Sunday, September 13, 2009

Twelve for Dinner... What to do?

Twelve for dinner... it must be last minute cooking...what to do? My table seats 8...need 4 more seats...dining room is too small...what to do? Everyone bringing a to set it up...what to do? Tablesetting...simple. What to do?

These were my chaotic thoughts this past week. We were the hosts for our monthly small group dinner and discussion. (We're discussing Crazy Love by Frances Chen...interesting perspective.) Twelve adults were coming for dinner and I had a lot of organizing to do.

The first question...what to serve? Hmmmm...Out come my favorite cookbooks... The Gasparilla Cookbook and Clarita's Cocina. (both local to Tampa). I decided to prepare a dish from my childhood... Pollo Cacerola (Chicken Casserole). Most Sundays, after church, my dad would take the family to a Spanish cafeteria in Ybor City, the Latin area of Tampa, FL. To my young eyes, Mercedes was a beautiful place ...not much to see on the outside, but inside there were Moraccan tiles, murals of the Spanish countryside, gorgeous antiques from Spain. The decor always made my childish fantasies soar...I was a Spanish senorita with a black lace mantilla draped over my long blonde hair... OK, enough about that!
My favorite dish, Pollo Caserola, was baked chicken with little round potatoes, diced ham, onions, garlic, and petit pois. (It had chopped chicken liver, too, but I never ate that!!!) The server, Henri, always insisted that I order my meal in Spanish...pollo caserola y pappas fritas. Even now, as I write this, I can smell the redolent spices of Mercedes. ( I was so sad that this was another memory I could not share with my kids...the restaurant burned down long before they were born.) The main course is to call the others and arrange for them to bring the rest of the menu... black beans, yellow rice, crusty bread, preferably Cuban bread, and a salad, plus dessert.

Next question... Where to seat 12 people? My dining room is one of those standard-sized rooms, designed for a 6- 8 person table. Well...time to flip the rooms. Our little used living room is BIG...
So, I moved the furniture around, added books to the built-ins, and made the dining room into a cozy sitting area....and the living room is now my dining room. I like this so much more that I am shopping for a BIG table to use in this space... For now I'll use the table for a card table for 4. It works!

How to serve? Buffet style works best. We have a long counter in the kitchen...perfect for a buffet. Set up three, cold drinks, coffee bar. Three locations. It works!

Now for the fun! The tablescape....
With this many people, I decided to keep it very and white, basic flatware, and a simple centerpiece of small vases with 1 flower, each and flat tealight candles. Done!
At the last minute. we had a cancellation...only 6 at the main table...This view is looking toward the front can see the new "sitting room" to the upper right.

Gerber Daisies are the perfect single flower arrangement. The vases are a mixture of tiny vases from Crate and Barrel and spice jars from Pier 1 imports. The pale green tealight holders are from Crate and Barrel...only $.95!

The napkins were recently purchased at Home Goods. The tablecloth is a length of upholstery fabric from JoAnns. (I should have ironed the folds out, but I was too tired...Hey, it was a casual night with friends! ) I like using fabric because there are so many more choices in patterns and colors. Sometimes, I finish the edges, sometimes I don't. The woven chargers are from WalMart. They look just like the more expensive chargers I have found in other home stores...and MUCH less money! The white plates (Pfaltzgraft) are some I have had for 20+ years. The flatware is Reed and Barton stainless. The glassware is Libby (don't know the pattern) purchased at Target.The card table was also dressed with upholstery fabric. The chargers were too big for the table, so I used one in the center. The vase was on the clearance rack at TJ Maxx for only $3. The small apples were rescued from a branch found in the trash at JoAnn's. The red tealight holders are from Crate and Barrel.

The tables were pretty...and simple! The food was delicious. The conversation was lively. Wish you could have joined us... Maybe next time!

Crazy Love photo:
Senorita Photo on Flickr: Jacqueline Roberts (artist)

Be sure to stop by Susan's at Between Naps on the Porch for a list of all the fabulous table designs. It's always inspiring!


Deanna said...

Love the pretty and cheery touch of the gerber daisies!
Very nice.
May you have a blessed day,

ellen b said...

I really like those napkins! Good idea to add those daisies :0)

Signing Out said...

I can't believe you had to move furniture, but you made it all work! It's beautiful!


Deanna said...

Hi Jane,
Thank you for leaving a sweet message on my blog about the Blessings Poem.
Do you by chance know who wrote this?

A few years ago, I went to an open house where this poem was copied, but it didn't have the author's name printed on it.
Does your's? If it does would you mind emailing it to me. Appreciate this. Thank you.

Thank you for visiting my blog and following!
Hope to hear from you.

Anonymous said...

If you are looking for Small Dining Room log on to

Shellbelle said...

This reminded me of the first Thanksgiving I had in my first home, thirty-seven years ago. My husband had seven siblings (several of whom were married) and I had two. With parents, siblings and spouses we had about twenty, plus five toddlers. Our dining "room" was actually an alcove in the living room and definitely not big enough for this crowd!

We emptied our bedroom and moved in the ping pong table, draped it with fabric and borrowed chairs. Between the alcove and our "new" dining room, everyone had a seat and a great meal!

