Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tis the Season To Set the Stage!

As my Christmas Mentor, Dee Hardie, said, "I'd much rather dress the table than the turkey." And like her, "Sometimes I do it days ahead." Our main table, seen here, is in the kitchen and is difficult to set days ahead as this is where we eat, where we work on paperwork, where I stack cookbooks and plan menus. It is where, when family comes, a waffle breakfast is eaten, snacks throughout the day, and where family pitch in and help by peeling potatoes. Appetizers are put out here. Glasses of wine and the ubiquitous unclaimed bottles of water are left here. It is difficult to set the stage ahead at this kitchen table.

So today it is a pleasure to introduce it to you as one of the four Christmas tables for my day of the Tis the Season Blog Tour!

When I saw this lovely and simple 1950's pink china called Dwarf Pine by Taylor-Smith & Taylor, I knew it was meant to be mine. With Christmas eBay gift certificates last year from a son and his wife, I bought a stack of the plates.

I used vintage white cotton sheets for the tablecloth but did buy a pretty gray runner for the center. It and the dainty pine sprigs design on the china, almost Japanese in look, inspired me to have R.H. cut branches of a dwarf pine outside to use on the table. Another son rushed all over town a few days ago to find cans of artificial snow to spritz on the pine needles. I added white Christmas trees and white candles. [I know, the rule is that candles must be lit if on tables, but R.H. ruled that out as too much of a fire hazard with the pine needles so close!]

The bouillon cups are from Austria and the little glasses with white Christmas trees are from Goodwill. We found the stemware at Pier One on clearance and thought it added a modern touch to our mid-century table setting.

If you would like to see more of our kitchen dressed for Christmas, please return next week for a posting. But here is a picture of our punch bowl and glass snack plates, more mid-century pieces, standing next to our main Christmas tree that is full of vintage purple and blue balls and some modern pieces for a little sparkle, with purple and pink lights on the tree.

I think our kids probably hate this Christmas tree, but we had that traditional green tree with all the children's ornaments for decades and now it's my turn to have a grown-up tree. And it has a beautiful glow at night.

Let's move on to tables two and three. Recently I had a post titled "If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride" about my longing for a dining room. Where I could indeed "set the stage" early. The only way to get a dining room seemed to be to knock out the back wall in the room below and build out towards the smokehouse. Not even on R.H.'s radar screen, so determined to get a dining room out of this narrow space, I had the boys move in a wonderful old primitive green and black table from my bedroom. Now we can sit four people at it and four at the old red and white enamel table. And I have a dining room!

Table two here is a little kids' Christmas table, even though we only have one "little kid" now, granddaughter Nora. Maybe she could invite three friends!

I tied cool plastic spoons in old cloth red and white checked bows I made over 30 years ago, and tucked in sprigs of holly. The spoons would be good for a children's favorite--Mac 'n Cheese.  Colorful Christmas glasses are from Goodwill.

Old red Pyrex bowls could hold cut fruit to be picked up with little fingers.

I'd have to add a sandwich to the Mac 'n Cheese on these red-rimmed Christmas tree plates from Goodwill, called Holly & Spruce, also by Taylor-Smith & Taylor.

There are lots of interesting Christmas items on the table for the kids to look at.

Here we are at table three.

Spode's Christmas Tree has been our Christmas china for decades and here we have it set on one of the wonderful vintage Christmas tablecloths in my collection. They really made linens to last in the old days.

These bread plates called The Old Curiosity Shop have a wonderful clock on the design.

Aren't these little glasses cute? My mother gave them to me and some years I've put candy in them at each place setting.

Look who is already at the table! Zack and Defee's old bears! I hope they don't ask for them back too soon.

Now to the fourth table that is set up in our living room.

One person can sit on the sofa and another one can take the old red chair that was once in a bank.

Another person can sit in the old red Bentwood chair.

The last person at the table has to sit in the old red chair brought in from the garden! The table itself is from the garden and yes, R.H., you did have to repaint the whole table black, not just the legs that show!

Let's have the soup course in these wonderful bowls that came from Goodwill. You find the best things at Goodwill! These are by Vitromaster and the pattern is Metropolitan.

We remove the soup bowls to see what are actually luncheon plates to use for our salad. I have many sets of Copeland Spode, beginning with our wedding china called Blue Bird, but I think these are the loveliest. I bought a big stack of them for under $100 years ago on eBay and they are gold rimmed, crimson border, with a beautiful urn of flowers. They are marked Spode Copeland, Tatman, Chicago. No pattern name. If you happen to know the pattern I would so much appreciate learning what it is.

Next is our dinner plate, our Spode Christmas Tree again, but I do love changing it around this way and mixing these pieces together.

