Dinner Party

november-28-2008-thanksgiving-002-2Someone has proposed, well not someone but the very gregarious VP of Veg Plotting, that we have an imaginary dinner party to help pass the time until spring gardening can put our idle minds and bodies to work again.february-4-2009-030-21Today my very first issue of BBC’s Gardens Illustrated arrived via post, February 2009. I am a chronic anglophile, have been since birth. Growing up in Oklahoma, adults sometimes would ask me what nationality I was, not sounding like the other native Okies. Being quite young and impressionable, I cried out that I was an American, what did they think I was? British, was the answer. Maybe in another life, for I love all things English, but most of all English gardens. I have inherited a few paintings from my grandmother of cottage garden scenes and never tire of gazing deeply into the flowers and imagining myself among them.february-4-2009-040-21Grabbing the lifeline to get back on topic, in the precious magazine was an interview with a nurseryman. Among the questions asked was “Who would you most like to have dinner with (past or present)? He named some plant afficionados and wanted a picnic in the woods. Since we have already been cogitating on this very question, we though it appropriate for mention here.february-4-2009-038-2In the past, way back in time, we have given many a dinner party. The menu was well thought out, depending on our theme, the table set formally, entertainment for before and after planned and it was all great fun. Since the move back to Tennessee from Texas, we have had zero of those sorts of festivites. In fact, the dining room table is home to projects of various kinds. At the moment it is seed sorting time. We participated in Garden Faerie Monica’s seed exchange and just recently mailed off the package to the next recipient on the list after taking a few choice items to give a try here. The seeds are sorted by indoor starting and outdoor sowing, with new ones being added as catalog orders arrive. There would have to be quite a clean up to be able to eat in here. It would mess up this highly refined system. This is actually the after the clean up photo.february-4-2009-044-2We also inherited pretty place settings of dishes, glassware and sterling, the family pattern, all funneling down to me, the last of the line.february-4-2009-045-2Always a bit rebellious, I even bought fancy dishes of my own, this pattern struck my fancy. A few were given as wedding gifts and then we found the same pattern at an antiques store with serving dishes. Even though several were cracked, we bought the set and now can use them for the big family get togethers.february-4-2009-046-21But as the offspring of the offspring have grown some and are now full partners in the eating department, the switch is sometimes made to the good old paper products. Made from recycled material and biodegradable too.thanksgiving-2007-027-2For truth be known, some of the guests at my dream dinner party are quite young and some have a propensity for dropping, spilling and other endeavors, like putting Mike Schmidt in one’s back pocket as they are cooking. My dinner companions would be the Fairegarden clan. Gardeners and garden lovers one and all. We don’t get to be together but a couple of times a year and they are the ones I would slave in the kitchen for every time.
I know you were expecting me to pick Piet Oudolf.

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46 Responses to Dinner Party

  1. marmee says:

    i love your personal touch to these past two posts. what a lovely little place to be wed, besides the heat that is. love the flowers you are holding, calily is my favourite flower.
    your nusery is grand with the helpful owner being there, too.

    Hi Marmee, thanks so much. I want you to know that you are one of the reasons I felt more comfortable showing the faces of my family. I am so proud of them and want readers to see them once in a while. We mail ordered the callas from California and worried about them reaching us at the right time, not too early to fade and of course not too late. Ruth the nursery owner is so full of information, she really knows her stuff! πŸ™‚

  2. Semi says:

    HahaHa I am still laughing about Mike S in your pocket. We do love coming to fairegarden for festivities.we are lucky to have you guys so close. I love the bit about u being British. I can just see u now. Love semi

    Hello dear Semi, we are really on a family thing here lately. Dear ol Mike Schmidt. I don’t remember if I had ever told you that British story before. I was so upset, not wanting to be different from the other kids but singled out for my enunciation. I was at my grandmother’s in Norman and she thought it was funny. πŸ™‚
    Love, Frances

  3. Steve says:

    LOL, I was also having a laugh at the Mike Schmidt guy, falling out of your pocket. I miss my daily routines with babies and young ones, frankly, and I have to admit I would do exactly the same. That, in fact, is a “no brainer”, as they say. Mark Twain, Will Rogers…….those guys can wait.

