Monday, September 22, 2014

St. Louis Wedding through the Eyes of the Groom's Mother

What can be better in life than attending a destination wedding with a close group of friends? Absolutely nothing!!!
 But first of all, let me explain something very important to this story. My close  friends and  I are  friends with the mother of the groom.  So our little bird's eye view of the upcoming nuptials were completely through her  crazy Italian eyes.
Our first duty as friends was to help plan the décor of the rehearsal dinner.  So my buddy Laurell drove 6 hours  with Christy to St Louis to choose a restaurant!  After spending 24 hours there, a restaurant was chosen.  Well, not really.  That would be too easy! The original choice was abandoned and a new search was on. Thank the Lord for the internet.  Once we knew an Italian venue was chosen, we proceeded to create the table décor for the dinner.
  And I can assuredly state that no other mother of the groom ( or even any bride)  has ever been so focused on finding the right dress- months of discussions- truly. In June, in  a severe desperate move, she even ordered a dress from China - a promise of a luxurious  designer gown at a truly unbelievable price.  As we anxiously  waited  2 weeks for the "China" dress to arrive, we planned a cocktail party to unveil the dress.  Tracking the dress from China, as if it was Santa Claus himself, bringing a million dollar gift, the dress arrived. Not waiting for us  ( if you can't tell already, she's very impulsive),  Christy opened the box and immediately sent out a text to cancel the party.  The dress was already in the trash.  Darn- we really thought that one was the one!   And after finding the right dress ( one she had found in the beginning of this little journey), the search was then  on for the shoes!  After ordering and trying on pairs and pairs and pairs- none were just right- too high, too expensive, too much,  just too! So my quick witted friend Laurell goes shopping with Christy at a high end department store outlet and they find a potential pair of shoes. Graceful, black, yet simple, these shoes will become our victim- we can't bear the thought of more shoe discussions!   Laurell suggests gluing rhinestones up the back of the heel- I think she's on to something big!  And I remember seeing a picture of another  pair of Christy's  rejected shoes with an incredible heel detail.  And I knew that a David Tutera embellishment from Joanne's would be  just the ticket to a fabulous pair of shoes.  A little E-6000 glue and a couple of clothes pins to hold it in place while it dried,- voila- a $1000 shoe look-a like!  More on those shoes later in the post!
So after these months of planning and laughing and just having fun- the wedding took place in St Louis this past weekend.  Leaving from Chicago on Friday morning, many  cars of Christy's friends  head south to St Louis, traveling through the "less than stimulating"  flat land of southern Illinois..  My car is loaded with wine bottles and red roses for the rehearsal dinner.
I have never spent any time in St. Louis, so this was a treat for me!  We stayed at the Chase Park Plaza in the west end with lots of great eateries.  The architecture was inspiring.

Tops of the roofs of the historic townhomes.
These street lamps were unbelieveable!

The balloon festival was also taking place in St Louis this weekend!  Awesome!
After getting checked in to the hotel,  Candy, Laurell and I head over to Cucina Pazzo to set up the rehearsal dinner while the bridal party is  at the wedding rehearsal.
Graciously being greeted by the  awesome Cucina Pazzo staff,  they help us  with the tables.  We decided to create a long communal table. ( highly recommend this restaurant!)

Some of the wine bottles were filled with roses and some with candlelabra holders.

Candy plays with the menu card and we finally decide on a simple layout and drape the black napkin over the edge.  

Labels of the Italian flag and a thank you from the bride and groom were glued on to the wine bottles.
Then hand dyed silk ribbon and a wax seal were added to the neck of the bottle.

We created a  menu in the shape of the Italian flag.
Laurell suggests opening some of the buds  and creating a larger flower.
Great idea- they look good  just laying on the table.

Can't wait to see all the candles lit!

A few rose petals get scattered along the center.
A fun task complete, Candy, Laurell and I head back to the hotel to have a glass of wine!
It's now  the day of the wedding and the weather is glorious. 
The wedding vows are complete and the new couple are heading back down the aisle.  
And as Christy's son passes his mom, the sweetest smile is on his face. 

He grabs her arm and pulls her into the sweetest mother-son hug.

Thank the Lord for water proof eye make-up!

A glance backwards to his mother- as he continues down the aisle.
Now that's a wonderful son! She raised him right!

  Red roses, tulips, ranunculus make up the bouquets.
We head back to the hotel for the reception and enjoy cocktails
 on an open terrace over looking St. Louis.

And  as if the red flowers were not enough red,
mother nature gives us a stunning red sunset to enjoy
Yes - a magical wedding day for sure!


Beautiful wedding cake with red roses. 
But what about those shoes?

Lordy me- what a statement!!

This Italian momma has great legs- you go girl!

Mission accomplished!
It's Sunday morning- time to head back to Chicago-  driving up I 55 - through that glorious maze of flat corn fields. Ugh! 
A little too much partying last night, but I wouldn't give up the memories or the friendship for the world.  This had been a fun journey with Christy- truly one of the most fun friends a girl can have.
I hope it was a magical time for her, in spite of all those gut wrenching wardrobe decisions that she was forced to make this year. 
By the way,  She Looked Fabulous!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Faded Roses

My husband loves to grow roses for me.  It's truly a labor of love. He cuts them and brings them in to the kitchen and places them in a water glass.  Never a vase- just a water glass.  That's his ritual!
My ritual  is to take them out of the water glass and arrange them in a beautiful container.  The container choice varies depending on my mood.   But no matter what I put them in,  I enjoy them in perfect bloom and love them even more as they begin to fade.  It's hard to throw them away!

Fresh from the garden and arranged in a laboratory beaker.

