I scored these peonies at the Union Square Farmers Market on Sunday…for two dollars and fifty cents a bunch! Yup, you heard right! I got to the market at the very end of the day, just as all of the vendors were packing up and clamoring to get rid of their leftover product, hence the steep discount. They were going for $10 a bunch that morning! It’s true the early bird may catch the worm but it’s the patient shopper that scores the best deal! I bought four bunches and made 2 beautiful arrangements…this one and another smaller one for my coffee table. When I got them they were a little wilted but I have a great florists tip for reviving wilted cut flowers which I used to perk up my peony blossoms. Here’s a close-up of the beautiful blooms and just below are my tips on how to revive fresh flowers.
HOW TO REVIVE WILTED FRESH CUT FLOWERS:
- Trim the stems on a diagonal, preferably under running water. This gives the stems more surface to drink from.
- Fill your vase with very warm (almost hot) water. If you have flower food, great – you can add that to the vase as well.
- Place your flowers back in the vase then find yourself a spray bottle which you’ll fill with very cold water.
- Spray the cold water directly onto the blooms. Give them a light spraying, do not drench.
- If possible, temporarily place your flowers in a cool place. (not in a refrigerator)
- Your flowers should be revived in no time!
Over the weekend I attended a fun event hosted by lifestyle guru Eddie Ross
with Creative Candles
called Color & Candlelight
which focused on inspiring ways to add color to your home with candles. The event took place at Gracious Home
which is one of my favorite NYC stores for housewares, linens, lighting and more. Through discussion and slide show, Eddie demonstrated just how easy and inexpensive it is to brighten up a space or a table setting, simply by using colored candles. Here’s a perfect example:
Photo: eddieross.com via Martha Stewart Living
This room is absolutely beautiful but features a completely neutral palette. The only color is brought in through the pretty arrangements of pink peonies on the chest to the left. And see the silver candlesticks with white tapers on the cocktail table?
Image: Pink color options from Creative Candles. Photo via eddieross.com
Imagine if the stylist had used tapers in a fun hot pink or raspberry hue to play off the color of the flowers? It would have added another pop of color that would really bring the space to life!
In addition to educating us on color and candles, Eddie also spoke about the basics of creating an elegant tabletop. Here he is discussing how mixing up your flatware can really add a stylish flair to a place setting.
Here’s a closeup of the tabletop Eddie designed for the event. It’s so pretty and perfect for Spring! To create his tabletop, Eddie used many items from Gracious Home mixed in with vintage pieces from his personal collection and his Etsy shop
. Notice the different flatware styles used here? Although the flatware varies, each place setting is identical which adds uniformity that totally makes it work!
Nicole Gibbons and Eddie Ross
After the lecture finished I went over to congratulate Eddie on a fabulous event. I’m always so inspired by his talent and creativity! When I watched him as a contestant on Top Design, I knew he would go on to become a huge success and as soon as the show wrapped he already had a slew of exciting projects on his plate. At the Gracious Home event Eddie filled us in that he is currently writing a book with his partner Jaithan and is in the midst of shooting a television pilot! His accomplishments are quite impressive and I can’t wait to see what he’s up to next! For more on Eddie Ross, visit his blog here.
I had a few friends over for a dinner party not too long ago and here’s the table setting I whipped together. It’s the perfect lesson on achieving a high style table setting on a low budget.
I started with the flowers, purchased at my local grocery store for around $16. Although some may find the idea of a typical grocery store flower arrangement hideous, with a little re-arranging and creativity you can make them look totally chic. I cut the stems down and rearranged them in a textured, deep plum colored low vase. The flowers provided a bright pop of color against my natural linen tablecloth, which was an inexpensive find from Target at $16.99. It has hemstitch detailing on the bottom and looks far more expensive than it actually cost. My napkins were a steal from the Williams-Sonoma clearance bin, scored for $4.99 apiece! (With a little digging I found 6!) I absolutely love them, especially the paisley pattern at the bottom and the bright green detail. I chose to use these napkins since they complimented the colors in the floral arrangement nicely.
Here’s a closeup of the place setting. My dinner plates are from Martha Stewart’s former Kmart collection and the silver chargers were another Target find that cost $6.99 for a set of four. The white wine glasses were $1.99 each from Ikea. The candlesticks were $10 from Jamali Garden Supply here in New York. I’m recapping prices to illustrate the fact that you really don’t have to spend a ton of money to create a stylish table setting. When you’re dressing your table…or your home…the end result isn’t about the individual pieces, it’s about how you tie it all together! The green vintage water goblets were inherited from my Grandmother. The napkin rings were a steal from the online home sample sale site One Kings Lane which is one of my favorite places to shop for my home. My lattice patterned flatware from Lunt Silversmiths was another One Kings Lane score at $29 for a five piece setting.
You can see the detail of the lattice pattern in this close-up photo. I just love this flatware set!
Here’s the table just before guests arrived. For dinner I served baked chicken breasts with sun dried tomatoes and goat cheese (an Ina Garten recipe), roasted asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes! I think food always looks better on a beautifully set table and my dinner looked delicious! (Sorry I didn’t take a photo!) If you like this table setting, here’s how you can achieve the look:
1. Bamboo 20 Pc Flatware Set, $29.99 at Target. 2. Lacquered Gold Dot Chargers – Set of 4, $24.99 at Target. 3. Crystal Candlesticks, $14 at Homedecorators.com. 4. Gibson Elements Classic White Dinnerware 6 Pc Set, $19.99 at Macy’s. 5. Set of 4 Colorblock Linen Dinner Napkins, Sferra. 6. Fieldcrest Luxury Linen Hemstitch Tablecloth (various sizes), $16.99 at Target. 7. Green Vintage Glass Goblets – Set of 8 available on Ebay. 8. Oval Classic Napkin Ring, $3.95 each at Crate & Barrel. 9. Optimal White Wine Glass, $1.99 each at Ikea. 10. Floral Arrangement, Opalia Flowers in Brooklyn. (Or arrange your own with flowers from your local grocery store or deli!)
