(Oct. 13, 2015) I was walking through the “big” Stop & Shop, the one I’ve only been in three times. Weighing in on how I feel, for or against the new and supposedly better market, I really don’t love it. I’m trying to be open-minded, but honestly there is so much wrong that it’s hard to be supportive. But I won’t go into the reasons here.
I was there because I needed 10 white miniature pumpkins and 10 orange ones. I knew they wouldn’t have them downtown. So there I was pushing a cart filled with little pumpkins and everyone I bumped into said the same thing: “You must be styling an event.” They were right. In two weeks I am setting five tables for a small, post-wedding party for Lisa and David Lazarus in that wonderfully intimate upstairs dining room at Le Languedoc. The theme is green and white, but since it’s almost Halloween I’m taking liberties with an infusion of a little orange. Now I’m going to digress, but I’ll come back to this.
The day before, I was working with photographer Terry Pommett on an article. We were shooting in Michael Molinar’s house. He owns Flowers On Chestnut. The article won’t be out until the spring, so you have to wait until then to see the whole story. But in the meantime, I asked Michael to set his kitchen table in a creative way with green and white. It was on my mind and I thought I’d get some inspiration. Since he had just decorated for a wedding the Saturday before, and had some succulents left over, he used them to create miniature arrangements at each place and as a centerpiece.
“Always use what you have if you can,” he suggested. Succulents are often a favorite in the Southwest and California as they are desert plants and flowers. I wasn’t that keen on using them until I saw what he created. He started with mercury glass goblets, but you can use small dessert bowls or Marguerita glasses with tall stems, or any small bowls or creative containers. First he filled them with moss and then inserted miniature green succulents. For the centerpiece he covered an area in the middle of the table with moss and then created the arrangements in different size goblets and containers grouped together at different heights. Surrounding this were river stones and moss stones all available in his shop or from garden centers. Craft stores with flower arranging materials carry all this stuff as well – and then some. See the photo below.If you’re having a party and want to do something creative on the table, use produce. And now, back to my foray into the Stop & Shop. My tables will have a centerpiece that begins with a hurricane glass holding a fat white or green candle inside. I tried to get all green (I have two) candles but had to settle for three ivory. From the market I bought bags of dried green peas. I filled about a third of the glass candleholders with the peas and set the candle into the bed of peas. Each table will have a large palm leaf in the center on top of which will be this candle creation. Then I plan to wrap each of the globes with a very fine string of LED lights (from the drugstore). This adds a bit of sparkle to the table as well as tiny votive candles placed here and there.
If you’re still with me, and doing this yourself, scoop out a small hole in the top of each pumpkin (I’m using two white and one orange on each table of six place-settings. Since my outdoor pots are still filled with herbs, I am taking Michael’s advice about using what is on hand. Each pumpkin “vase” will have an insert bouquet of herbs that include parsley (feminine and curly), a thyme leaf, a sprig of lavender and rosemary all for a fresh scent. The pumpkin vases will sit on a small birch tree disc (two-inch diameter) for a smidge of height (from an online craft supplier) and surround the center candle. And just for the icing on the cake, I plan to fill spaces between the pumpkins and votives with shiny river stones. The white napkins (on white tablecloths) will be tied with a two-inch wide moss green satin ribbon, with a sprig of lavender tucked under each tie. I also plan to include a tiny “favor” bag of chocolate-dipped apricots from Ambrosia on Centre Street to add a dot of orange on each napkin. And now you’ll have to wait until after the event to see the dramatic bouquet I’m making for the table that holds the cake.