I am not Martha Stewart. Nor do I want to be. Because people would hate me. I really like having friends who like me, and I especially like having daughters who aren’t doing a TV show making fun of me. So I’m totally okay with not being a wannabe Martha Stewart.

She’s been in the news lately because of her hateful comments towards bloggers – regarding our non-professionalism in the kitchen – even though it doesn’t seem that Ms. Stewart herself attended cooking school of any kind. So that’s a bit hypocritical of her. Many of us are self-taught, including you, Ms. Stewart.

And, let’s face a major biographical fact – this woman has been to prison. I haven’t.

But with all that being said, Ms. Stewart must be revered to some extent, at least I feel this way, for the fact that she really has good taste. She has fabulous resources, of course we would all as well if we were zillionaires, and is extremely creative and crafty.

I’m not sure if Ms. Stewart herself coined the term “tablescape,” however it’s become a commonplace appellation for the design of the party table. And if you look at her magazines or her entertaining books, Ms. Stewart is very talented at designing tablescapes. Or maybe her people are. I’m not sure.

I’m really envious of anyone who is creative in this way. Just look at Pinterest and you’ll know what I mean, just in case you’re one of the millions who hasn’t looked at Pinterest.

So I had a Christmas party a few days before Christmas in 2013. Normally I would have put clipped poinsettias and placed them in three or five vases along the middle of the buffet table and called it done. I probably would have used a green tablecloth, because that’s festive. My dining room is painted red, so the red and green would make things really festive, right? You can tell by my blog that I love colors, but I especially love red and green.

However, I have been saving this Pinterest pin on my Christmas “board” forever. Here it is:

This photo comes from this blog. The photo was from a wedding sit-down dinner; the white candles really add the wedding “feel” of the celebration. Beautiful.

So many years ago, because of this photographic inspiration, I forced myself to drink 13 bottles of Clean Slate Riesling, because I thought the bottles would be perfect for a buffet table. I didn’t know when I’d use them, I just knew I would…some day.

They’re fairly clear bottles – not aqua, and not dark green. Then I removed the labels, washed the bottles, and stored them in our basement. Until recently.

I decided to use the wine bottle-candle idea for my Christmas party! I really got excited, because for once I wanted to try my hand at a creative tablescape. Something beyond red and green.

I decided to go the non-color route, and started gathering goodies. More in natural tones, and a lot about nature. And then, it all just fell into place.

I found these beautiful carved wooden birds at my local florist shop.


Aren’t they really adorable?

I purchased the dried clove-studded oranges and lemons, and included some pinecones my husband scavenged on a walk with the dogs.


I then found some faux cherries, added faux walnuts, and threw in some raw cranberries for a little more color, at the last minute, of course.


Right after the food was placed on the table, my husband lit the candles, and it all came to life.


Since this is a cooking blog, I will tell you what I served for my Christmas party:

Smoked Scottish salmon with pumpernickel triangles
Cranberry Wensleydale and Cambazola with assorted crackers
Maple Pecan Baked brie
Pâté de foie and onion confit with cranberries, served with baguette slices
Roasted beef tenderloin sandwiches with apple-butter mustard
plus a variety of sweets, including Sugarplums, which were a huge hit

This may not be your style, but I am very proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone a bit and trying my hand at holiday creativity. I was very pleased at the subdued, natural look of the goodies strewn along the center of the table, and candle light just can’t be beat.

Happy New Year to all of you!

69 thoughts on “Tablescape

  1. Hmmm, must look up what Ms. Stewart had to say about bloggers maybe it was revenge for the less than positive reviews of her photo’s she takes of her food when she eats in restaurants. Honestly they are bad. That said I have respect for the woman and her accomplishments. Your “tablescape” is gorgeous, I love the clear bottles with candles and those little birds are beautiful. You set a lovely table, The bottles are really nice, crystal clear!

    • Clean Slate Riesling! from $10. to $13. per bottle. Start drinking now, and you, too, can have a pretty tablescape!
      I think her comments came before… she was criticizing bloggers for not really knowing how to cook.