    Hi Steve, thanks. I assume you know who Mike is, or was, HA. I am not sure if that was the idea behind this meme, but like you, this is a no brainer for me.

  4. Kathy in Napa says:

    Frances, your blog is charming and I have been enjoying it daily for several weeks. I have always wanted to do the library thing with my dining room, and think that seed sorting is a very appropriate task that repurposes an often underused space , much like my library dream-although your dining room looks to be about twice the size of mine!
    We have spring here. Daffodils blooming, tulips rising, and my virtual dinner party would include a walk through the garden , with a fetching umbrella, and a nice glass of wine

    Hi Kathy, thanks and welcome. I agree, dining rooms and libraries are perfect room mates. I have torn out sheets of magazine photos showing different ways to set up shelving, etc. in a dining room, but never acted on it. I would love to attend your party, we have been to Napa and it is so beautiful. Daffodils blooming, Hooray!

  5. chuck b. says:

    Who’s Mike Schmidt? And tell us more about Gardens Illustrated…I never heard of if it. Also, those poppy seed heads–how old are they? Tell us all about those.

    I love a dinner party post…What a great idea. We never do that, unfortunately, but I’ll have to come up with something for the blog.

    If you ever come to Bernal Heights, I’ll introduce you the mad English woman across the street and her crazy, crazy garden overgrown with old climbing roses. Oy vey. Her dinner parties are very special and I love to get invited.

    Hi Chuck, you are so funny. Mike Schmidt was a big hitting third baseman on the 1970s and 80s World Series winning Philadelphia Phillies baseball team. My husband is from PA and we lived there for 11 years, all the kids were born there, all big Phillies fans. Mike’s figure was in a basket of old toys that LTB found and was playing with in the kitchen while we were cooking. Those poppies are from last year, P. somno… that were dipped in poly when I was making the leaf castings. I would love to meet the mad English woman and her roses! And you, hope you go to Chicago. BBC Gardens Illustrated is an English gardening magazine that has been mentioned in several blogs, US and UK. I just subscribed last December and finally received an issue. It is not cheap, but worth every penny.

  6. Genevieve says:

    Who’s Mike Schmidt!!! Only a super-awesome baseball player, that’s who!! (says Gen Schmidt, no relation but proud all the same.)

    Love the invitation into your home and life, Frances.

    HA Genevieve, a surprise Mike S. fan, well maybe not a surprise given your name! Your planning post has me looking for some graph paper for that veggie garden that is still under three inches of snow. The sun doesn’t shine of it quite yet being too low in the sky still. That is the job that is calling my name. Thanks for peeking into the dinner party scenario! πŸ™‚

  7. eliz says:

    I love dinner parties. They are a great way to get through the winter.

    Hi Elizabeth, thanks for stopping by. Dinner parties, real or virtual do give us a diversion until the snow melts. We still have snow on the ground here in the shady areas, like my veggie garden, even with 60 degree temps. Sure it will melt after a few more days like that.

  8. Tessa says:

    Well, this was a nice party you’ve invited us to! Thank-you for the warm welcome into you’re home. What a cute little guest you have there- such a great helper with fixing your back pocket; I guess he thought the finishing touch would be Mike Schmidt πŸ™‚

    Hi Tessa, thanks for coming! We all got a good laugh about him thinking Mike belonged there, including him. πŸ™‚ Love that you got to spread that black gold on your veggie bed.

  9. VP says:

    Frances – thanks for the lovely glimpse into your home. I’m so glad you can use my meme for the perfect excuse for an impromptu family get together πŸ™‚

    I loved your ‘British’ tale and isn’t Gardens Illustrated a treat to read?

    I hope you all have a fantastic time!