Now to show the chargers! I'm excited about these! I don't do chargers. Don't have the space for them and when I've looked for chargers, the ones I liked were expensive. But I have watched the tables of my table setting gurus, Laurie of Bargain Hunting (and chatting) with Laurie, and Pat of Back Porch Musings, and know what a difference it makes when they use them so beautifully. So when we found the Metropolitan soup bowls and bread plates at Goodwill, I held them up against the Christmas Tree china and they went together like magic. Over two years now I have bought four of the Metropolitan charger size plates. They are heavy to ship and not cheap to begin with so I have limited myself to four of these and will continue to set a grownup table for four with them. I wish that two of our engaged grandsons could eat at this table with their lovely fiancés for a romantic table for four.

Here is a closeup. I call them my Modigliani plates as the faces remind me of the artist's work.

All of these tables are set with old linen that I've had for years except for the gray runner for the kitchen table. Like my Christmas Mentor, Dee Hardie, I like old linens. Here is her dining room table with "a great-grandmother's cloth, like Mrs. Cratchit's gown in A Christmas Carol, 'twice-turned but brave with ribbons.'"

[House Beautiful, December 1983]
Dee said that her dining room table was "center stage." She said that "Christmas is the one time of year when I don't have to take down the props the very next day." We love that about Christmas, don't we? We can keep all the props up through Christmas and sometimes beyond. Dee once answered my fan letter in a sweet handwritten note. Thank you, Dee, for helping teach me how to set the stage.

I guess it's time to say goodbye for now. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to each of you. R.H. and I hope you'll visit us here again at Across the Way.

And please don't forget to visit Kathryn at The Dedicated House today as she and I finish up the Tis the Season Blog Tour. It has been so much fun joining Jemma, Chris, Poppy, Sheri, Jess, Nel, Patty, Melanie, Brenda, and Melinda in this fun tour together.

Note added at 7:20 p.m., Saturday night:

Just to let everyone know that we have been gone all day, driving to KY to adopt two precious dachshund brothers. Now they have explored everything, eaten and settled down in their nest at my feet. I will start answering comments and be making blog visits tomorrow when Otis & Milo sleep! Thank  you for the sweet comments, R.H. and I appreciate them so much!


  1. What an absolutely delightful visit to your house this morning. Each table is so unique and completely reflects who you are. I don't know which one is my favorite. The linens ground these settings and provide that vintage feeling as the unusual china sits on top. Your patterns are so different than you usually see on the home tours and the mixture of glassware and place settings show your talent in design. I can feel your personality in every table. Your family will be very lucky to enjoy their holiday dinner there.

  2. Oh Dewena! I'm speechless! Your tables are just beautiful! Wow! Thank you for opening your home at this holiday season, Merry Christmas to you and RH and your whole family! (I'm off to go set the table:-)

  3. Dewena- Your tables are gorgeous! Hard to pick a favorite- the children's table is adorable! What effort, love and care went into this! Little Nora should feel very special setting at this table. Table number three made my heart jump because it remains me of a table you would see at the Pine Tree Inn in White Christmas! Beautiful, beautiful post!!

  4. Beautiful! You're very talented!

  5. Oh my goodness. I love all your tables. You have really out done yourself decorating. It all looks so beautiful.

  6. Dewena,
    Imagine having three tables-little Nora ( love this name)is so fortunate to have her own special table and just look at these colors, some of my very favorite. I am partial to the first table with the white, silver and this pink china, is gloriously beautiful! Fluffy natural greens spritzed with frost just for the Holidays. It sounds as though your family has been totally supportive in helping you prepare for the season which makes your Holiday even more memorable and special.
    Looking forward to seeing more of your decorative touches next week-
    Thank you for joining Tis The Season!
    Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas,

  7. I don't even know what to say, Deweena... each table is beautiful in and of itself... but I think I like the two "dining room" tables the best. I love Spode, and treasure my mother's that I have. I don't have Christmas Tree, though. I used to have a LOT of Taylor, Smith, Taylor china... and miss it! I do have some green transfer ware. I wish I had as much old linen as you! Well done!

  8. Oh my, I feel like I have just be over to a very dear friends house as she shared with me how she "set the stage" for each of her tablescapes and shared with me where everything came from. Now I want to do a tablescape of my own. The pink plates in the kitchen - who has pink plates?! They are adorable, and a cotton sheet for a tablecloth is a great idea, and I love those white tree's and your kitchen with the lights strung across the top of the cabinets - it all looks so gorgeous next to that beautiful tree.

    The two tables in that one space makes it feel so quaint and cozy, yet intimate. I adore the kids table and there is much there to entertain them. Those little bears are adorable.