Your table looks so inviting and I love Gerber daisies.

BTW, are you going to 1905 Day at the Columbia this weekend? I'm not going to the one in Ybor, we go to the one at St. Pete Pier every year. Looking forward to the sangria!

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hi Jane
Well you are certainly more ambitious than me taking on 12 dinner guest!! [although I do have a funny story about the last time i tried that].
Well I think it was very inventive of you to change the rooms around to suit your needs. Nothing like a little creative thinking. Thanks for popping over my way... i've follwed you now so I can keep an eye on your ambitious endeavours. Have a great week. Julie

Mid-Atlantic Martha said...

What a great tablescape -- I will have to check out JoAnns next time I'm looking for special table linens Thanks for your inspiration.

susan said...

Jane--You are busy! I think single Gerbera daisies are one of my favorite centerpieces. I love your little bud vases! Everything looks great and the menu sounds divine. Is this a supper club?--I miss ours. We disbanded--people kept getting divorced :)

Brenda Pruitt said...

I would not have that much room to seat so many. But you did a terrific job of it! (Not to mention how nervous the event would make me!)

Rettabug said...

Oh pulled this off with panache! I'd have been a basket case with 12 people to seat & feed. I'm envious of your book/dinner club though. We had a Lansbrook Ladies Book Club in Venice, FL that I started 14 yrs ago & it is still going strong. We never did it up this nice, though.
I've been to Ybor City & would love it if you'd share your recipe for the "Pollo Cacerola" sometime. I'm always on the hunt for make-ahead recipes that hold well when I entertain.

Bill said...

Hi Jane,
What a creative solution! I see lots of large-scale dinner parties in your future! Your tables look fresh, charming, and cheerful! Nicely done.

I've had some of those same white dishes for 34 years! Several have been broken, but the survivors held up well. Food always looks appealing on a simple white dish, doesn't it?

Bye for now,

LillyB said...

Hey sister! I needed your post today. On the 26th I am hosting 6 couples from my Sunday School. I hadnt thought that far ahead about where they would sit. I think I am borrowing a long table from the church and 12 chairs. I wish I could set up outside for eating and just socialiZe inside but here in Florida the rain is so unpredictable LOL. Love your set up! I do have enough white dishs for everyone. Pray for me!!
have a great evening!
Love Lilly

Yellow Rose Arbor said...

I really like the color scheme, the black gingham table cover with those pretty napkins, and the bright colored gerber daisies are sooo pretty!


nannykim at spindle cottage said...

Very nice--so you are keeping the rooms switched--coooool! you need to show us the other room!

Karen at Nittany Inspirations said...

Everything turned out perfect. I like the black linen and the gold daisies. We had a clambake last month with 20. We ate outdoors. I don't know what I would have done if it would have rained.

nannykim said...

Hey--it is me again--just wanted to tell you you should post your change--and show pics of your "new" dining room and "new living" room on Met. Monday! nannykim from spindle cottage

Ceekay-THINKIN of HOME said...

Thanks so much for visiting me. It is so difficult when trying to seat more people than the table fits! Been there. Love the simplicity of your table and the little votives were perfect!!

Unknown said...

Thanks for your advise and I'll have to search for that book.

Perfect touch to put one flower in each vase :)

Moore Minutes said...

Wow! That sounds like a busy event to plan for in your home sweet home. :) You did a lovely job with the table. And I would love to try that chicken!

Anonymous said...

We have a neighbor who also flipped the dining and living rooms. Her dining room now has the longest, most beautiful table! That was a great idea, and I love the table setting. The apples in the vase will be a stolen idea..I love it! The meal sound absolutely delicious.

Eileen said...

You did a great job! I especially loved the centerpiece and the single flowers, tiny vases, and tealights.
A very pretty table!
It all looks so beautiful and sounds so delicious!
All the best,

Jessica said...

Love this~ everything looks so great! I too used fabric for a can have so much variety that way. :)

Moore Minutes said...

Sorry for leaving another comment BUT I had to tell you that your idea you did with you glasses on the shelf in home schooling is so unique and creative!! I love it! :D Thank you so much for sharing. That is so good that you home schooled. I was home schooled growing up...all the way through high school.

Bama Belle said...

Beautiful! I adore those napkins. I love the simplicity of this table. Very elegant

Phyllis @Around the House said...

Love your blog, and those black and white napkins and the checkered tablecloth were wonderful together, the whole setting is so lovely especially with the splash of color in the flowers, I will be back again, Thanks for sharing....Phyllis@around the house....

Phyllis @Around the House said...

Hi, Its me again, The seagrass chair is from a store hear in ca. It is called "just like the model" they have all the furniture that has been in the model homes, all the linens, place settings, glasses, bedding, it's quite a place, maybe you have one around you or one like it....thank you for your kind comments, I am a new follower and I will return...Phyllis

Papier Creatif said...

Oh yes! I love those napkins too & the great mix of check, texture with a pop of color! Very trendy & really cute!

santamaker said...

I used to live in Winter Park and my parents would drive to Tampa to go to a famous Spanish/Cuban restaurant there. I remember having arroz con pollo and frijoles negros. Que Rico!