Rattan Lines

(Click any picture or link in this post to see the item in store.)

I saw a beautiful table in a Michael Amini advertisement for his Bella Cera dining room furniture that inspired this post. I was amazed at how it looked so down-to-earth and elegant at the same time.

The solid wood table had no tablecloth. Each place had a woven round place mat or charger. (There are square versions of these out there if you have square dinner plates.) Before you decide that I’ve fallen back a couple of decades, wait for the finished result!

Any of these chargers I found individually for around $10.00 looked cheap or like they might fall apart after several uses, except for this one for $10.99 from Crate&Barrel.

Rattan Placemat

I would suggest making the place mat/charger contrast with your table — as in light table, dark chargers or dark table, light chargers.

Most of these come in sets of four and the prices are comparable at common department stores. This dark brown rattan charger is from Kohl’s and comes in a set of four on sale for $35.99 (from $59.99).

Charge It 4-pc. Charger Plate Set

There are similar styles from Bealls (Round Rattan Charger Plate (Set of 4))
for $31.78, and Target for $32.49, or there are these chargers for $9.99 at hayneedle.com (sale price).

I really loved the look of these Round Madras Chargers from World Market. Again they are comparable in price as a set of four is $35.96. I love the contrasting colors and unique weave.

ROUND MADRAS CHARGERS

Pottery Barn also has a Paros Rattan Round Charger for $19.50 and a Tava Round Charger for $18.00 (sold individually) if you are looking for something a bit different.

Directly on top of these chargers were elegant plates. They appeared to be a blue floral pattern that matched the bowls sitting on top of them, but I envisioned instead solid white plates with a pattern around the rim. I love these Mikasa Dinnerware American Countryside plates for this look. They have little flowers scrolling around the rim. You can get them at Macy’s. (Click the image for a link to a closer look.)

Mikasa Dinnerware, American Countryside Dinner Plate

Next came the blue and white bowls. Again, I’m going to use my own inspiration here, but I think something like these Paula Deen Tatnall Street Blue Bell Soup Bowls would look really pretty here. (And wouldn’t you know it — they’re on sale!)

Tatnall Street Blue Bell Soup Bowls

(If you prefer the matching plates, there is a whole collection of coordinating items.)

The napkins are what really made this entire table look so charming. They were tucked slightly under each bowl, on top of each plate, and were clean and crisp but a bit rustic and rough around the edges. The ones in the ad appeared to be a soft pink or mauve, maybe even pastel purple color, which looked amazing and cheerful next to the blue in the bowls.

I really really like these purple napkins I found on Amazon, though I suppose you might want green, red or a peachy-orange for winter or fall. (And yes, these come in other colors!)

The table was decorated with plants, white votive candles and appetizers like a bowl of fresh-picked fruit, a loaf of bread on a wooden cutting board, and what appeared to be condiments like honey and jam. You can see the table by clicking the link in the first paragraph of this entry, but I am not going to post the original image because it had a sort-of European background and I want you to picture it in your own home, on your own table. I’m going to say it is “rustic elegance.”

I also ran across a couple more items that might be fun to add. How about some rattan coasters for cool drinks since there wasn’t a tablecloth? (The table was set with wine glasses in the ad.) A set of four is $12.95 at Pier1.

Rattan Coasters

And I don’t know … I just liked this Pfaltzgraff chicken canister. Normally I would avoid decorating with chickens but this just seemed to fit the theme somehow. Maybe because of the woven basket design on the bottom.  (It is labeled as a rooster. I disagree. I strongly believe this is a hen!)

Pfaltzgraff Dinnerware, Country Cupboard Rooster Canister

I’m thinking this table would look beautiful for any occasion but I can seriously picture it next to a homemade easter egg tree in the spring. You know — the kind with the blown egg shells, dyed by kids and hung on a tree branch with a piece of ribbon? Or how about with pale orange napkins and harvest decor for fall? Switch to gold embellishments with deep reds and greens and maybe an evergreen centerpiece and it would be a beautiful rustic or old-fashioned Christmas table. The beauty is that it is very versatile.

En-Light-ening Bottles

Pottery Barn has bottle lamps that a lot of people are falling in love with. I spotted the first bottle lamp I saw at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store.

… Well, maybe not the first bottle lamp I ever saw in my life, as this is an old DIY idea that often utilizes antique jugs or wine bottles … but the first really pretty, appealing one!

The lamp and shade are just basically sitting on the bottle — at least with the Cracker Barrel version — as the light itself is attached to a cork that pulls out of the top of the bottle. It occurred to me when I saw this that you could actually fill the bottle with something like layers of colored sand, marbles, seashells, glass beads, dried flowers — anything! and just dump it all back out when you got tired of it or if you decided to change your decorating theme.

As I wandered the Internet and the halls of Pinterest, I happened to run across pictures of people making these bottle/jug lamps themselves.

This is a thing now!

I especially liked reading this blog post (< click the link) on The Concrete Cottage about how they made their lamp.

Seriously though, I feel like if you know enough about electricity to unplug an appliance before you try to fix it, and you have a Cork Stopper Lamp Kit (apparently these are available everywhere, including online!) then you can make a bottle lamp. The DIY blogs don’t even really have to spell it out.

If you would rather just buy a pretty bottle lamp and a lampshade, you have some options.

