Celebrating Valentine’s Day, Part 3

As I begin this post, it is late in the wee hours of Saturday morning, several hours after our glorious Valentine’s Day party.  The house is currently clean and silent, with both of my gents passed out upstairs.  The dishwasher is whirring happily; the TV is quietly playing Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives; I have a fluffy sleeping kitty against my legs; and a full glass of fizzy water is condensating at my side.  Life is good!  I love that day or so after a great party, the house feels cleaner than usual, the fridge is stuffed with yummy treats (like heart-shaped bacon!), and all is right with the world.

The truth is, I like pretty much every part of a party.  I love the planning and pondering stage of almost anything creative, and parties are no exception.  I like picking themes, designing invitations, and creating tablescapes. I especially love party food.  Did you ever see the movie “Mermaids?”  I was about the age of the Winona Ryder character when that came out, but I remember being a big fan of Cher in that film, not only because of her FAB costumes and hair, but because she only cooked appetizers.  As a young lady, I thought that was a pretty clever hook, like Laverne’s “L” or Mr T pitying the fool.  Can you think of a bite-sized party nosh that isn’t just utterly delicious?  The whole point of the thing is to be a decadent, savory mouthful.  Mmm….  Hors d’oeuvres?  Yes, please!

But I like it when the party is over, too.  I always push myself, pre-party, to complete things on my household to-do list.  Not only the usual housekeeping scrubbing and sweeping, but also the deeper cleaning (washing the globes on your light fixtures), the hanging of a few more pictures, the extra stuff you aren’t totally compelled to throw together on a Tuesday.  So after the party, even if your dishes are still dirty and your the recycling needs to be taken out, there are lingering improvements in your home, unbesmirched by partygoers and thumping music.  I love that.

Valentinesey Wall Art

Valentinesey Wall Art

This party was no exception to that rule, but the fact that we’re new to this home means there is much more to do than really can be done in several weeks for the execution of a party.  It also means that you can sort of ‘wing it’ in ways you wouldn’t normally do things either…  For example, for this party, we moved our dinette tables into the living room, and made the actual dining room into a bar.  We could do this because we have yet to acquire a couch or rug for that living room, so there was no real furniture to deal with…  just my awesome boomerang coffee table.  I also went around the house and rounded up any wall art that was remotely Valentinesey, and played a little game of can-we-arrange-these-five-paintings-on-the-nails-the-last-renters-left, and I would like to say, NAILED IT!   I went on to the bonus round!  Lantern hanging!  That room has no overhead lighting fixture (making it extremely difficult to take pics at the actual nighttime party) so I created the feel of chandeliers using a trio of paper lanterns over each table.  I also made the lanterns a wee bit fancier by looping a plastic heart ornament over the wire across the bottom– so easy, and it feels custom!

Trio Of Lanterns

Trio Of Lanterns

I never did find the two vintage rose tablecloths I own, I know they must be in the garage somewhere, its just the finding the where seems to be the issue, too many places to look… but anyway, I had to come up with something, and the few table cloths I *had* found– autumn leaves, Christmas bells– were not going to cut it for this occasion.  Instead I pulled from my stash some red and white diagonal striped wrapping paper and wrapped the tables, taping on the underside.  This was a pretty awesome idea, except that after I got done I wished I had chosen another paper, this one made it look a little bit like a TGIFriday’s.  Ah well, next time.  I was too crunched on time to go back!

The Place Settings At the Adult Table

The Place Settings At the Adult Table

As for our place settings, I had been really, truly stressing over the plate situation.  I hate to tell on myself here, but the only dishes I had in regular rotation are a stack of aqua melamine– the plates the kids used– and some Corelle with holly around the rim.  Eek, how embarrassing.  I briefly considered collecting a stack from the thrift store, but my options were too varied and the thought of driving from store to store looking for similar plates made me sweat a little.  Instead I opted for a stack of matching white glazed porcelain from the dollar store.  They’re really pretty nice, I’m so happy I bought them.  I want to go and get at least four more in the next few days, as well as some of the matchy bowls and dessert plates, might as well.  I need to pack away that Christmas crap, and I can obviously dress up a table in other ways when I need to!  Can it get more basic than modern, clean, glazed, white?

