I’m Erin. I decided to get rid of the stuffy third person bio and just tell you a little about myself. I’ve been painting (mostly) portraits since 2008 and now have collectors around the world. I create artworks of my own design as well as custom paintings by commission. This is my full-time job and I am currently booked for over a year (my clients are awesome).

I’ve painted a mural for Senator Kamala Harris and Martha Stewart owns one of my paintings! Oh yeah, so does Ringo Starr…like of The Beatles! How wild is that?

I love textiles, plants, patterns and interior design, and these themes often make it into my oil paintings. For my personal work, I actually build a set for the photo shoot to create a reference image, often handcrafting the items like rugs and wallpaper.

Summertime and travel are my favorite things, so you’ll catch me enjoying one of the two if I’m not painting my fingers off in my studio. The best place to check out my latest work is on my Instagram @fitzbomb

Cozy Blueberry Crisp

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Cozy, you might ask?  Yes, indeed, every bite of this blueberry crisp is pure cozy, comfort for me.  All summer long I love making berry crisps with whatever fruit I have on hand, mouthfuls of warm delicious fruit with a sweet crisp oat topping.

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My favorite go to is a blueberry crisp – blueberries are packed with nutrients so while this is dessert you can feel still really good about eating it.  Eat it on its own, pair it with vanilla ice cream, or greek yogurt.  When there are leftovers, I love it with vanilla or honey greek yogurt the next morning.

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Ingredients:

  • 6 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 lemon – for lemon zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Topping:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375 F.  Prepare casserole dish (2 qt baking dish, 9″x9″ or similar) by spraying with coconut spray or pam.

  1. Grate the rind of the lemon to get 3/4 teaspoon of zest plus squeeze half the lemon juice.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, toss the blueberries with the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, vanilla and cinnamon.  Place in your prepared dish.
  3. Combine the butter, oats, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon until crumbled.  Sprinkle over blueberries and press down slightly.
  4. Bake 35 – 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly on the sides. Cool slightly and serve warm by itself, with a vanilla ice cream or greek yogurt.

Enjoy!

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

More joy, more laughter, more love

Collectively, we are all going through a difficult time right now.  When things get difficult, regardless of what is at the root of it, I think the only salve is to create opportunities for more joy, more laughter and more love.  Connections are a basic human need.  We need each other.  For me, connections at the table with an amazing meal, simple or complex with friends and family all around, is grounding and lifts my spirits.

Think of your most memorable meals throughout your life.  Chances are there was delicious food, coupled with emotions and connections.  Perhaps there were tears, or belly aching laughter, mixed with love, friendship and contentment. To be sure, stories were told. Memories were created.

Since I am a trained artist, I approach entertaining, setting the table, menu creation and cooking all with an artist’s sensibility. I love layers, whether I am painting or setting the table.  Layers of colors, textures, flavors and sensations.  In fact, I created the term “Luxe Farmhouse” for August Table specifically to mean layers of rustic charm and simplicity mixed with elements of surprise, whether it’s a glint of shining metal and something sparkly and luxe, or a burst of intense flavor paired with a simple staple.

This weekend, try to connect with others.  Meet outside and bring your masks, practice social distancing for sure.  Studies are showing that it’s far less likely that you will get COVID-19 if you are outside, where there is a breeze.  If meal prep is not something you want to do right now, you can buy simple ingredients and assemble them in a beautiful way, or simply just buy a loaf of bread, cheese and grapes.  Break bread with others.  It’s been too long cooped up in our homes without connections.

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Photo by Inspired by This

Wishing you love, laughter and joy this weekend,
Carrie

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

 

Artist Spotlight: Lisa Krannichfeld

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Lisa Krannichfeld first caught my eye on instagram.  I’m not sure how I stumbled across her work but I was captivated from the moment I saw one of her paintings.  The boldness of color, the prints, patterns, and the electricity I felt coming off the subjects.  I simply fell in love with each piece.   Lisa’s recent bodies of work: Undomesticated Interiors and Girls and Guise are rebelling against the traditional portrayal of women of the 17th – 19th centuries as demure, decorative objects, belonging to their husbands or fathers and seeks to retell the female narrative.