The chilly days of autumn have arrived and the garden roses will soon be done for the season.

 Perfect petals at their peak-

But even when they fade, they are still beautiful.

 The colors seem to deepen as they fade away-

I save some of the perfectly   dried roses and place them in small cordials on the kitchen table.

A French rose scented candle adds the sweet rose smell that the dried roses are missing.

 A fresh rose is iced with sugar and dried in the oven.
 It's a pretty  garnish on blood orange and vanilla breakfast crepes.

Rose scented soap will have to substitute for  the scent of fresh roses this winter.

The hand painted rose sugar bowl reminds me of our rose garden all winter.

Yes, it is getting cold outside and they are fading even faster-

I will hurry and sugar a few more roses  before the first frost.
The sugar coated petals are beautiful garnishes and keep a long time in an air tight container.
I brushed the petals with a  glue of lightly beaten egg white and a dash of water. Then you dust them with sugar and dry them in the oven at 150 degrees for about 45 minutes.  Make sure they are completely dry before storing in an air tight container.

 Faded yes- but still gorgeous! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Dish Pantry

Returning from my summer in North Carolina, I realized that I have many tough tasks to accomplish here, before retiring and moving there!  This will not be an easy road for someone who has occasionally been called a dish hoarder and sometimes much worse !  Yes, I do have a dish fetish and it's time to confront it now.  My husband says it will take a semi  just to move my dishes!  So I decided to spend labor day weekend tackling the job of cleaning out my dish pantry. My goal was to get everything off the floor and to eliminate dishes that I could live without (not such an easy decision, as I have spent the past 40 years gathering my own little store house of dining finery!)

When we remodeled the kitchen, I decided to eliminate  upper cabinets and instead built a dish pantry. It's much easier to see what you have, rather than trying to climb up into upper cabinets. 

A heavy old door with beveled thick glass guards the storehouse of collected goodies.


I like peering through the glass to the colorful contents that wait
 for their chance to be used on a dining table.

As I grab the ornate handle and open the door-

Oh- the confessions of a dish hoarder!

Tearing up, I realize how many memories are stored in here. So with a case of the shakes and  sweating profusely, I began the daunting task.

I mean really- I even have oil paintings hanging of china!
Really, Susan???
Doesn't this just make your heart skip a beat? 

The oil and vinegar cruets that Mr.RTH gave to me for Christmas 8 years ago-
a must keep.

One of my first purchases on EBAY- old cream soup bowls.  Surely I can't get rid of those.

If there's anything that makes my heart skip a beat- it's gold gilding. 
To get rid of  these?    Simply not going to happen!

 The beautiful red champagne glasses that my staff at Marshall Field's gave me for Christmas one year!   Staying!!!
 My stash of horn salad dishes!  Perfect for our new cottage on the river for sure!
 A stack of old bread boards in silver trays!  Way to hard to find again!  Staying!

A stack of tin plated bowls from France!   Perfect for rustic dinners in our cottage.  Not going either!
 My mother's china!  Lovingly gathered from the gas stations in Henry County, Virginia. It was a give-away with a fill-up!   Plus, I love it's color- grey and gold.  . Surely, I can't be forced to  give up my mother's china!

My pink and turquoise stash, including the magnificent pink depression glass shrimp cocktail glasses that my Romancing the Home girls gave me!  A must keep!

These sweet little violet teacups.  Just can't- 
Natural shell bowls and salad plates- perfect for Carolina shrimp and crab.  
 My first collected piece of old Paris porcelain.  Pasta bowls from the personal chef to
 King George V.  Or so I was told by the dealer that sold them to me!
 Too good of a story to let them go. 
 Okay- another version of gold!  But I love them.
 My collection of old bakery cake plates.  It took me 30 years to find all those sizes.  I don't have another 30 years.
 My collected grouping of mis- matched Venetian green glasses, many of them gifts.
Green goes with everything and it's going with me.

A stack of gilded band white porcelain plates- so yummy and versatile in their use.
Gilding- shiny gold that makes me smile.   Mine to keep!

 A set of game and fish dishes-  everyone needs a set!  Staying in the Hawthorne arsenal  and moving to NC.

 A stack of Fitz and Floyd Cherubini pattern dessert plates- used for many Christmas dinners.
Lovingly gathered by my friend Lynda Sue and I during our time at Robinson's in California.  We both have a set, so I can't let them go.  Plus they are GOLD!  And just look at those sweet little faces- saying "keep me, keep me"!
A newer passion- Blackberry Farms orange and white dishes.  Some were given to my by friends and some were purchased during my delightful stays at the farm.  Going back to the part of the country from which they came!

 A grouping of old quadruple plate bread baskets, a very popular wedding gift in the 1930's. I love to use them as salad bowls or individual antipasto trays.  Just can't live without them.
Newly polished hotel silver ice cream bowls.  Surely Mr.RTH understands the need for these!

 My collection of French pottery, much bought while in Paris last summer.  Memories!

Leopard goes with everything! And it's going with me!

Tartan collection, perfect for a North Carolina cottage.
Well, Labor Day weekend is almost over, and  the  dish pantry is cleaned out, organized and everything is off the floor.  It took two days and a lot of painful decisions. There are simply too many memories in that closet!  My car is loaded with goodies for the shop and a couple of treasures  are still setting on the  kitchen counter for a final heartbreaking  decision. More Villerory and Boch from Marshall Fields, the pattern Medici.  Just looked it up on Replacements and the plates are selling for $49.99.  I sure do like it- so what's it going to be?  The dish hoarder needs to make another gut wrenching  decision.

 Looks like it's only half a semi needed for the dishes going to  North Carolina !  Next chore- the crystal stash! That's a semi on it's own!