This week: food. And decor that goes with food. Because I have been eating quite a lot of quite delicious food lately and have been feeling only slightly guilty about it because after all it is Christmas and my birthday and Tuesday and I’m only 20 pounds over my goal weight and mmm…cheese (burp).
So…I’ll start with Christmas dinner, focusing first on decor. Dan and I hosted for our families because (a) we adore hosting dinner parties and things, though I’m sure Dan would use a manlier word. He likes to man host because the planning and preparation of the food is a challenging puzzle and he loves puzzles.
I love it because I think like a hostess. Especially when I decorate. I like to think about how someone would feel walking into and mingling around my rooms. I call this step in decor and fashion the “walk into it” test. Turn around, imagine you’re a stranger (a momentary disassociation), walk out and walk back into the room (or into the mirror). See what your eye catches. Does something look out of place? Edit. Also, hosting allows one to show off one’s cute little tables and lamps and Cheep deals.
Then (b) we love cooking. Because preparing food taps you into, with scent and taste and process and touch, the epic legacy of human invention. When it’s man or woman vs. random available ingredient, we make magic of every variety. The colors. The smells. Chemistry. Imagination. It’s f*cking fun to do. And cheap, cheap, Cheep! And serving delicious homemade food to friends and family gives you an excuse to offer people you love a treat and a reason to hang out for 3 to 5 hours without having to go to a bar or a restaurant and spends tons of $$$.
Our table is tiny, and our kitchen space matches. So for a more formal “dining room,” we pivot our couch against the wall and move one chair. Instantly, our open floor space doubles. Our friend Rick gave us a large wood-topped folding table. So we set that up in the living room, and cover it with a roll of brown packing paper that we then tape in place. The packing paper never fails to look elegant yet casual. You can also write place setting names in some fancy-dancy script on the paper if the Martha mood strikes. Best of all, serious cheap. Cheep!
I bought the plates from Atomic Treasures, specifically a booth they had at The Linen Building Sunday market. I picked up one of these (real!) silver- and gold-plated china plates, one of a set of 32, from the stand of the eclectic flea market-type store. I was drawn to the plates because they match the gold and retro theme of my life. One of the owners happened to see this telltale shopping gesture. I think she was tired of lugging these plates from her warehouse to the market to the store. So she said, “You can have those for $25.” Which is frankly ridiculous. The sticker price was $150. A $125 savings. Only $0.78 a plate. I know a Cheep moment when I see one one, and I rejoice.
The glasses are recycled wine bottles from a sustainability-focused non-profit in Boise called Sustainable Futures. Our friends Nikki and Michael were married this summer. During the planning, the groom, a videographer, made a “I’ll film your organization if you give me 250 glasses” trade with the owner. Then, Dan played at the wedding, and I decorated the dinner tents. In return they gave us 32 glasses, both tall and small. A bottled beer perfectly fills the smaller size, for example. They retail at $5 a piece, but were free for all, and I think a true masterpiece of green barter Cheepness.
The linens are from the Idaho Youth Ranch (Orchard). It took me forever to find cheap cloth napkins. I thought, at $1.25 each, these were overpriced for a thrift store, but they looked brand new and modern and cute cute cute so then I thought, “what the hell.” The small embroidered runner ($0.75) with the vase on top was from the same visit to the Idaho Youth Ranch.
The Japanese-style flower arranging vase with the roses is a from a local Caldwell, Idaho, artist who sells these at a booth at places like the Sawtooth Salmon Festival and Capital City Public Market. I think it was $20 or $30, but I like paying full price for the work of local artisans. And it is stunning.
The roses are from CostCo. With 2 dozen for $15.99, you can divide into all your main rooms, the entryway (the studio in our house), the kitchen table, the dining room table and the bathroom. The whole house smells like and blooms with roses for a week or two. How beautiful is that?
Lastly, our menu board. I bought this for $5 at The Flying M gift shop. Way to make a perfectly fugly fridge fabulous. We write our menu on this as soon as we have it set. Staring at it helps us think of all the steps we’ll need to do and the ingredients we’ll need. Then, it’s really fun for your guests to be able to anticipate what’s coming.
Tomorrow…the food behind that menu…