Lisa’s website states “Girls and Guise references a play on words. In this context guise references both the facade created by men of the female gender, and the heavy emphasis of the patterned clothing in the pieces. Their clothes, or guises, are infused with feral and aggressive animals, a symbolic rebellion against the historical domesticated depiction of women.  The jarring, faceless compositions represent any and all women who desire to define their own perspective and create their own narratives. Intentional hand gestures hint at conviction.”

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I had the opportunity to ask Lisa a few questions and share her answers below.

1.  I understand you grew up in the south, in Little Rock, AK. At what age did you first discover you loved to create art and paint? 

Honestly, there never was a time that I remember where I wasn’t obsessed with art and creating. I remember in elementary school art class being the most magical, fun place (until our state cut out art classes from the curriculum, sadly). It was always a part of my life, however, I didn’t really commit to it being part of my professional life until my senior year in college.
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2.  Your current body of work is focused on women with deep meaning and purpose behind your intent, refuting historical portraiture of women.  Can you share a bit about this?  How did this body of work evolve?

The work first started with portraits of women done in a headshot style. I found painting honest facial expressions more interesting than just pretty faces, so I would paint anxious faces, angry faces, confused faces, defiant faces. This led to painting women in general in a more honest way, void of just physical beauty and sexual appeal.  I started expanding my compositions to the entire figure and the figure within interior spaces.
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3.  You describe your work as loose expressive portraiture and use lush colors with many patterns and prints in the mix.  What drew you to including prints in your paintings and is there meaning behind them?

There are a few reasons why I include prints and patterns in my work. I love how the order of the patterns and prints juxtapositions itself with the chaotic style of the painted areas. I like to think of it as a metaphor for all the states a woman can be in.  Women have to juggle so many roles and be mindful of so much at any one moment that it makes sense to compose them of so many different materials in my paintings. I also use a lot of patterns that have flora and fauna as a part of the prints so there’s a bit of hidden wildness to the overall experience of the painting which I think is also a metaphor for women.

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4.  What is something fun you can share about yourself that no one knows?

I love a good creaturey sci-fi thriller. I am obsessed with french pastries. I can’t whistle. I tie my shoes bunny-ears style, which apparently no one else does.

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Lisa’s work has been featured in numerous exhibitions and publications nationally and internationally including shows across the United States, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Most recently her work was chosen as the grand award winner in the 2018 60th Annual Delta Exhibition. In 2017 she won the grand award at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center Juried Exhibition, and Best in Show at the 2017 Magic City Art Connection Art Fair in Birmingham, AL.

She has had work featured in numerous worldwide publications, was the face of Saatchi Art’s Spring 2019 “Refuse to be the Muse” campaign, and has had work featured in Anthropologie. Her work is included in several private and corporate collections throughout her home state of Arkansas as well as in collections around the world.

She is currently represented by M2 Gallery in Little Rock, AR, Fort Works Art in Fort Worth, TX, and Saatchi Art with shipping worldwide.

 

 

Cocktail Spotlight – Todd Maul

With the warmer weather and eating outside more often, I like to mix things up and make fun cocktails when possible.  With this in mind,  I asked my friend and super mixologist Todd Maul what he’s been drinking during quarantine.

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Todd’s been drinking two drinks – a Mai Tai and a Negroni.  His recipes are below!  I hope they inspire you too.

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Mai Tai Recipe

Todd says the trick to a good Mai Tai is finding a good orgeat recipe.

  • 2 1/2 ounces of rum – he recommends equal parts dark and aged
  • 1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce orange clement shrub – triple sec works too
  • 1/2 ounce orgeat syrup

Mix all the ingredients and enjoy with a garnish like the one pictured above!

Negroni Recipe

Mix equal parts:

  • Gin
  • Campari
  • Sweet Vermouth
  • finish with an orange twist

According to Todd, the trick to this drink is matching up your vermouth with your gin.  Use a softer vermouth, Lustau or Dolin, with less aggressive gins.  Use Carpano Vermouth with more aggressive gins.

 

As always, please drink responsibly, stay healthy and be well.

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artist spotlight: In the studio with Donna Dodson

Many of you know that among all things tabletop, entertaining, gardening and baking, I am incredibly passionate about art and artists.  This blog is about sharing passions to inspire others and bring more joy, more love and more laughter.