    Hi VP, thanks for hosting this fun meme, I look forward to reading everyone’s guest lists. The magazine is worth every penny and I will save them forever to refer back to. Sorry, offspring, these will not be passed on to you, but you can look at them carefully when you come to visit. πŸ™‚

  10. catmint says:

    Hi Frances, I enjoyed imagining both the dinner party and being inside the magic cottage garden.

    Hi Catmint, thanks for coming! Isn’t that garden picture just the stuff of dreams? I like to look at it before retiring for the night to plant that seed of thought. It works, too! πŸ™‚

  11. Darla says:

    Great post, it’s nice to learn about our garden friends out of the garden as well as in. Lovely home, great dish with the pink trim, love the gourds and what a cutie pie in the last photo!

    Hi Darla, thanks so much for coming! My home is full of simple things from the garden and antiques passed down to me, all the things I love. πŸ™‚ So glad your garden survived that cold snap.

  12. Randy says:

    I would be perfectly content to live out the remainder of my life in that beautiful painting! That would be my dream house. Thanks for the peek into you home.

    Hi Randy, thanks for coming! Isn’t that the most wonderful fantasy cottage and garden? It has influenced my gardening all my life too since I have owned it for more than twenty five years.

  13. Frances,
    What a warm and wonderful story. Family — perfect!

    I’m also an anglophile! Gardens Illustrated is a favorite.

    Hi Cameron, thanks for coming to the party too! I thought you had mentioned that magazine, it is the best by far. And your garden style is also that cottagey look that I love. πŸ™‚

  14. Rose says:

    Frances, I like your idea of entertaining! My dinner party–when I get it all organized–will be casual, too. Spending time with your youngest dinner guest sounds like the perfect evening—and I actually know who Mike Schmidt is, even if he played for the rival team:)

    I think if you invited guests other than your family, they would probably prefer sitting outside with a view of your garden.

    Hi Rose, thanks. So glad you remember our favorite Mike S. too. πŸ™‚ And believe me, the family and I would also like to sit outside in the garden, but since it is winter and snow on the ground we will have to eat in the dining room. Then clear the table for a rousing card game! πŸ™‚

  15. It’s taken about 20 years for my parents to start having family dinners in the dining room again. (My kids are the youngest grandchildren, and are now able to eat off china with actual silverware.) They don’t bother grandma when she’s cooking. The Mike Schmidt figure is too funny.

    Hi MMD, thanks for visiting. I am a doofus for misreading that you were speaking at the garden show, not the bloggers meet up, please forgive me! Like your parents, we started out with fancy dishes when the offpspring were grown but the babies were not part of the at the table group. After some mishaps, we haved changed things around a bit. I still long for Thanksgiving outside, but it has been too cold the last couple of years. Running around is fine, but sitting down to eat makes people and the food too cold! We do love Mike S. πŸ™‚

  16. Hi Frances, it looks like we weould be having such a great time sitting around your grand table talking gardens.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. Just like it will be in Chicago!

  17. Gail says:

    Hi Frances, What an excellent choice for your dinner party and they are fun people, too…You will have a wonderful time. Really, I cannot imagine anything you put together not being filled with laughter, celebration, great food and attention to those important details! Have a great weekend~~gail

    Hi Gail, thanks for joining us. We do like to get together, and part of the fun is that is happens so infrequently. And yes, you pegged the detail oriented slant to all of my endeavors. πŸ™‚

  18. tina says:

    Good choice! And I somehow think I would expect you to pick your family Frances. Love the flowered dishes.

    Hi Tina, thanks. Those who know me well would guess at this choice. So glad you like the dishes too. The background color is what drew my eye.

  19. I think that dining room table looks all homey–no reason to clean it off that I can see! And I’m betting that a dinner party with the clan would be a full of fun and laughter.

