"Summertime, and the livin's easy." Or so goes the old Gershwin song. Apparently, they didn't work in the tourism industry, because summer is always busy-or at least we hope so! This is the time we make most of our money, so little breaks here and there are a welcome respite to 14 hour work days. This gives us precious time to enjoy what little summer we can, and when I think of mid to late summer, I think of sunflowers.
Their Latin name is Helianthus, meaning "to follow the sun". With the exception of three species, all sunflowers are native to North and Central America. There are about 70 species of sunflowers and were domesticated about 1,000 B. C. Each sunflower can contain 1,000 to 2,000 seeds! The seeds are high in Vitamin E and Selenium, antioxidants that protect the body against free radical damage. There is a lot of nutrition in those little seeds!
And, the flower is gosh darn pretty! These are happy little flowers, and their meaning in the flower world means adoration and loyalty, perfect to give to sweethearts. During the Aesthetic Movement, it was used as their symbol. Oscar Wilde often put a sunflower in his lapel. The sunflower also symbolized support of the women's right to vote movement. This was in no small part to the women of Kansas, who adopted their state's flower to the cause, and suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, whose pen name was "Sunflower" in the newsletter "The Lily", which focused on temperance. So, the sunflower has a deep connection to America's history, culture and traditions.
It is good to see the motif is still popular. A few weeks ago, I went into Dollar Tree and saw sunflower themed mugs and bowls, but no plates. I was disappointed; I thought I had missed out on the plates, and if there is a dinnerware pattern I like but don't want another entire set of dishes, I tend to purchase salad plates, because they're so versatile and easier to store than mugs or bowls. But, last week I had two surprises-the arrival of the newest color in Fiestaware, Butterscotch, and Dollar Tree had those sunflower salad plates! I thought the salad plates and Butterscotch would go good together. To really make this table setting pop, I added Fiesta Lemongrass and what a table it made!
I started with my "workhorse" tablecloth (Mainstays, Walmart) but used contrasting napkins in Gold and Sage Green (Tablecloths Factory; go online, they have tablecloths and napkins in many colors for a great price!) instead of the matching white ones. Fiesta dinner plates and bowls in alternating Butterscotch (Fiesta Factory Direct) and Lemongrass (Herberger's) were used with the Sunflower salad plates. I used Central Park by Anchor Hocking (Walmart) for the drinkware, as the flourish in the pattern goes oh so well with the petals of the sunflower. Flatware was Floral Bead by Temp-tations (QVC). I used Fiesta Lemongrass (Herberger's) and P86 Yellow (unknown) ball style shakers on the table, and alternated the colors. The centerpiece was a bouquet of wild sunflowers found along the gravel roadsides locally in a Fenton Art Glass milk white hobnail large vase (thrift store). It really didn't need anything else, I don't think! Those sunflowers were the hit of the table!
On the Pepin Sideboard is the dessert and tea service. Fiesta Butterscotch and Lemongrass salad plates, fruit bowls, cups and saucers were all arranged in alternating colors, and for the tea service, I used my beloved Brown Betty teapot by Adderley Ceramics (In Cahoots for Tea, Great Falls, Montana) to go with the brown centers of the sunflower motif, along with Fiesta P86 Chartreuse bouillon cup (eBay) and Marigold mini pitcher (Herberger's) for the sugar bowl and creamer, respectively, to round out the tea service.
On the menu:
Tossed salad with balsamic vinaigrette
Chicken, Tomatoes and Corn Foil Pack (ingredients placed in an aluminum foil packet and placed on the grill...YUM! And does not heat up the kitchen!)
Cheesecake sugar-free pudding topped with blueberries and a sprig of mint