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Archive for the ‘Great Gatherings’ Category

Venice Tablesetting

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Venice Tablesetting

I’m finally getting back to my last Ladies Lunch table ~ Venice table setting! My tour of Italy continued to Venice, another Italian city of art, architecture and Carnivale. Venice hosts  one of the biggest pre-Lent carnivals in the world.

Venice table setting

So of course, decorated masks had to be a big part of the table. One night with lots of wine and pizza, my sister Elaine and friend Pam, helped me decorate masks. I covered a dress form with glittery black fabric then added a voluminous skirt made from netting. The we finished dressing “her” with masks and beads.

Venice Table setting

Venice table setting

This place setting had more layers than the other two. My motto is you can’t have too many dishes on the table even if you don’t use all of them! My Venice table setting included:

  • Red charger
  • Silver charger
  • Dinner plate with black and silver edge/rim
  • Square black salad plate
  • Round dessert plate with gold design
  • Red soup bowl

The finishing touch was a decorated mask party favor. On the side is a small red plate under a black mug and wine and water glasses. None of the pieces are from the same set, yet they coordinate beautifully together. I’m not against matchy-matchy, but this style is way more fun!

Venice table setting

I did the same with the napkin. No one really needs two napkins, but they sure look pretty as a pair. I always buy 12 of anything whenever I find something unique or a great bargain. Like these spoon napkin rings. I just had to have them and they’re perfect for this table.

Venice table setting

The hall had basic stacking chairs in grey fabric, so a simple bow of black and white tulle added a bit of glam to go with the fancy masks. This idea would be a less expensive option for decorating wedding reception chairs.

Venice table setting I purchased the knife rests at the big flea market in Lille. I was amazed at how many people had never seen them before or didn’t even know their purpose. What a great invention. “Rest” your knife on it’s little stand to keep the table cloth clean. Brilliant idea, especially in the days when the same table cloth was used many times before washing.

Rome Table Setting

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Rome Table Setting. My tour of Italy for the ACAP fundraiser took me to Rome, a city filled with art, architecture and history.

My centerpiece is a collage of picture frames, some with pictures, most without. I thought about how to build this stand for a long time. I  made several trips to the garden centers and finally found a vegetable trellis. I wired three of them together and randomly added a variety of frames.

Rome Table Setting Centerpiece

I carried the frame theme through the place setting. The charger is a large frame, spray painted black with a blue batik napkin insert. An empty brass frame rests on a plate just for the fun of it. Each place setting needed some art, so I cut little pieces of famous paintings and place them in more black frames.

Rome Table setting

Rome table setting

My color scheme was blue and white. Which I love! But it needed the pleated gold napkins to add a bit of texture and another color.

Rome Table Setting The frame theme continued with place cards. More little frames with each guests’ name.

Rome Table Setting Napkin - Copy

Rome Table Setting

Rome Table

Blue and white fabric camouflaged the boring grey chairs. A little paper raffia held them in place.

Everyone asked where I got all the dishes to set 3 tables. Well, the answer is I own them all! They only pieces I purchased for this fundraiser were these blue and white salad plates, the clay color salad plates on the Tuscany table and a few more matching wine glasses. I love dishes!


Tuscany Table Setting

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Tuscany Table Setting!

I participated in a fund raiser for ACAP called Designing Women with a Cause, where 12 women set tables based on a country. I designed and decorated 3 Italian tables starting with Tuscany. If you know me, you know how much I love to set a beautiful table. I love the challenge of doing something that’s never been done before. Someone asked if I had spent hours looking at Pinterest for ideas. The answer is an emphatic NO! Everything I designed is an original Merri idea.

Tuscany Place Setting

My inspiration for my Tuscany table setting was the beautiful Tuscan countryside where grapes grow and wine is made. The vintage dishes are English Staffordshire, Olde Avon Dale, by J & G Meakin, England. I made a mini grape arbor centerpiece complete with vines, grapes and twinkle lights. Underneath  a dozen lanterns add ambiance to the rustic setting.

Tuscany Table

Tuscany Tablesetting Centerpiece

My place cards are little wood trays with a keyhole cut-out to hold your wine glass (a Goodwill bargain).  I painted each with black chalkboard paint and propped them up on stands. Chalk is erasable so I can reuse them over and over.

Tuscany Tablesetting Grapes

Sparkly clusters of grapes, also from Goodwill (it’s amazing what I found there for my tables!) add color and texture to each place setting.

Tuscany Tablesetting

Each Tuscany setting started with a grape vine charger. I twisted a length of vine into a circle and held it together with a bit of wire. It adds wonderful texture and contrast, my favorite design elements! I folded brown and vintage lace napkins together and held them together with a lantern napkin ring. See a theme developing?

Tuscany Tablesetting Door Pull Salt

I also love to add unexpected and unusual touches. Like the brass pocket door pulls. They’re beautiful works of art and perfect for individual salt dishes. The little spoons are made from nails and were found in Eureka, California (where gold was discovered). I only bought 8. Nowadays I never purchase less than 12 of anything. You never know when you’ll have 9 or 10 or 12 people over for dinner.

Tuscany Table Centerpiece

Once I knew I wanted to illuminate the table with lanterns, I shopped Goodwill, looking for all shapes and sizes. The ones that weren’t bronze, got a quick coat of brown spray paint.

Tuscany Tablesetting Chair Cover

I was asked if I rented the chair covers. Oh no, I actually own them. They were a big bargain years ago that I couldn’t pass up. I knew they would come in handy someday! A burlap bow added color and and more texture.

Next up are my tables dedicated to Rome and Venice.



Easter Basket Ideas – DIY

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Easter Basket Ideas — DIY

Who says the Easter Bunny has to hide regular, boring old Easter baskets? Change things up this year by making your own custom DIY baskets from things you’ll find stashed in your house!

Easter Basket Fruit Basket

Put the fruit in the refrigerator and weave paper raffia through the open spokes of a  wire fruit basket. Choose a traditional Easter color, like purple or color coordinate each basket to your home decor or a different color for each kid.

Easter Basket Fabric

Transform those regular baskets with a bit of fabric and glue. Gather a large circle of fabric on the outside of the basket. Hold it in place with giant paper clips. Glue in place with hot glue gun.

Easter Basket Grass Chenille Trim

Take one of your really nice baskets and instead of messy, fake grass, fill it with chenille trim cut from an old bedspread. If you were really ambitious, you could change the color with dye.

Easter Basket Ribbon and Paper Grass

I also like to use pretty ribbon instead of grass. It’s soft and NOT messy and you can reuse in another project. Or cut strips of colorful paper and curl them around a pencil. Choose construction or printing paper or even old book pages.

Make this the year the Easter Bunny gets creative.

DIY Easter Eggs

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DIY fabric Easter Eggs are not only great decorations, but they last forever. Making them is so fast and easy, you’ll be tempted to make dozens. I think I’ll place one at each place setting for Easter brunch. Everyone gets a party favor to take home.

Fabric Easter Eggs

I purchased a couple “fat quarters” of pale yellow and white quilting fabric. It’s important to get 100% cotton fabric (cotton is much easier to rip). You’ll also need Styrofoam eggs and sequin pins (the very short ones).

Fabric Eggs

Rip the fabric in 1/2 in strips. Trim the loose threads and press so you have nice flat pieces to work with.

How to Make Fabric Eggs

Wrap the egg with the strips, alternating between two fabrics. Hold in place at both ends with the straight pins.

DIY Fabric Easter Eggs DIY Easter Eggs

Cover up the pins with ribbon or green floral trim. They’re so adorable and you and bring them out every year.

I would love to hear from you!




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