It’s been a while since I have shared anything about art or artists, so I decided to turn that around and have an exciting lineup of fabulous artist spotlights for you, which will unfold over the next few weeks.

The first artist spotlight is on Donna Dodson, who I met years ago in Boston.  I reached out to Donna and asked her what she’s been working on during the pandemic and in quarantine.  I am delighted to share Alpha Female, the first sculpture in her series about the Amazons.  Donna shares her thoughts below.

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This sculpture is the first one in my new series about the Amazons. I call her the Alpha Female. She has an eagle head, because the nomadic women of the ancient steppes used female golden eagles to hunt. Also, this sculpture is dedicated to my great aunt Alice, who was one of the first 40 women to join the Women’s Auxiliary Air Corps during WW2 from Illinois. The eagle is also  a patriotic symbol honoring her military service. When I was researching the Women’s Auxiliary Air Corps, I learned that eventually it became the US Air Force, but it started out as a branch of the army, and they used Athena’s helmet as their emblem on their uniforms. Since ancient amazons had tattoos, I decided to give this sculpture a tattoo of Athena’s helmet on her calf. Athena is always portrayed with breast shield, so that I made metallic breast shields on my sculpture celebrating the lineage of amazing women warriors from ancient times to the modern era. This sculpture has shoes similar to the ones I found in historic photographs of women in uniform during WW2. And the women are always dressed in skirts, never pants.

Here is a video of Donna in the studio that was created for International Sculpture Day, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wI-tbncf_WQ

 

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Donna Dodson is an American sculptor who has been honored with solo shows nationwide for her artwork. In addition her monumental works have been exhibited internationally in sculpture parks and museums. In 2015, Donna participated in a residency in Cusco Peru at the Escuela de Bellas Artes and international exchange exhibition at Museo Convento de Santo Domingo Qorikancha. In 2016 she had her first solo museum show of “Mermaids” at the New Bedford Art Museum. In 2017, Donna was invited to the International Wood Sculpture Symposium in Ringkoebing Denmark. In 2018, her life size chess set, Match of the Matriarchs premiered at the Boston Sculptors Gallery. From 2017-2019, Dodson’s solo show Zodiac was on a national museum tour.

Dodson has won grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the New Hampshire Guild of Woodworkers and the George Sugarman Foundation. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Provincetown Art Museum, the Art Complex Museum and the Fuller Craft Museum in Massachusetts and the Davistown Museum in Maine. Donna’s work has been reviewed in the Boston Globe, Sculpture Magazine and Artnet.

Dodson is a graduate of Wellesley College. Dodson enjoys public speaking, and has been a guest speaker at conferences and panels in museums and universities throughout North America. Donna regularly contributes articles to newspapers, magazines and blogs that demonstrate the economic impact and global reach of the arts sector. She recently contributed an Introduction to the monograph “The Contemporary Art of Nature: Mammals.”

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dreams

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This smoothie is a dream in a glass.  It tastes like dessert but is made from healthy ingredients so it is 100% guilt free.  Peanut butter and chocolate are one of my favorite combinations of all time.  I always have the basic ingredients in the pantry so that I can make this smoothie for breakfast, lunch or a snack any day.

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The banana can be fresh or frozen.  If fresh, I add more ice.  If frozen, I use less.  I always have bananas on the counter and a bag of peeled frozen bananas in the freezer.  Dates are a must have as well.  Get the fresh Medjool dates and remember to remove the pits.

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For the protein powder, I use the chocolate flavored Complete by Juice Plus, but you can use whatever protein powder you have on hand.  The cacao nibs are for sprinkling on top or for adding an extra spoonful to the glass for a little crunch.

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Ingredients:

1 ripe banana (fresh or frozen)
2-3 dates (pits removed)
1 scoop chocolate protein powder (I use Complete by Juice Plus)
2 tablespoons cacao powder
2 tablespoons peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
2 tablespoons oats (uncooked oatmeal)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon maple syrup
8 oz oat milk (or other milk of your choice)
2 cups ice cubes

Cacao nibs for topping

Put all of the ingredients in a high speed blender (I use a vitamix) and blend until the smoothie is a rich and thick consistency, ensuring the dates and oats are fully blended.  Pour into a tall glass and enjoy with cacao nibs sprinkled on top.