    I love that toile tablecloth at the table in the living room. I adore the mixing of the china you have placed on top of each other. Those chargers are unique and look like fine art work. I love mixing inexpensive and expensive together. I obviously need to head over to the Goodwill store.

    Dewena, thank you so much for sharing these tablescapes and your home with us. I am looking forward to seeing more of that kitchen soon.

    Merry Christmas!!
    Patty at Home and Lifestyle Design

  9. I have said before that I love your house but WOW was this ever fun. Each table is lovelier than the the little dutch boy and girl glasses. But after careful consideration, I want to sit at the kids table because I love that old table and then look at all of the little toys I can play with while I am eating! :)

    What a Very Merry Christmas post this has guys ( or YINZ as we say in Western PA. ) have outdone yourselves, which is hard to believe as your posts are always so special, anyway! :)

  10. i am speechless. cannot put together what i would say. sitting here. mouth open. silent.
    only words come to mind.
    sumptuous. warmth. glorious. whimsical. ingenious. rich. jewels. wonderland.
    and the last . . .
    i do. i whom never envy anything or anybody . . . i think i envy your life! there are such memories here.
    from beloved dee . . . to childhood teddies . . . to magical vignettes that touch the soul . . .
    and to prepare for many loved ones to sit at those tables and enjoy such beauty. oh the joy.
    oh dewena.
    oh dewena.
    it turns out i wasn't speechless after all! LOLOL. but of course NOT.
    i love you.
    i love valley view.
    thank you darling sister. ♥

  11. Perhaps you will be surprised to hear this because my own style is so neutral and edging toward the minimalist, but my favorite plates are the Modigliani ones. Even though they are not precisely Christmas dishes, I enjoy your adventurous spirit in working them into the table setting. And they are fun! I want to sit at that table in the red leather banker's chair. What's on the menu for dinner? I'll bring the pecan pie.

    Thank you for inviting us to your Open House.

  12. Dewena,
    Your Christmas tables are just lovely. First of all, I have to tell you that I LOVE your black and white checkered floors! Your 1950's Pink china is so pretty, and the white trees and white candles add a special touch. The children's table is very special all decked out in whimsical décor. And who doesn't love a teddy bear at Christmas time? My girls still have teddy bears they love to this day, and one is actually on Jess' post today.

    Everything looks so festive and nice on your day of the blog tour. I'd like to come back next week to see all the goodies in your kitchen too.

    Enjoy the season!


  13. All these tables are absolutely wonderful, Dewena. You know how close to my heart "setting the stage" is.
    Beautiful post!

  14. Of course my favorites are all the reds! Love the red table. And a red couch! I want a red couch.

  15. I love it all! I am just in complete awe of your tables. If I had to choose a table, it would be the pink china with the white Christmas trees and the gray runner. I have always loved pink and gray together.

    You are so talented and the love that goes into your home is truly amazing. I just can't find the words to express how beautiful it all is.

    Can't wait to hear more about Otis and Milo. They just sound so adorable!

  16. My oh my oh my, you must have a library of gorgeous literary dishes!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you for the wonderful trip across your tabletops...I totally enjoyed myself and can really relate to how fun it is to arrange a tabletop for guests!

  17. Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!
    Bring you Good wishes of happiness.

    Sorry for greeting you earlier,, just don't want miss saying this.
    By the way, I'm prima. It's my first time visiting your blog. I am blogger

    too, and now try my best luck to open an e-store. Nice to know you.


  18. Dewena,

    Your beautiful stage has finally been set with a multi-talented 'cast', 'props' and lighting that is your Christmas home! What a pretty array of plates, glasses, silverware and linens! All four tables glow with a festive ambiance that is warm and welcoming.

    For me, the 'protagonists' are, of course, all the reds, in their different 'costumes' of checkered ribbons and napkins, charming patterns in the tablecloths, and in all the dinnerware between the two tables in the dining room. Little Nora will, no doubt, be entertained by all the 'action' of the playful 'plots', and if I were lucky enough to ever be present at such a 'production', I'd be sitting right there, next to her, listening to her 'review'!

    The many different 'scenes' of your stage provide an interesting backdrop and this is further exemplified in your pink and gray setting, which is equally enchanting, but cooler and more formal, thus the 'diction' of your design here, creates yet another 'theme'.

    Then, of course, there is the necessary element of surprise, and that's when the hero makes an entrance, namely, that gorgeous red sofa in your living room vignette!! Teamed with the other two red chairs, (I'd gladly take the garden one!), this dynamic trio, along with your treasured set of 'Modigliani' plates, painted with their own masked and mysterious figures, (what a conversation piece!), this part of the stage has to be the most dramatic!