  2. I wouldn’t mind to sit down your festival table, just… wonderful – and plentiful with candles and food that apple to my taste buds too – not fond of traditional Christmas food.. have been cooking and eating it too often through my working years.

  3. I lack all genes associated with tablescaping.. ;-) or flower arrangement, or anything related to home decor. I just don’t have what it takes. It is interesting in a strange sort of way, because I am very focused on the way I dress, from shoes to accessories such as earrings. But maybe those are completely different sets of genes, what do I know? ;-)

    Loved your table, I think it was worth all the wine you were forced to drink ;-)

  4. “Tablescape” is a wonderful word that I haven’t heard before! Yours is really beautiful and I absolutely love the way you used the pine cones, cherries, nuts and berries. Great candlelighting too. Thanks for sharing these photos with us, Mimi.

    • Gosh, I really thought I was behind the bandwagon on this one! But it’s not really something I’ve cared about before. And honestly, people shouldn’t come to your house for the sole sake of checking out your tablescape! But it was fun to do!

  5. Oh those ‘professional’ food writers that want to put us bloggers down … fortunately there are people out there starting to realise some of us know what we’re writing about!! Mimi your Christmas table looks wonderful!! I never go to much trouble with table laying; my creativity such as it is stays in the kitchen or for writing … but sometimes it’s nice to make an effort with how things look and your party table and food look fabulous! I’m really, really impressed. New year’s resolution #1 to self – make more effort with the table laying :) Happy new year to you!!!! x

  6. I am in love with your tablescape! Absolutely beautiful ambiance. Loved that you played off the “nature” theme and wish I had some of those adorable white carved birds! Happy New Year!

    • Thanks so much! I think I should actually try and get some more of those birds – they were so cute!!! We live out in the country, so the nature theme happened naturally… no pun intended.

  7. The table looks stunning, you’ve inspired me for sure!!! No one in our house drinks wine though…maybe I need to raid my neighbour’s glass recycling boxes!!! 😉

  8. Very impressive creations there. Re Martha Stewart – I love the world of instant, 24 hour rolling news and media – people like her can never let their guard down, not for a moment – and recently she posted some instagram type photos of some culinary creations which looked truely awful – like pigswill – methinks the brand way outstrips the ability for that person.

    • M S is quite the brand, isn’t she?!!! She has done some good things, but she still has such fevered followers – even after going to jail?!!! Only in America, I guess!

  9. To hell with Martha! I don’t know why Americans are obsessed with her boring country taste. It’s time to move on. There are a many other “tablescapers” who do a better job, and you should be on this list.
    I must admit, I am smitten by your entries. You keep them very original and interesting.

    • Mo, you are so thoughtful I really take your comments as such compliments, coming from a chef.
      I truly don’t know why Martha Stewart has been put on such a high pedestal, but I have to admit that she did turn “home making” into something other than the drudgery women used to think it to be. She has done some good things.

    • Well, it was a Christmas party! Otherwise I’m not very la dee da myself. And I’ve gotten much better at not planning everything. It’s taken a while. But I happen to be partial to Christmas and christmas parties! Happy New Year to y’all!

    • I wouldn’t do it for just any party. I just happen to love Christmas, and I happen to love all of my friends, and almost all of them made it to the party. There were a couple sick, and a couple who got a bit scared off of impending icy roads. And we live in the country. I’m always honored when my friends come through for me. I don’t really have a family, but my friends have always been there. We’ve lived in the same town for 25 years now and it’s lovely having these same friendships!

  10. Mimi, You never fail to impress me – or make me smile. I loved this post. Your lovely commentary; the empty riesling bottles; all that good chese. Martha has nothing on you – except for her experience in the slammer. And who wants that on their resumé? Best wishes – Shanna

  11. Your table is far more thought out than the one on Pinterest – the guests wouldn’t be able to see each other! Yours works so much better as people are helping themselves (don’t want to use the term buffet on your blog!). Isn’t styling fun? I used to do three and then four windows in Spitafields Market for the same company. Every month! These days I keep things low-key.

