Dianne's Creative Table

I am inspired by light, all things natural, reusing previously loved items, and bargains!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Revisiting the Dinner Party!

My table this week didn't have much to meet Kathleen's challenge, so I went back to an oldie that has many natural elements from the stones gathered on the shores of the Pacific Northwest and the stone place cards.  

I love to entertain.  I enjoy the process of developing the menu, thinking through the preparation steps to make sure there's no conflict of appliances, deciding on the guests and making sure there's no conflict of personalities, and choosing the table decor that will enhance the food and delight the guests.  I invited a few friends and my in-laws (who I would be friends with even if they weren't family) and decided on the menu.  After several incarnations, I came up with the following:

Goat Cheese with Red Pepper Jelly
Grilled Mission Figs with Basil and Procuitto
Brambles (blackberry liquor, lemon and vodka)
Watermelon, Feta, and Black Olive Salad
Caprese Salad
Grilled Thai Sea Bass
Orzo with Caramelized Onions and Pine Nuts 
Fresh Baked Foccaccia
Grilled Asparagus
Concord Grape and Mango Sorbet
Lemon Curd Tart with Blueberries
Besides being on the endangered list, did you know sea bass costs $26.99 a pound? With eight people invited, I quickly looked for an alternative and consulted with my Executive Chef friend who suggested Halibut.  It was good, but much drier than the Sea Bass.
Then the table.... At first, I was going to keep it easy and just leave the last table with the chickens, but decided chickens with seafood wasn't exactly a good match. I thought about Halibut from the Northwest Pacific and I remembered our vacation to Uculet, BC on Vancouver Island and all the rocks and driftwood we brought home and decided that an ocean (but not beachy) tabletop would be perfect.  
The glass floats are authentic and came from a pawn shop in Seattle, several years ago.  One of our favorite vacation activities is to visit a thrift or pawn shop in different part of the country. 

All the table decor, tree bark, rocks, wood, and rope, with the exception of the mini terrariums and votives we brought, or sent home from the North West Coast.  As I look at the pictures, I remember the sound of these rocks in the surf.  I also remember carrying all those rocks for miles down the beach in my pockets and backpack!
I like to extend the centerpiece all the way down the table so every guest has something of interest in front of them.   The rocks stimulated conversation among the guests throughout the evening.

Fosteria Ballet crystal my most recent purchase from a local thrift, marked down twice to less than $5 per piece!  Right place at the right time; two more days and they would have been donated to Goodwill.  
 Tape on the "place rocks" so I could reuse them. 

Watermelon, red onion marinated in lime juice, black olives and feta.  
Thom Scott's incredible Lemon Curd Tart
Island dishes, placemats and napkins - Home Goods
Candle holders - Old Time Pottery
White dinner plates - Mikasa Antique White
Flatware - Walmart
Chargers - Hobby Lobby

Come join the party at Susan's Tablescape Thursday


  1. Dianne, what a pretty table with the ocean things you have found. I will steal that idea for placemarkers -- so clever. Could you send some tart and some orzo -- okay, just the whole menu. You do have a lovely dining room. Joni

  2. Lovely table. The colors are so cool and peaceful. Love the rocks, shells and floats as a centerpiece. Such a wonderful look you have achieved.

  3. Oh Diane, I am delighted you showed us your beautiful dining room. I knew it would be a great place and I was right. Your table is wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.. Interest in every nook and cranny. I love those dishes! and the plaid napkins are so wonderful with those placemats. Great fun. xo marlis

  4. Oh, Dianne...what a pretty, pretty table! And what a generously sized dining room!!! My goodness gracious! You could play arena football in there!!! Thanks for sharing the photos! You bought the glass floats at a pawn shop?!???!?!! Really??!?!?!! I have GOT to get myself to a pawn shop! I have never visited one, and I just pictured it as having different stuff. Wow! Fantastic setting!

  5. Beautiful table setting. Love the sea/ocean centre piece, clever lady....it comes together perfect with your place setting. Love it. Diane

  6. The table setting looks great with pebble rocks just like a ocean breeze.

    Love the dishes too.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Lots of Love,
    Karin Şen Cankan

  7. Very pretty ocean tablescape, Dianne. Love your dining room, especially that large table!

  8. This is definitely a creative and beautiful tablescape! I love the colors. Your plate stack is gorgeous, from the charger through the beautiful Island plate. Your color choices are perfect so as to allow the plate and the placemat to relate to one another. I just love this tablescape. The candlelight reflecting off the mirror centerpiece is just lovely.

    Oh, and the menu, that is fabulous as well. This was a home run for sure!

  9. What a pretty setting. The colors are the perfect compliment to your menu. This just sets the tone for a delightful evening with friends -- love your creative "place rocks" -- that salad looks wonderful too!

  10. Dianne, you table is lovely! I rarely do "beach" tablescapes because they're just not "my thing," but your ocean table is wonderful. The color is so relaxing, and the use of the old floats, etc. was perfect. We also enjoy visiting thrift stores when we travel; lots of good memories doing that!

    Stop by if you get a chance. My Vintage Linen & Dish Auction is going on until 9PM Eastern Monday!

  11. I just came back to say I made your salad today for lunch -- it was wonderful! Thanks for sharing this.

  12. This is a dazzling table! And what a luxurious dining room! It simply INSISTS on entertaining doesn't it! Lovely. I'll have to start checking out pawn shops!

  13. Hi lovely lady.
    What a Beautiful tablescape with your dishes and your lovely ceterpiece just gorgeous...
    I'am sure ever one was happy to be at your dinner party this Night!!!.... You did a great job putting this party together.. Thanks so much for your comments on my Tablescape so sweet of you.. Dianne
    XXOO Diane

  14. It's obvious that you love to do this and are very good at it. The table is stunning. Sometimes I hesitate to entertain because it really is so much work...but you make it seem almost fun! Thanks for sharing your dining room.

  15. This is the first time I have checked blogs in weeks.... Oh how I wish we could have enjoyed this party with you. Beautiful everything, Diane.

  16. A very pretty table! And a great menu!

  17. This is just perfect for the theme! So many earthy elements to the table, just lovely!
    Dinner sounds great, and the pie looks heavenly, the opposite of earthy! :)
    Thanks for being part of Let's Dish!

  18. Dianne, I love the idea of extending the centerpiece for the pleasure of your guests. I always put things on the table for stimulating conversation too. And how many rocks and shells have I carried down a beach?? Don't know but I think I could open a shop. Love love love the glass balls. I have one large authentic ball, but a few "new" ones too. I must find a good pawn shop. Linda

  19. This is just perfect for the theme! So many earthy elements to the table, just lovely!
    Dinner sounds great, and the pie looks heavenly, the opposite of earthy! :)
    Thanks for being part of Let's Dish!

  20. Beautiful! The centerpiece is wonderful.

  21. Perfect table to celebrate Earth Day. Cute idea to use the rocks as place card holders.

  22. Oh so beautiful. I love that soft blue. So peaceful. Love the rocks!

  23. This is such a beautiful table setting. The colors are really pretty and I love the relaxed beachy theme...Christine