    I can't tell you how much I enjoyed every 'act' of this uniquely staged 'performance', faultless in its direction and presentation, and leaving us wanting more.

    Encore! Encore!

    Poppy, the avid theatregoer

  19. Wow so beautiful...I love all your tables such pretty plates, stemware all the while I am looking i am wondering why don't I collect china, I think i should go to Goodwill, or the Salvation Army see what I can...then it hit although I loved the china and glassware my eye actually focused on the linen WOW so pretty...thank you for sharing!
    Merry Christmas!

  20. Okay, Wow! You have outdone yourself on your tables! I love them all! And, I must say I adore that red couch! I feel so blessed to have gotten to know you, dear one on the tour! Your comments make my heart sing! I'm so happy the boys have settled into their new home! The next couple of weeks will be exciting for all of you as you get to know one another! Ah, Christmas pups! Enjoy your season! Toodles, Kathryn@TheDedicatedHouse

  21. My goodness how beautiful all your tables are but the first pink one is my favorite. If I had to pick one that is. You do have a true dedication to detail. I thought I had a lot of dishes. I am glad I am not the only one without chargers. I have not had time nor energy for a tables cape so I have enjoyed all of yours immensely. Blessings, Olive

  22. Bless you for adopting those boys; as they say around here, they've fallen in it now...but in a good way.
    Beautiful tables, Dewena, bet Christians is amazing at your house.

  23. Deweena!!! I love your vintage tablescapes, especially the pink dwarf pine plates. :D I want to feature this post on my blog next week if that's okay.

    I also want to see your new fur babies!!!


  24. You are ready for a party! I love all your table settings, but my favorite is the white tree one in the kitchen. Gosh I wish my kids would sit at a fun kids table, I may just have to rethink my kitchen table this year for Christmas Eve dinner. Thank you for stopping by to see my bedroom golds. Alaina

  25. Every single table is B E A U T I F U L !!!

    I am having so much fun setting a pretty Christmas table each night. Tomorrow I am going with a blue and white table.

  26. You certainly know how to set a table! Everything is such a delight for the eyes. I wish I could set a beautiful Christmas table ahead of time, but two of my cats (out of the three) are very naughty and curious and if there's anything on the kitchen table (especially a tablecloth), they have to be up there to see what it is! I love the red french door in your house too, and your kitchen is gorgeous. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  27. Such a feast for my eyes! Love every single thing, and especially that 50s table. I wish I still had the one I grew up with. I had to look up the word 'charger' - I only knew it as something to charge batteries, phones, etc. Thank you! AND Dee Hardie!! You like Dee Hardie! I love her work. I have the Hollyhocks, Lambs, and Other Passions.

  28. Dewena, what beautiful tables. I could not possibly even pick a favorite. I love all of your vintage tablecloths, and such pretty china patterns. The soft pastel in the kitchen is such a lovely change from the normal kitchen table, and that china is so unique and pretty, and also I spotted some gorgeous stems on that table. Those wonderful chargers are another fun change from a normal Christmas look, and I love the toile table cloth.. The table decorated for children is such fun with the big red checked bows and the sweet little Christmas treasures scattered about. Thank you so much for mentioning me. I loved seeing all of these festive and beautiful tables. Wishing you and your family a merry Christmas and a wonderful new year. laurie

  29. Ooops! That was supposed to say "normal Christmas table", not kitchen table!

  30. Dewena, All the tables are wonderful. Beautiful dishes every where. I would love sitting at the kid table even. Blessings xoxo,Susie

  31. Bless your heart for adopting those doggies, Dewena! My goodness, what a wonderful Christmas gift you have given them and that you have given yourself! Photos soon?


  32. Dewena, I enjoyed this post so much. It was such fun to get a glimpse of your kitchen, and other corners of your lovely home. You really have a knack for pulling together beautiful tablescapes. Your vintage tablecloths are delightful, and wonderfully paired with the array of tableware you possess. I tried to choose a favorite of the four tables, but simply couldn't do it. Each one is special and equally charming. Merry Christmas to you and R.H. -- Nancy

  33. I love that pic of your kitchen! Gorgeous!

  34. Your tables are lovely! I love the vintage touches; they take me back to my childhood. My MIL had pink and black kitchen furniture back in the day. Those pink dishes would have been perfect in her home then. They are the ultimate in 1950's chic, and the way you accessorized them is perfect! What a beautiful table!

    I know you had fun putting together your lovely tables, and your readers are having fun admiring them.

    I still have my table set as I did for our tour of homes. I can't dismantle it yet; Mike and I are eating at the kitchen bar and have been for weeks since I began decorating. Sacrifices for beauty, ha!

    Merry Christmas!


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