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Enjoy!

Stay safe and be well.

33D3287D-7494-4CBE-894B-A02DF7A5768D
Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

 

Your Spring Table #togetherapart

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This year your Spring table is no doubt going to be different than years past as we cannot host gatherings of friends and family at our tables.   We also are seeing a limited supply of certain items in the grocery store, so planning more extensive menus can be tricky.

I would suggest simplifying this year.  Make it easy on yourself, and those at home with you, by pulling together a simple menu, while still making the occasion feel extra special.  Pull out those linen napkins and a tablecloth if you have them.

If not, check out our offerings at August Table, we can get them to you!  Put flowers on the table.  If you have a yard, cut flowers or branches and put them in a vase, jar or anything fun.  Mix up your prints, plates and cutlery for a fun boho look.

Now what to serve?

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Caramelized Shallot and Gruyere Quiche with Rosemary Crust

 

You can dress a quiche up and make it very elegant with simple ingredients on hand and add a green salad and fruit salad and you’re good to go.

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Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

 

As with any of these recipes and ideas you can substitute ingredients for what you have on hand.  No eggs?  Buy a carton of egg beaters and use those.  No fresh veggies?  A bag of frozen broccoli or spinach makes a delicious quiche!  I’ve noticed that if the milk is not in stock at the store they likely have oat milk or almond milk.  You can use any milk substitute – just make sure you get the plain flavor.  You get the idea.  Be creative.

In addition to quiche you can throw together a board and have fun with it.

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Ultimate Spring Brunch Board by Half Baked Harvest

 

I also love the idea and look of a bagel board.  Make your Easter brunch easy.

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Bagel and Smoked Salmon Board by Half Baked Harvest

 

Another idea – create a yogurt parfait station with yogurt, fruit and granola.  Other fun items to consider: muffins of various flavors, hard boiled eggs or deviled eggs.  Delicious and fun to assemble.

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Yogurt Bowls by Sugar and Charm

 

You can add different cereals too…

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Breakfast Parfait Board by Barefeet in the Kitchen 

 

Have a good week.

Stay safe and be well.

33D3287D-7494-4CBE-894B-A02DF7A5768D
Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

 

Going Bananas?

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Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding by The Recipe Critic

The days are starting to blend together as we seem to be hunkering down for a long stretch of quarantine.  Like most people, I am trying to make do and be creative in the kitchen while using readily available ingredients that we have on hand.

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Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Banana Bread by Half Baked Harvest

Bananas, one such ingredient, seem to still be easily found at the supermarket; yet, I’ve noticed that they, for the most part, come nearly banana bread ready, peppered with brown spots.  This is the perfect time to grab as many bunches as you can.  You can peel a bunch and freeze the bananas for smoothies, banana ice cream and other recipes for later, and whip up a  batch  of banana pancakes or banana bread today.

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Banana Smoothie by Kristine's Kitchen

I have included a variety of recipes that use bananas for you here.  Also, some ingredients are hard to come by these days… like eggs!  You can buy a carton of egg beaters or the like to keep on hand for everything from banana bread, quiche to whipping up scrambled eggs.

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Ricotta Chocolate Chip Banana and Chia Pancakes by Half Baked Harvest

Bananas in pancakes are a natural pairing that give you extra nutrients and flavor.

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Banana Oatmeal Pancakes by Taste of Home

Did you know that you can blend frozen bananas and make the most delicious creamy ice cream without any other ingredients?  Or just add in whatever additional flavors you like: peanut butter and chocolate, yes please!; strawberries blended in and sliced on top with banana; coffee… oh yes!; vanilla, definitely… the possibilities are endless.

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One-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream  by the NY Times

Banana ice cream paired with chia pudding?  Check it out…

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Peanut & Maca Banana Ice Cream by Nadia Damaso 

Have you ever had that moment when you bite into a warm, freshly baked piece of banana bread and the flavors explode in your mouth and you think you’ve hit nirvana?  The recipes following can have that effect, just a warning.

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Chocolate Chip and Almond Butter Banana Bread by Half Baked Harvest

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Banana Buttermilk Bread by Local Milk 

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Banana Bread Pudding by Tornadough Alli

Enjoy and stay safe my friends!