    Hi Susan, thanks. I am really glad that the seeds got to stay on the table, it is still in the thick of the seed starting season. One thing that is a given when the clan gets together is lots of laughter. We are a funny group. πŸ™‚

  20. Monica says:

    I too love things English and have since I was a child, as well! My taste in dishes in 1960s Corelle and other retro-feeling things! I have a nice German Rosenthal tea service from the 60s that used to be my mom’s and it’s cool–really cool–in cobalt blue and white fie china, but it’s so timeless, it doesn’t scream the 1950s or 1960s, and I really am tickled by those things that do! πŸ™‚

    Hi Monica, I am surprised at your retro taste! Your blue and white tea set sounds wonderful. So glad you have room in your heart for many styles! πŸ™‚

  21. Anna says:

    Thanks for inviting us into your home. It looks so inviting and comfortable, especially the dining table covered with seed packets. You have chosen the perfect guests. After dinner is eaten and the tidying up done I am sure that you will enjoy further perusal of ‘Gardens Illustrated’ πŸ™‚

    Hi Anna, thank you for joining us. I am in love with Gardens Illustrated!

  22. easygardener says:

    A family dinner party – what a good idea. Saves on the” who should I invite” debate. Your seed covered table looks much like ours. It must be looking forward to dressing up for the occasion too (lol)

    Hi EG, thanks. It is almost too easy, but honestly those are the gardening people I would want to entertain. In my younger days, other more famous gardeners might have made the list. πŸ™‚ That table has been put to many uses over the years. It makes a good sewing table too.

  23. Shirl says:

    Hi there FrancesπŸ™‚

    You’ve certainly set the scene with images from your home. Funnily enough, I too, might have predicated you’d choose family for your guests πŸ˜€ I can see your party will be a fantastic shindig! Do you move the table back to dance πŸ˜‰

    Hi Shirl, HA. You know me too well. For dancing, we move to another room!

  24. Gorgeous! I’m an anglephile too…really a Europhile if there is such a word. Love the back pocket photo! Great concept for a dinner party.

    Hi Helen, thanks. So glad you enjoyed our idea of a fun gardening dinner. πŸ™‚

  25. Tessa says:

    Thanks for the visit, again:) I was wondering- is Mizune the same thing as Mizuna? You’ll love the Corn Salad, but germination can be erratic and the seeds like very cool soil- Happy Gardening!

    Hi Tessa, I love visiting, but have been out of town for a couple of days and have fallen behind. The way things go, I may not get caught up again for a while either. Did I make a typo with the mizuna? That is what I meant. Since I mixed the seeds together, and they popped right up, I will not know what is what until they get larger. It was a big success and we will be eating it soon. Happy gardening to you too. I love that sentiment!

  26. Kathleen says:

    I need to check out this dinner party thing going around. Sounds interesting. Family is the perfect choice for dining although I’d probably select Oprah or Martha or some other fabulous woman mentor. Although I’d actually be terrified to serve ANYTHING to Martha. Maybe I’m an anglophile too and just did’t recognize it? I would love to find myself lost in your painting. On my life list is a trip to England (coinciding with the Chelsea Garden Show of course!)

    Hi Kathleen, as with most of these ideas, being a late joiner is perfectly fine. Just leave your info with good old Mr. Linky. Yes, Martha would be a little stressful. That same trip is on my life list too. Well I don’t really have a life list, but I AM going to England some day. At that same time too.

  27. Brenda Kula says:

    It would be quite uncustomary for me to host a dinner party, as I’m not a great or even frequent cook. But I love the idea of one! My small dining table is in a quite small dining room. Don’t know where I’d put anyone. But I shall dream away anyhow…

    Hi Brenda, I think for this party, anything goes. You can have a great chef fix the food! Have a picnic in a beautiful spot, let your dreams lead the way. πŸ™‚

  28. nancybond says:

    I love to cook, and I love to entertain. πŸ™‚ Your home looks so cozy and so comfortable, Frances — like it is loved and *lived in*. I can’t imagine more delightful guests.