These are an example famed Pottery Barn “jug lamps.” The “Clift Glass Table Lamp Base – Clear” ranges from $120 – $170 and also comes in a green glass version.

CLIFT GLASS TABLE LAMP BASE - CLEAR

Pottery Barn actually has a variety of these “glass lamps” so be sure to browse and search if you check them out.

Here is ClarkBetty.com’s “HGTV Clear Glass Bottle Table Lamp with Cork Neck” for $138.00.

HGTV Clear Glass Bottle Table Lamp with Cork Neck

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store’s version (shown below) is considerably lower priced at $39.99, though not yet available on their online store. If you want to order it you can call 1-800-333-9566 and tell them you want the Glass Jug Lamp from the theme “Red.” The SKU number is 428845.

Cracker Barrel Glass Jug Lamp

Whether you buy it or make it yourself, a bottle lamp can be a subtle addition to your home or a stand-out accent piece. Use your imagination and let us know how it turns out.

Now if you can put together a ship-in-a-bottle lamp, then I’ll really be impressed!

A Little Bit Country, a Little Bit on the Rocks

Mug Style Mason Jar Drinking Glasses

I’ve seen a lot of these “drinking jars” lately. People have been seeking them for outdoor wedding centerpieces and quirky al fresco parties. They are sometimes labeled as “redneck” or “country” glassware and advertised as something to add “hillbilly fun” to your table or party. There is even a “country stemware” version in which a jar is glued to what basically looks like a glass taper candle holder to make a “redneck wine glass.” Despite their labeling, people everywhere are using them as quaint, quirky and simple, down-to-earth additions to their parties. The key to using them in a sophisticated way is to put something pretty in them!

Out in the wholesome country it might be all sweet iced tea and lemonade but add a bit of creativity and you can have some of the most très jolie (and fun) drinks on the block!

Of course iced tea and lemonade is always a touch prettier with lemon slices thrown into the pitcher or glass, but think about adding other fruits, frozen fruit, or colorful ice cubes! This works in water too — and the bonus is that fresh fruit always gives plain old water a little something special. Slide berries or pieces of fruit onto cocktail skewers and freeze them to serve double duty as flavor and chillers — or throw some fruit into your ice-cube tray to make these!

You absolutely have to check out these wildflower/floral ice cubes suggested by A Cup of Jo. You’ll find the How-To here.

Let’s not discount (a pun?) the frugal way out — add just a drop of liquid food coloring or use any “powdered soft drink” to add color to your ice cubes, water, or other beverage. Or, as Martha Stewart suggests, freeze some of the drink you plan to enjoy ahead of time, so that your cubes don’t water down your beverage.

But this post was supposed to have a bit more kick….

mitt-rumney-mojitoIn my opinion, Mojitos and Mint Juleps are gorgeous drinks and part of that is because they look so simple and refreshing!

Traditionally, Mojitos use pure cane sugar. You can easily find raw sugar cane swizzle sticks to garnish your drink (and I’m told they’re delicious) and if you want to give your drink a little twist and a little color, try making Black Cherry Mojitos!

Here’s an authentic Kentucky recipe for a Mint Julep from a well-known Louisville (home of the Kentucky Derby) restaurant. (If you are serving your Mint Juleps from traditional silver or pewter Mint Julep cups, it is customary to hold them at the very top or very bottom of the glass!)

Here is another of the most beautiful drinks I’ve ever seen. It has been circulated on Pinterest as “Paradise” but the Paradise is actually a “martini” that looks nothing like this.

Paradise?

This is actually layers of light rum, Malibu rum, blue curaçao, pineapple juice and grenadine.

And here’s one that is perfect for outdoor parties or weddings — High Street Market shared a recipe they found in Country Living in 2009 for a simple, homemade sangria. Basically, you use a bottle of white wine for every three cans of Fresca and add fresh fruit! Gorgeous!

Or how about a beautiful and fruity Frenchy? (Does it make you want to reach out and kiss someone?)

Of course something you can never go wrong with when you’re trying to make drinks pretty is bubbles! Champagne in itself is captivating but turn it into a Mimosa for the color factor. Bellinis are pretty cocktails that are traditionally made with peach puree and sparkling wine (but I’m partial to strawberry)!  Here’s a recipe for an Orange Blossom Gin Fizz, which I’ve never tried but it looks delicious! There’s also the “Cherry Moon” or “Dirty Shirley” — cherry vodka with lemon-lime soda and a bit of grenadine. And here’s an article of 10 Perfect Champagne Cocktails from Saveur. Add a slice of fruit, a sprig of mint, or a skewer of frozen fruit (as mentioned above) to any of these to make them look magnificent!

If you’re interest is piqued, there are more absolutely beautiful drinks pinned on Pinterest.

So where can you get the perfect jar to serve these lovely drinks in? Considering how popular they’ve become — even if only as conversation pieces — it won’t be hard. You could even just go buy regular canning jars from the supermarket or cooking supply store. However, if you’d rather have the “real deal” complete with a “handle,” here are some links:

6 Piece Country Folk Drinking Jar Set from Kitchen Kapers – $19.99

Personalized Glass Drinking Jars (Set of 4) from Nordstrom – $36.00

Jar Glasses on Etsy –  price varies depending on seller