    • Window dressing sounds like a great job. I couldn’t do it, but I’d love to! Thank you for the compliment. And I agree – the wine bottles wouldn’t work at all for a sit down dinner!!!

  12. Wow, your tablescape is so wonderful and elegant. I’ve put some flowers into a wine bottle, the green Riesling one, my favorite, but I’ve never thought of putting candles. It’s a great idea. I, being one of bloggers, think that passion, love, zeal for something including cooking are much more important elements than just professionalism. I would like to say that your passion and love for food and cooking have already made you so professional.

  13. Oh Mimi, what fun! I loved the way you styled/tablescaped your dinner and I am sure your guests did too. My mother has always been the one for dressing up the table and I have to say that a well laid table does make the dinner more special. I love the idea of the Riesling bottles … all the more reason to drink Riesling! Happy New Year!

  14. Oh I love your table styling! I particularly like the wine bottle idea and think your personal touches have a wonderful Christmassy touch. :-)

  15. Let me just say that if Martha Stewart was you…. then we’d all like her. <3

    Non-professionalism? Now that's just offensive. I take those nasty comments as jealousy, or insecurity. It's highly probable that she doesn't like the fact that there are people who are creative, but with her money (insider trading money?), she is able to hold the title for those who can't see her for what she really is. A dark and lonely soul.

    Like you, I would never be a Martha Stewart wannabe.

    Now Mimi… I cannot see your photos!! For some reason, they're not coming up on my computer. Just little question marks. It makes me sad, because I know that it's absolutely beautiful. I'm dying to see your birds, because I'm a bird girl. Love them. I have them tucked throughout my house. Not parrots or exotic birds, but little chickadees..

    I'll keep coming back to this to see if I can get to the photos.

  16. I actually find Martha hilarious and desperately miss her Sirius radio station which gave me many hours of amusement. Plus, her (her employees’ … whomever’s…) recipes are generally quite good. Not sure about the derivation of “tablescaping.” Sadly, the first I ever heard of the word from was Sandra Lee, about whom the less said the better. ;) Regardless, you set a lovely table and I’m sure it was a great party.

    • OMG she had a sirius show? That must have been interesting.
      Not sure about tablescaping either. I have a David Rosengarten book from 2005 that talks about Table Dressing – maybe I was wrong to assume it was M.S.
      Oh, S. L., I guess she has her place in the world, but you’re right.. the less said, the better.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and the nice compliment!

  17. P.S. Your jail comment cracked me up! Spot on.
    Your ‘tablescape’ looks out of the world, I love the bird, so adorable. I’m actually one those people who haven’t looked at the Pinterest pictures so I’m glad you shared this!

    • Well, there’s no “rule” that you have to follow Pinterest. I think I’ve only added photos on three different occasions! But some are pretty extraordinary!

  18. Martha Stewart! Who cares! I love your comment about not having two daughters who are making fun of you on reality TV. I have had a smile on my face ever since reading that. Your christmas table is stunning and i’m jealous I didn’t get to see it in real life. I love the fairytale effect of the candles and the wooden birds. You have a real eye for design. The empty wine bottles as candle holders is genius!

    • The candles in the bottles were not an original idea, but there’s really nothing quite like candle light. And for a buffet table it worked quite nicely. I thought about putting twigs in some of the bottles, but I could just imagine everything catching on fire…
      My dear Emma, if you had been in the US before Christmas, you certainly would have been at my Christmas party!

  19. This is so lovely – thanks for sharing. I, too, have been saving nice-looking bottles and using them as candles holders. Last year I held an outdoor party and used the ‘bottle candle holders’. They were a big hit! And, talk about WOW – that is SOME meal you served. One last quick thing – there’s a reason not everyone likes Martha Stewart… but, as you said, she does have good taste!!!!

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