While I was at the Dollar Tree picking up my plates, I spotted these clear Libbey glass heart-shaped dishes.  They were actually over in the candle stuff, but because they are Libbey I feel pretty confident that they would be safe to eat off of… so much of my glassware collection was made by that stellar company, and I can’t imagine that they would change the quality of the glass for the application.  Especially since the weight of them is really hefty and pleasant, and they don’t have any rough areas or anything.  These hearts were perfect for our salad course, and I’m sure in the future I’ll be building strawberry trifles and layering banana puddings and the like in them.  In fact, they also had stars that are in the same Libbey pressed glass, I am seriously considering going back and get them for Independence Day celebrations and space-themed parties….  Ooh, fun!  (Can’t you picture a star-shaped dish of ‘dirt’ pudding with plastic glow aliens and wee robots wedged in it?  Cute!)

The dollar store also had the 4″ and larger red and light pink glitter hearts, which I used like the world’s largest confetti.  I also had from my crafty stash– funny that I can find this stuff but not a simple tablecloth– a pack of hot pink, glittered die-cuts that were ‘romance themed’ that I also scattered on the tables.  This meant that there were hearts, as well as swirly flourishes and the occasional cupid silhouette.  The gingham and strawberry cloth napkins that we adults used were the everyday-use napkins from our old place, and the kids used some nice paper ones (teal with dots– ’cause that’s how I roll) left over from Fox’s birthday celebration.  I also had available for use at the grown-up table a red salt and pepper shaker set that my parents received as a wedding present in 1973.  I loved having a little something representative of them and their relationship at the table, especially since they are the ones that kick-started this version of Valentine’s celebrating we were participating in.  Incidentally, I never saw the shakers touched, and as the chef that was an extremely lovely compliment, that all four courses were adequately seasoned.

As for glassware, both tables had a different vintage printed one for their water glass (in red or pink tones), as well as a dish-style champagne glass (plastic pop-on stems for the kiddos, my antique etched rose ones for the growns), and a milk glass, teacup-style coffee cup at each adult setting.  Lastly, everyone has a place card and a favor of some sort.  I did the place cards because it would end all quibbling over who-sits-next-to-who at the kiddo table, and so I could control where I sat, to be able to best access the kitchen.  I made adorable little love robot cups of candies and treats for the three littles, and everyone– myself included!– received a coupon for a free Krispy Kreme doughnut of their choice.  (And I will choose jam filled, even though their classic glazed are a veryvery close second.  Or third, if you’re counting the jam varieties separately.  Anyway– free doughnut!)

The Stuff For the Kids' Place Settings

The Stuff For the Kids’ Place Settings

The kid’s table didn’t get anything new other than plastic champagne glasses, so that they could participate in cocktail hour with ginger ale (and without me sweating my vintage swankies).  I did give them real glassware for their water glasses– but I was sneaky about it, I only used glasses I had duplicates of… just in case there was a problem I wouldn’t be heartbroken.

Several hours before the party, seeing his place setting, and the polka-dotted lanterns over his table, Fox exclaimed, “Moooom!  I don’t think blue is a Valentine’s color!”

I said, “Well, it’s my party, and I’ll try if I want to,” which meant nothing to him but amused the Hades out of me.  I have never really liked the addition of purple that seems to be common in the modern Valentine’s day decor.  The purple with the pink makes it too teenaged girl-looking to me.  But the aqua, ah, the aqua is fresh with that red and pink, amirite?  So I forged ahead without the blessing of the six year old party expert.  (As he pointed out– he HAD been to one earlier that day, at school.)

In the end, I only spent money on the food and the dishes, and the dishes are an actual step up from what we’ve been using.  Kinda like a little Valentine’s day present to me!  I served a menu of four totally decadent– and a little difficult– courses, and chilled champagne. The overall appearance of our sweet and special party was enough to emit squeals of glee from the three female guests, so I think my choice of aqua accents passed.  I got to wear my red crinoline, leggings, a cute cami with red and pink roses on it, and a knit cardi.  Fun!  Both Miss Scarlette and I spent time twirling in our skirts on the hardwood floors….

I’m going to do one more post on the topic tomorrow, where I’ll talk about the food I served and I’ll share a few recipes!  How did you celebrate this lovely holiday?  I hope it was with someone you admire!


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