California Dreamin'

A Summer Solstice Tablescape

A Summer Solstice dinner party in LA was one of the highlights of my summer. What better day to have a dinner party than the longest day of the year and the first day of summer? It was a great night at my daughter and son-in-law’s  home, with great food, great cocktails and some very special people! And something very special happened....

The full “Strawberry Moon” and the Summer Solstice occurred on the same day, an event that has not coincided in 70 years, and won’t for another 46! This stunning celestial performance lit up the skies around the world with a breathtakingly beautiful, but rare, amber-pink  “Strawberry Moon” named by native tribes as the best time to harvest fruit, especially strawberries!

My contribution to the evening was to design the tablescape, which I already knew would be something very “Californian”, since as a former Los Angeles resident myself, conjuring up California vibes was easy.

California VIBES (a neighbor’s topiary)

Decades later the memories & visuals are still vivid in my mind; the sound of the ocean waves crashing against the shore, the exquisite Pacific sunsets, the cool, gentle evening breezes, the huge mountains kissing the ocean, the beautiful desert-like indigenous trees and shrubs and the wonderfully dizzying drives up and down the rustic canyons and Hollywood Hills. I wanted to incorporate these senses by using “earthy” elements with natural tones and interesting textures.

Juliska Pewter Stoneware

We had so much fun creating the table setting with many of the beautiful things they received as wedding gifts.  Their Juliska Pewter Stoneware, which is simply, rich and beautiful to look at, was the dinnerware of choice. Its stunning charcoal color mimics pewter, but its weight and feel tells you its stoneware. The round plates reminded me of planets orbiting the solar system. This selection began the tablescape!

I went on a bit of a scavenger hunt around their house to “gather my nuts” and found some interesting and meaningful things to enhance our theme. Their natural wood dining table with benches served as the perfect backdrop, both in color and texture and provided the perfect canvas on which to place the Juliska without a cloth or a placemat. I loved the juxtaposition of wood and stone. 

Table and sheepskin throw on bench

I fell in love with the sheepskin throw our daughter was gifted with for being part of a friend’s “Bride Tribe”. We used them on the benches for guests to luxuriate in with a quintessential dose of texture and feel!  

We gathered some of their mercury votives and candle holders, which they love and which they had in huge quantities at their wedding! Candlelight is everything to me no matter where I am.

They had the perfect Agate Geode slices for coasters in shades of grey and beige (greige), to place directly on the table in place of a cocktail napkin, and to add yet another interesting texture; a great perch for guests to place their Mason jar filled with cucumber water. I really loved the pairing of the Agate with the pewter stoneware.

A gathering of“earthy” elements with natural tones and interesting textures.

The essential greenery was none other than a variety of succulents from the California desert. I love to use indigenous greenery, wherever I am.  The variety and color choices were incredible.  They worked beautifully with the natural colors in the place setting. We planted them in elongated grey/green painted terra cotta planters, bringing in the adobe feel of some California towns.  We used one for every two place settings. 

Pewter, Agate, Stoneware, Mercury AND succulents

The next day, they became welcomed additions to their collection on their outdoor terrace. They continue to reap joy from them, as succulents will pretty much  last forever!

P.S. The dinner was a simple Liguini ala vongle with “pewter” clam shells and yellow pasta to mimic the solar sysytem!  And you can guess that the dessert was none other than… strawberry shortcake!