I am often asked "Where do you get your ideas and inspiration for your beautiful table settings?" I find them everywhere-from magazines subscriptions I receive in the mail, old entertaining and cook books, photographs of tables set in historic homes, vintage Martha Stewart shows, from dinnerware patterns themselves to nature itself. Ideas and inspiration are everywhere, and this table reflects this creativity.
I'm not much of an afternoon soap opera watcher. My favorite soap operas have always been evening ones; the original Dynasty and Dallas, Falcon Crest, Knots Landing (spin off of Dallas), and The Colbys (spin off of Dynasty). I have recently been purchasing these shows of my youth (and others!) for my enjoyment-there is simply nothing like the decadence of the 1980s. It was a wonderful time to grow up! In the past couple of years, I decided to give daytime soaps (what is left of them) a try. I started with The Bold and the Beautiful because it was a half-hour long, but the story lines were so stupid I simply couldn't take it. I tried General Hospital and Days of Our Lives, but the sets seem so cheap. The Young and the Restless has nice sets, OK clothes and plot lines at least mildly interesting-and Victor Newman! Devious, rotten, conniving, plotting Victor Newman. The character is played by Eric Braeden, a man who has the rare gift of getting more handsome as he ages. It wasn't long before I started doing what I always do when I watch a program-pay attention to the sets, the background, the things used to bring everything together. My favorites are three: the living room of the Newman Ranch, the living room of the Abbott Mansion, and Victor Newman's office.
Newman's office is predictable-dark, masculine colors, heavy furniture with an equestrian theme. After all, he owns a ranch among his other fictional holdings. My love for horses is as long as my love for old homes-both started in childhood. Looking at those dark colors and seeing all of the horse themed artwork, I instantly thought "a table setting using Fiesta and my English hunt plates!" Thus, my "Victor" table setting!
Because I don't have an ivory tablecloth that fits my dining room table (more on that in a future post!), I chose my workhorse white tablecloth and matching napkins as the setting's foundation (Mainstays, Walmart). I used Fiesta dinnerware in Black, Paprika and Evergreen (various sources) and alternated the colors throughout the setting. The inspiration for the setting was my English Hunting Scenes salad plates by Fondeville/Ambassadorware (eBay). There are four different designs in this pattern. Drinkware is Longchamp by Cristal d'Arques (various sources), and flatware couldn't be anything but Golden Royal Plume by Wm. Rogers and Sons (antiques store in Butte, Montana). Because this is only a service for eight, I brought in other gold plated flatware I purchased at a local thrift store. The pattern, Pavillion by Rogers, is nearly identical to Golden Royal Plume and can easily be used at the same time. Golden Royal Plume has two serving pieces-a casserole serving spoon and a cold meat fork, while Pavillion has a sugar shell and master butter spreader, so both fill in when needed. In this case, I used Pavillion tea spoons and salad forks for the dessert service, and the sugar shell and master butter spreader in their proper functions. At each place setting were individual salt cellars (thrift store) and pepper shakers (Mainstays, Walmart). The centerpiece is my collection of Chinese made horse racing bric-a-brack found at Herberger's many years ago. I placed the covered bowl, covered ginger jar and vase in the center of the table and flanked them by two brass candlestick holders made by Heirloom Brass in the USA (thrift store). I like these pieces because the design is on both sides, so people sitting on the opposite side can enjoy seeing the same pattern design. The companion open bowl and candlestick holders are on the Pepin Sideboard. The candle holder part of the pair of candlestick holders is rather shallow, so I don't trust them to hold candles I know I will be burning during the meal. Joining them is a pretty Japanese made horse head vase (thrift store). The dessert service is on the fern table next to the Pepin Sideboard, consisting of alternating Fiesta salad plates in Evergreen, Paprika and Black. A little antique English hunt scene pitcher made in Czechoslovakia (thrift store) is also on the table in front of the Emily compote by Waterford (Cash's of Ireland), and the Fiesta Evergreen butter dish (Herberger's) with the Pavillion master butter spreader rounds out the service.
Because I put the companion pieces on the Pepin Sideboard, I used a dark wood folding tray for the tea service, using my beloved genuine Brown Betty teapot to serve the amber brew (In Cahoots for Tea, Great Falls, Montana). To the right is a plant stand with a sisal fox figurine (Kmart), and to the left is the sherry or port service, a set made in Italy and given to my beloved Auntie Betty Jo by her daughter in law. Because I do not have enough Longchamp cordial glasses at this time, I used this set instead for this meal.
This is not a table I would normally set in the summertime. This would be more of an autumn/wintertime setting, but I saw my little English hunt plates just sitting there feeling lonely, so I "felt sorry" for them and put them into service! This was a splendid meal on a sunny, warm summer evening. On the menu was:
Chilled Avocado Soup
Mixed greens with raspberry vinaigrette
Lemon Garlic Roasted Chicken (made in the Crock Pot!)
Sauce made from the chicken drippings
Mixed Berry Shortcake