33D3287D-7494-4CBE-894B-A02DF7A5768D
Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

 

Seeing the Goodness

 

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Shutterstock is offering free backgrounds for your virtual calls!

How are you doing?  I can imagine your days are filled with highs and lows, anxiety, coupled with feelings of joy, love, fear and worry, perhaps with moments of boredom in the mix, as you adapt to a new and different normal.

Uncertainty is stressful.  The world is facing an economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic is the deadliest threat to ordinary life that we have experienced in modern history.  BUT we are experiencing this adversity collectively. We cannot let fear consume us.  We will get through this.  We will beat the virus.  The economy will bounce back.  We need to shift our fear into hope, faith and courage.

Be present.  Dig Deep.  Make choices with love, practice kindness, to yourself and others.  Be grateful.  We owe so much to the healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, hospital staff, truck drivers, grocery store clerks and everyone on the front lines who are working on our behalf.

This global pandemic is shifting us, shifting our daily lives, shifting our priorities and shifting the way we work, live and interact.  This is an unprecedented time for us globally.  Focus on your health, both physical and mental.  If you are experiencing anxiety, address it.  Self-care is essential during this time. Everything is upside down with most of the world forced to stay home.

These are dark days indeed, but I am seeing the goodness that is rising up around us.  We may be forced to be apart but we are coming together as one in so many new ways.

When the school systems closed down, their first concern was to make sure the children that relied on school lunches for food did not go hungry. (If you are able, consider making a gift to #nokidhungry.)  Only after local school systems figured out how to bag breakfasts and lunches and disseminate them safely did they focus on the learning.  Once they did, they offered chrome books for loan to the families that did not have computers at home, and internet providers were offering free wifi.

I worked for a decade trying to make change in the education system with the ArtScience Prize and it’s difficult.  We did a lot of good but shifting schools and systems to make big changes is very, very hard.  Yet in a matter of weeks, across the globe, education systems quickly shifted to remote learning almost overnight.  This will no doubt help us conceive new ways to educate equitably going forward.

Across the US people of all ages are banding together to make face masks for our doctors, nurses, emergency care workers, truck drivers and grocery store workers.  People are gathering together in new ways both virtually and in person.  There are online social cocktail hours.  There are gatherings of neighborhoods from their balconies, windows and driveways in order to interact.

In Arlington, MA the community has launched 6 Feet at 6PM to connect as a community, visually and virtually, each evening at 6pm.  They are asking everyone to come out of their homes or look out their windows to wave to neighbors in an effort to check in with each other at a safe distance to make sure “we are all OK as a community.” #Arlington6At6

In Italy people are coming together for song from their windows and balconies, here is one hauntingly beautiful video.  One of the people who sang wrote “Imagine the whole world singing like this from their houses. No hate, no nothing. Just unified for once. Love this so much,”

Remember during this time filled with anxiety, it’s important to move your body, practice self care and eat healthy.   Yogaworks is offering free virtual yoga classes with teachers from across the US.  This morning I took a virtual class from an instructor in Atlanta and had others participating from India, Norway, Sweden, Texas and more.  86 people turned on their computers and practiced yoga at the same time.  Amazing.  You should try it.  If you are new to yoga, it’s ok there are classes for everyone.

This is also a time to try something new, alone or with your family.  Faer is painting every day and taking online piano lessons.  Ellie has taken up embroidery  and is creating beautiful things.  Alexander is learning new skateboard tricks.

Get creative.  Grab a book and read.  Listen to music.  Pull out your mixer and bake something.  Embrace this time with your immediate family and friends, whoever you are with during this time.  Connections are important.  Conversations are important, especially with our children to help them process this historic time with all of the ambiguity and unknowns.

It’s also important to get out in nature if you can safely do this.  Look at the clouds.  Watch the wind in the trees. Take a deep breath.  Listen to the birds.  Be happy that you are alive.

I’ll close with the same words the yoga instructor said this morning as she ended class:

May you be happy.  May you be healthy.  May you prosper in ways that bring you joy.  May we all be free.  I love you. Namaste.

33D3287D-7494-4CBE-894B-A02DF7A5768D
Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here.