    Hi Nancy, I’ll bet you are an excelllent hostess. Our home is quite cozy, a real down size from our last few, but since we are empty nesters, it is great. Everything is just the right size for us, including much smaller closets. Who needs all those clothes? It has helped us be more dicriminating in our choices of stuff to live with. Those are favorite guests and they are a delight.:-)

  29. Love your house Frances. You did surprise me with your picks. I smiled though.~~Dee

    Hi Dee, thanks so much. These are the gardeners I want to feed! πŸ™‚

  30. jodi says:

    This is so great, Frances. I was expecting you to pick your family, so I just grinned in glee. Who better to share good times with than those you love the most? (but I’d still love to sit at your table with you one day.)

    Hi Jodi, thanks. I would love to have you at my table too. How is the trip to Chicago coming along? Any sponsors?

  31. gittan says:

    Hi Frances,
    You picked just the best guests in the world! Our families are the most inportant we have. We did accually have a big dinnerparty last night. One of my doughters (the one with the new drivers licens) have just turned 20, and we cellebrated her yesterday. I haven’t seen my nephews for a couple og years so I’t brought me a great joy! I liked to see a part of your house inside as well, such a nice home it seems to be / gittan

    Hi Gittan, thanks. Your real life dinner party sounds wonderful. I know it was full of fun and laughter and happy birthday to your driving daughter! Your home looks well loved too. πŸ™‚

  32. Weeping Sore says:

    Winter is clearly the time to stay snug inside and plan real/imaginary dinner parties. Your dining room table is the perfect place to work on winter garden projects. I’ve had to bring my stored seeds indoors. They are generally happy on the north-facing screen porch, but it’s too wet outside now.
    Who is Mike Schmidt, and what is he doing in your back pocket?

    Hi WS, thanks. We have to keep those seeds dry, it’s true. I like to be able to spread out my projects, seeds included and the dining table is perfect. Mike Schmidt was the third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team during the 1970s and 80s when we were living in PA. Our kids had this figure of him and it ended up in a basket of assorted toys that the grandkids like to play with when they visit. The youngest grand decided Mike S. would just fit in my back pocket while I was cooking and it cracked everyone up so a photo was snapped. πŸ™‚

  33. blossom says:

    Oh uh … I’m full. Thanks a lot for inviting me. BTW, you have a beautiful house. what else could a person ask for – beautiful home, beautiful garden, lovely meal … great.

    Hi Blossom, thanks so much. A full guest is a happy guest. So glad you could make it. πŸ™‚

  34. Kathleen says:

    Maybe we’ll run into each other when we travel to England Frances ~ wouldn’t that be interesting and fun?!! I missed a perfect opportunity several years ago when my brother was stationed over there (while in the Marine Corps) Did I misunderstand the instructions ~ were you supposed to invite other gardeners?
    If so, I guess Martha would count but not Oprah. 😦

    Hi Kathleen, that would be fantastic. I imagine England to be full of gardens and gardeners. I think you were to invite garden related, but as with all blog memes, rules were meant to be broken. I think you should invite whomever you please. πŸ™‚ I did.

  35. Cheryl says:

    Your organization is enviable! I love the plate pattern and am with you in spirit! Cheers!

    Hi Cheryl, thanks, but the seeds, like the tags, are one aspect of my homemaking that is not very neat, but there is a system! So glad your spirit could make it!

  36. skeeter says:

    Will there be train music at your dinner party? tee hee, Love the Mike up the butt, oh wait, I mean in the pocket! lol. The offspring of the offspring are too cute! The flowered dishes would be the perfect choice to chase away the winter blues…

    Hi Skeeter, I know what you are getting at, and if there is table dancing, it will be by the younger set. πŸ™‚ You were getting a little risque with old Mike S. HA It is fun to eat on pretty dishes, but we would just use paper until the grands get a little older. If you were coming Skeeter, we would use the good stuff!

  37. Marnie says:

    This would be a wonderful time to host a party for gardeners. Frankly I can’t imagine any gardeners in their right minds wanting to come to northern Illinois in the winter but going to Tennessee sounds like a kinder gentler alternative.

