Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dinners for Two

An Elegant Dinner for Two in the Family Room

I love to set a beautiful table and I don't save this activity for big family holiday meals or fancy dinner parties.  I set a pretty table every night.  I don't think my husband, or my kids when they were at home, ever ate with the table set the same way, ever.  I reuse everything but there will never be the exact combination of linens, flatware, dishes, glasses, salt & peppers...   What makes it all the more fun is that my husband enjoys and appreciates the trouble I go to to set a lovely table.

I also like to vary where we eat!  Even if you have a small home, you can change it around - eat on the porch or patio, in the family room or den, in the yard with a table set up on the grass, even in the bedroom.  This somewhat elegant table setting is in our family room.  It starts with layered linens.  A base cloth that is actually a throw, with a runner I bought in Egypt when I was 16 that's a hand-woven silk shawl, and on top, ivory-colored crocheted place mats.  Napkins are new gold-brown damask and flatware is a simple 60's gold electroplate pattern.

The plates are Mason's "Leeds Luster," one of my favorite sets.  You can tell how popular a pattern was when it was new by how many different pieces it has.  Once the company knew a pattern was favored, they would add more pieces to keep it selling.  In this set I have egg cups, demitasse cups and saucers, several sizes of oval, round, and rectangular platters, rimmed soups, etc.

 The white and red wine glasses are antique pressed glass.  I like to use a tumbler for red even for an elegant dinner.  That's the beauty of it.  You can mix fancy and plain, vintage and new, expensive and bargain. The water glasses are part of a Victoria pitcher, tray, and 8 glasses set that I found years ago at Austin's "Citywide Garage Sale."

At the tip of the dinner fork is a gold-trimmed glass butter pat that I used in this setting for salts.  The white is a plain sea salt and the black is a wonderful smoked sea salt from Hawaiian Volcano Sea Salt company.  I set a little ebony and mother-of-pearl spoon above the salt dish, which was probably made to be used with caviar. Be creative - use a pie server for sliced tomatoes, balloon wine glasses for juice, put mashed potatoes & gravy in a divided vegetable dish.

For the dessert course, I switched to square plates.  This shape was probably meant for serving cookies or tea sandwiches.  I love to use small serving pieces such as these squares ones and small oval platters as dinner plates, for salads, or for dessert and always keep my eye out for them whenever I'm out antiquing.  Gold-rimmed oval bowls are on each plate for ice cream and demitasse cups and saucers are added for that double shot of decaf espresso.

Romantic Dinner for Two in the Bedroom

If you have a table in your bedroom large enough for two dinner settings, use it once in a while!  For this "just the two of us" dinner I used a romantic antique lace cloth, white hand-embroidered organdy napkins, and instead of a napkin ring a real orchid blossom just sitting on the napkin.  

The china is Spode's Billingsly Rose.  I used the dinner plates, cream soup bowls, and their under plates.

Flatware is the Gorham King Edward sterling that I inherited from my mother.  I used the luncheon size dinner knives and forks since that's the size she collected, the pastry forks (for dessert), and the cream soup spoons.  

At the top of the plates are antique Mother-of-Pearl knife and fork sets, originally used at tea time, that I used for our butter fried goat cheese medallion appetizers.

Between the dinner plates and soup under plates are antique round doilies that I got at the Alexandra Palace show, fondly referred to as "Ally Pally," in London.  I got two dozen, all different and from different dealers.  They add femininity, which a "romantic" table setting needs.

Quiet Dinner for Two in the Entry

I love the really old transferware patterns that are only one color: brown, red which is sometimes called pink, the ever popular blue, and in this setting, black.  Whenever I spot 10" dinner plates at a reasonable price, I buy them to mix and match.  The most I generally buy, if available, are three of a kind.  I use these mini-sets sometimes for my dinners for two.  I use the third one as a platter.  For this dinner I'm using an oval covered bowl for our bouillabaisse with dinner plates and soup plates.  Also in this setting are mother-of-pearl knives and forks, with silverplate soup spoons; etched crystal water glasses and sherbert bowls that I used for shrimp cocktails, that have square black glass bases; over-sized vintage white hem-stitched damask napkins and antique silverplate napkin rings

For dessert, I switched to 9" oval "platters," demitasse cups and saucers, mother-of-pearl knives and forks, and little sherry glasses for after-dinner liqueurs.

The liqueur options are in antique pressed glass decanters from Portobello Road that are all a small size.  The tallest is about 9".  I had in mind collecting enough to use as individual wine decanters at a fancy dinner party, but never quite found enough.  I'm still looking tho!

Casual Dinner for Two in the "Library"

For this dinner in the hallway that we call the library, I used a vintage multicolor transferware called Rural Scenes, designed by Clarice Cliff for Royal Staffordshire.  It's one I like to use in the fall but looks equally nice in the spring by just changing the rest of the setting.

Glassware is new - wine glasses with a gold bowl, and lightly tinted sage green waters.   We each had our own set of marbled green Bakelite salt and peppers.

I switched to 9" rectangular plates, added cups and saucers for after dinner coffee, and a chartreuse glass for a touch of sweet wine with dessert.  I'm not sure what this shape of plates were meant for originally.  We continued with our mix and match shades of green Bakelite flatware and rings.  New napkins are a brown, orange, and burgundy plaid used with new Pottery Barn tan hem-stitched place mats.  

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