Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tablesetting - it's not just a chore anymore!

I was watching "The Sound of Music" (arguably one of the greatest movies of all times), and one of the best songs is My Favorite Things! We all have favorite things (well, all women do at least!) and I could blog for years about my favorites! Seems that things that used to be a drudgery, like cleaning the bathroom, making the bed, and even setting the table, are now some of my favorite things to do.

Why in heaven's name, do you ask??? Well, I make these otherwise monotonous and boring tasks into a game, and try to "one-up" myself every time! How beautiful can I make this? How can I change this around? What can I do better than Martha Stewart? Turns out, and awful lot!! And, without a team of highly paid assistants!

Table settings used to be a real art form. Back in the day when even middle-class folks had servants to do every task, it seemed logical to have a different sterling fork and spoon for each food type or task. Multiple china patterns were de rigeur - breakfast sets, tea sets, formal china, Christmas china, and everyday dishes! Buckingham Palace has a team of experts, with rulers measuring each knife, fork, plate and goblet at a table set for 75 and more! The White House has social secretaries brimming with ideas for each party, and a debate on which china to use? The Regan Red? Eisenhower floral? Kennedy blue? Decisions, decisions! Sandra Lee on the Food Network calls her "Tablescapes" and changes both her kitchen and tablesettings for each episode.

I've always loved dishes! My grandmother let me "play" in her china hutch and had so many beautiful and interesting dishes! Her white porcelain nut cups, each one with a different porcelain flower and place for a place card were my very favorite! She had 20 hand-painted dessert plates, each one with a different "water colored" flower that she would use for family birthday parties. Of course, I got to pick which flowered plate I wanted my slice of cake (with the frosting rose) to enjoy! She was the person who took me to Dayton's as a young girl to "Pick Your Pattern". I chose a very elaborate French pattern covered in pink roses and ribbons. No surprise! I still treasure both the memory and the china pattern to this day!

My favorite aunties who lived here in Denver also had a china hutch that made me giddy with delight! From crystal napkin rings decorated with birds, to antique glasses with grapevines & roses etched at the brim, their extensive china & silver collections had me racing to set the table! Which pattern could we use today? Can we add flowers from the garden for a centerpiece? Sweetly, their answer was always "yes"!

When living in Atlanta, I was treated to a visit at Beverly Bremer Silver Shop! I had no idea what this magical place was! Mrs. Bremer is the "matriarch" of estate silver, and her shop is a tribute to the art of entertaining! How can you fall in love with a silver spoon? Easily, especially when she shares the history, the art of silversmiths, and the genteel art of hospitality! Actually, everything DOES taste better with a sterling fork!

Maybe it's not so much the china pattern, shining sterling flatware, or gleaming crystal that I really love? Maybe it's the sweet memories of those special people who taught me the joy of creating special occasions? Because that is the occupation that enchants me today!