I have fond memories of receiving my first set of personalized stationery. When I was 6 or 7 my mom surprised me with a set of pink, purple and sea green folded note cards, note pads and envelopes with little seashells all over and I thought it was beyond cool that my name was printed on them. I would always find excuses to write notes to people just so I could use it. Nowadays personal correspondence is all about speed and convenience. The prevalence of email has made correspondence quite impersonal and new innovations like text messaging and Twitter make the process of communicating quite thoughtless, reducing our words to a mere 140 characters. Handwritten correspondence is a dying art. It’s easy to send off an email but taking the time to hand write a note conveys a thoughtfulness and a level of sophistication that an email will never be able to capture.
My chic & simple correspondence cards from Neiman Marcus
These days my stationery preference is a flat correspondence card and I can’t resist a colorful tissue-lined envelope. I use my stationery often…for jotting off quick thank you’s, sending notes along with packages or even just a a simple to say hi. My personalized correspondence cards shown above were a relatively inexpensive buy from Neiman Marcus but also I love to splurge on top quality ready-to-write stationery from brands like Smythson of Bond Street and a handful of others. It’s such a treat for myself and I get great pleasure out of using it. If you’re not sure where to go for chic social stationery, below are my top 5 picks. Can you guess which is my favorite? (See my desk above!)
Smythson of Bond Street is one of my favorite sources for social stationery. In 1887 Frank Smythson opened his eponymous shop on New Bond Street and quickly became the preferred stationer of London’s upper crust. The company’s heritage for creating the finest luxury paper goods is still alive more than 120 years later. Smythson’s “Stiletto” and “Skull & Crossbones” correspondence cards are my top picks from the their vast array of bespoke and ready-to-write stationery. Stiletto Correspondence Cards, $84 for 10 and Skull & Crossbones Correpsondence Cards, $50 for 10.
Bernard Maisner, who might just be the most exceptionally skilled calligrapher alive, is also a renowned stationer. In fact, he is a favorite stationer among the fashion set with a client roster that includes Zac Posen, Ralph Lauren and Valentino. Bernard Maisner offers luxe ready-to-write and custom stationery with copperplate engraved designs on 100% cotton archival paper. His hand painted papers, like the butterfly motif cards below, are literally works of art. The butterfly motif is engraved in gold then each card is hand painted and finally the edges are finished off by hand in a shocking pink. Beyond chic. These are a splurge at $100 for 8 cards.
Dempsey & Carroll
This 130-year-old stationer, founded in New York City, is known for their quality stationery made with the highest standards and attention to detail. Their papers are hand engraved using fine inks and cotton papers. Dempsey and Carroll offers a great selection of chic boxed set stationery that includes limited-edition collaborations with the likes of interior designer Celerie Kemble, event planner Bronson Van Wyck and fashion designer Lela Rose. I love Bronson Van Wyck’s Snake Border cards below which feature a richly textured engraved snake border with a hand painted red eye detail. The envelopes are lined in a faux snake print paper. This incredibly chic set is $65 for 10 cards and envelopes.
Luke Pontifell was just a precocious high school student when he founded Thornwillow Press in 1985 after taking a book binding course and falling in love with the art. Nearly 30 years later Thornwillow press is still in the business of binding, printing and publishing exquisite books but is also now one of the foremost purveyors of fine engraved and letterpress stationery. I’m a big fan of their Initial Note Cards, shown below, which are available in three colorways with colored edges and matching tissue lined envelopes. At $45 for 10 cards and envelopes, these are amazing value for the quality. Thornwillow’s Motif cards are available in more than 100 motifs and my top three picks are also pictured below. The Peacock Feather motif is $48 for 10 cards and lined envelopes. The Lightning Bolt and Bicycle motif cards are each $35 for a set of 10 cards.
A newcomer on the social stationery scene, Sugar Paper is an LA based company with a sweet offering of custom and ready-to-write papers. The Sugar Paper collection is youthful and stylish, offering a modern spin on tradition. I’m loving the gold foil printed Crown Noteset shown below which is $36 for 10 cards and envelopes. Also shown below is one of Sugar paper’s custom designs – a super cute scalloped edge note set.
I’m obsessed with DwellStudio’s stylish new tabletop collection! The recently launched line includes placemats, dinner napkins, runners, coasters, cocktail napkins and aprons (the latter three are new introductions). The pieces are all 100% linen with the exception of the placemats and runners which are a linen/cotton blend. All of the items were made using eco-friendly dyes and feature, modern, graphic prints in sophisticated colors that would blend well in any interior setting. The prints and patters were designed with mixing and matching in mind. Above, the Chionoiserie placemats (my favorite!) are paired with the Gate napkins in java…a super chic combination!
Here is the Gate placemat and napkin in the sun colorway. All of the placemats in the collection are $27 and the printed dinner napkins are $18.
Inspired by modern art, the Color Field print resembles vivid brush strokes. The graphic placemat is paired with a more classic Border napkin in white linen with a dove border. The Border napkins are $22.
Here are placemats and napkins in the Wooodblock print. This graphic print with its bold color palette was influenced by Mid-Century Danish art and culture.
The Mosaic placemats and napkins are decidedly modern with a rich geometric pattern.
And how cute are these Gate coasters? At only $24 for a set of four, these would make the perfect hostess gift!
And I absolutely love these aprons! A must-have for the stylish cook. They are $48. Be sure to check out dwellstudio.com
to see more of the new table collection. The pieces should be ready to ship in a couple of weeks!