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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Friendship Lunch

Thursday, February 20, 2014


In appreciation of friends who helped with the 
Academic Decathlon contest in January, 
I hosted a small 
Friendship Lunch. 

 Preparations took place over several days with many details 
to create an ambiance of friendship. 
Since Valentine's Day was the Friday before the lunch, 
hearts and flowers were a perfect way to say, 

What makes a lunch special? 
Makes friends feel special? 


Table Setting with Flowers 
Individual Plants as Small Gifts 
Fabric Tablecloth and Napkins 
Sterling Silver Flatware 
Printed Friendship Prose 
Room Decor 
Heart-Shaped Homemade Individual Quiches 
Heart-Shaped Butter Pats 
Dessert Served on Cake Stands 

A key to tying together all the parts of a lunch is 
to repeat design patterns and motifs. 
People often do not know why they 
enjoy a setting, 
but chances are the reason is 
continuity derived via a theme. 
Disjointed images are unsettling to the mind, 
causing it to "jump around," 
but repeated patterns with variations 
create harmony,  
allowing the mind to connect the images 
and to form an overall soothing setting. 

White snapdragons tied with a wired ribbon 
and standing with their feet in a bed of clear glass hearts 
were the centerpiece for the simply set table. 
By tying the flowers with the ribbon, 
the arrangement looks fuller than 
one with the flowers freely leaning in the vase. 

The clear glass hearts in the base of the vase help set the tone as a friendship lunch 
and help anchor the flowers so they do not slide around.... 
a loose "frog" that helps support the flower stems. 

An inexpensive gift for each guest is a small herb bedding plant. 
Although winter is still raging, nurseries and hardware stores 
begin offering small plants in our area in February. 
Later the plants will be larger and more costly. 

By repotting the herb into a small clay pot, 
the lowly mint plant adopts an air of élan. 
Easy to buy in advance, repot, and set aside... 
Just be careful the plants do not dry out. 
To my dismay, that is exactly what happened to me 
a couple of days before the party. 
Placing them in a large oval baking dish, 
I was able to soak them in water and revive them. 

Remember to include plant care directions that come with the plants. 

How to connect the small gift to the party? 

A small heart cookie cutter was just the right size 
for tracing a heart on white watercolor paper, 
one of my favorite papers to use for any project.  
The texture and thickness of watercolor paper 
add depth, and the paper is another way to create élan once again. 
Decorative-edged scissors give the hearts yet another layer of élan.

Why white? 
Several reasons... 
The snapdragons are white, the dishes are white, 
the tablecloth and napkins are white, and 
Martha Stewart makes 
the cutest little white sticker hearts 
that added a more defined heart shape to the card. 

The watercolor paper allows other colors to be used 
by watercoloring the background whatever hue matches the theme. 
Other sticker shapes can be used. 

Individual mint plants at each place setting dress the table 
and provide a heavenly mint fragrance. 
Since the lunch was served buffet style, the plants 
keep the table from looking bare. 

For lunches served family style, the plants grouped 
in a clear baking dish could be set on a side table 
within view to enjoy and within easy reach to 
present to guests as they leave. 

A small paper coaster protects the tablecloth while looking pretty. 

Printed on wausauPAPER metallics, 
each place setting has my favorite quote about friendship. 

Four quotes fit onto one 8.5"x11" sheet. 
The specialty paper is for inkjet, laser, and copier machines 
and comes in more than one metallic finish. 
Champagne pearl is shown, 
and it has a soft shimmery texture.  
Office Depot carries it in my neighborhood. 

White plates, white fabric napkins, and sterling flatware 
complement the white snapdragons and mint plants, 
recede into the background, and
allow the flowers and plants to be the main attractions on the table. 

Small individual-sized preserved boxwood heart topiaries 
are near the buffet served on the kitchen island. 

The shelf holds hand-thrown pottery with vine designs in soft colors. 

Under an etched-glass cloche, the heart topiary is in a miniature clay pot, 
repeating the clay pots of the mint plants. 

A large preserved boxwood heart topiary and a vase of hyacinths 
preside over the dessert table in the kitchen. 

Pear tartes from France made dessert quick and easy. 
Trader Joe's stocks these ready-to-eat tartes from France. 
Just thaw for about 30 minutes to an hour. 

Such an easy dessert gave more time for making 
homemade bacon and onion quiches 
in a baking dish with six individual wells. 
Since the recipe can be made up to three days in advance, 
multiple batches of individual quiches can be made, 
stored in casserole dishes in the refrigerator, 
and reheated in the oven the morning of the party.

Also, an easy dessert allowed time for cutting individual 
heart-shaped butter pats using a pastry cutter. 

Thank you to all my wonderful friends, 
both in the real world and the virtual world.  
My life is much richer because of you. 
Information about sources is included 
for my readers, and I did not receive any 
compensation of any kind for my information. 
I like to know these kinds of things so 
I know where to find items, and 
think others do, too.