    Hi Marnie, thanks. Since this is a make believe dinner party, let’s make the weather perfect wherever we might be!

  38. VW says:

    A great twist there at the end – of course a family gathering is the best reason to slave in the kitchen. I get garden inspiration from Abbott Fuller Graves’ doorway paintings – have you seen them? Dappled sunlight and overflowing english-style gardens leading up to elegant doorways . . . mmm-mmm! VW

    Hi VW, thanks. Those doorway paintings sound heavenly. I love a scene that I can walk into in fantasy land and dappled sunlight with overflowing gardens…well, it just doesn’t get any better. I will check them out, thanks. πŸ™‚

  39. joey says:

    How wonderful watching sprouting seeds in your children, Frances. I’m sure your party was as good as it gets! We also had a delightful evening with honored guests πŸ™‚

    Hi Joey, thanks, what a delightful way to put it! I know any party you would host would have excellent food and company. πŸ™‚

  40. This is such a delightful dinner party Frances, and a lovely glimpse of your life outside the garden.

    Hi Karen, thanks so much. I am glad you enjoyed some non gardening photos too.

  41. Frances~
    I like your idea of a simple and down to earth dinner party!
    I’d probably do the same:)
    It was nice seeing more of who you are in this post.

    Hi Karrita, thanks. My dining room is eclectic, like the rest of the house, a real mix. And a bit messy. I would much rather work in the garden than clean the house. πŸ™‚

  42. CurtissAnn says:

    What a delightful imaginary party you have! I love seeing your vintage dishes, a favorite of mine. And the photo of your dear small guest is priceless. Thanks for sharing.

    Hi Curtissann, thanks. I am so glad you enjoyed our little make believe date.

  43. TC says:

    I’m no Piet Oudolf, but I can play a pretty good guitar and have been told my singin ain’t half bad either. ;~) (Might I suggest English author Monty Don?)

    Hi TC, that is an enticing offer! I love a good guitar singin’ guest! You may suggest whomever you wish, and invite them to your own imaginary party. πŸ™‚

  44. layanee says:

    A dinner party with family who are garden lovers sounds perfect.

    Hi Layanee, thanks, it does to me too. πŸ™‚

  45. Oh, Frances – I love your house and too bad for Piet! Sorry to have missed your party – maybe I can help you with the dishes?

    Your idea of a dinner with the whole family is a dream for me, too. We’ve had the same dining room table for 30 years – not antique, but like us, approaching vintage! Our kids come here when they can, and we go to them when we can, but haven’t had all of them around that table since we moved to Texas.

    We can dream, can’t we?

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Hi Annie, thanks so much for the dishes offer, but clean up was easy with those compostable paper plates. πŸ™‚ Dreaming of the family being all together around the table is a noble one for us of a certain vintage. Garden celebrities come and go, but our families will always be at the top of any guest list. I do hope you can manage a family dinner sometime, it does take effort. The older the grandkids get, the harder it is to schedule family time too. Our beach trip is a good example of getting everyone in one place at the same time. Probably won’t happen this year, but we will remember the times it did and look forward to whenever it happens again.

  46. Phillip says:

    I didn’t know who Mike Schmidt was either. LOL Enjoyed the post and seeing your kitchen, it looks wonderfully cozy. The dishes are beautiful! I don’t believe I’ve seen Gardens Illustrated but I do occasionally pick up The English Garden at the bookstore. Have you seen it?

    Hi Phillip, thanks for stopping by. It seems Mike S. had a niche following. HA Cozy is the word for our house, code for small. But that is by choice since out kids are all grown now. I subscribe to The English Garden and love the helpful tips by the gardeners best. Gardens Illustrated was mentioned in Nan Ondra’s Hayefield blog and also some of the British bloggers mention it too. It is glorious and of the highest quality, but quite a lot more expensive than the other one. I wanted to buy old issues and was told it could only happen with a phone call to England! Talk about old school! I do plan to save these issue for future dreaming. Your garden style is so English too, you would love this magazine.

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