Monday, August 24, 2009

Creating An Indoor Picnic for Book Group

Once a year, I pick a book and host a Book Group party at my house. Our Book Group is a bit unusual as far as Book Groups go...or so I have heard. Pretty much the same group has been together for about eight years now. We have only had two friends leave and two friends join in all that time.

Last Friday was my night to host. The book I chose was The Help by Kathryn Stockett:

Set in Mississippi in 1962 during the civil rights movement, the story chronicles the lives of three women, one white and two black, and how they came together to write a book about how "the help" coexisted with their well-to-do white employers.

Truthful and thoughtful, funny and heartbreaking, the story is one that I, and the rest of my group thought was one of our favorites in our eight years together.(If you would like more information and editorial reviews click here.)

I decided that since the weather was on the hot side, that I would create in indoor picnic for our get together. I started with a burlap table cloth I had made a few years back. Burlap is very inexpensive (about 3 or 4 dollars per yard) and holds up for a very long time! I placed grass place mats on top and added a row of potted plants down the center. The plants I chose were a citron green "Lamium Golden" and an eggplant hued "Sweet Potato Vine". I loved the color contrast! I got them at Target along with some brown terracotta pots. The pot color went so well with the burlap. And after the party I am putting the plants in my garden! I love a dual purpose purchase.

I experimented with some of my mercury glass candlestick holders: very pretty, but a bit too formal for a "picnic":

So I decided to go with these simple votive holders, again, very inexpensive from Michael's. I think they were 50 cents apiece.

A couple in between each pot. Simple and clean.

I added my "Great White Plates" from Pottery Barn. ( Now you can have them monogrammed!)I think a white plate shows off food so well. And for the meal I had planned, they were the perfect size: big!

I wanted something that looked like a picnic tablecloth for the napkins and found the perfect thing at IKEA. These rolls have four cloths, each one a different white and blue pattern for $2.49 per roll! That is 62 cents per napkin. I like that. And again, dual purpose!

Placed in the middle of each plate, the "napkins" are a nice big size for my picnic.

I added simple wine glasses, again from IKEA, and a bottle of Pellegrino at each place instead of a water glass to finish it off. Now on to the food!

For a little snacking before dinner, I laid out cheeses, fig jam, some Kalamata olives and olive tapenade, a bit of Hummus and a few French Plums. I iced the wine, beer and waters in a galvanized bucket.

When we were ready we sat down to an evening picnic:

I had prepared a buffet of salads: Heirloom tomatoes from the garden with basil and mozzarella, Ina Garner's potato salad with lots of fresh dill, my version of the Bottega snap pea and white corn salad with a citrus dressing, my green salad with pine nuts and avocado, and a fruit salad. A bit of French bread with Gruyere and olives, and we were very happy.( Oh yes, the platters I had just found at the last Sacramento Antique Faire . LOVE them!!)

34 comments:

Mrs. Blandings said...

Oh, Katie - it looks so yummy. The table and the food. And the napkins are terrific.

Tracy @ comfortandluxury said...

What a lovely picnic table! Ikea towels as napkins... such a great idea. I'm in a book club that formed at the first of this year and it hasn't yet been my turn to host. Your dinner is so well thought out and yet simple and fresh... I'll keep it in mind in hopes that my turn doesn't come til it's picnic season again!

Design Wanna-be said...

Can I come too?

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Everyone is talking about that book! I must read it.
Looks like a lovely party!

Suzy said...

YUM! That looks AMAZING! Can I join your bookclub? All we do is drink in ours ;)

Minnie said...

A deceptively simple but elegant meal and party! I love it. Special thanks for detailing the step-by-step process of setting the table. So many times I see lovely party settings and need to decipher how it was put together. Anyway, I wish I belonged to your book club. I love books and it sounds like great fun.

Greet said...

I love the setting of your table!
I would come over immediately to join!

Greet

Dagny @ Beautiful Living said...

Wow, wish I was there!! Looks like you had an amazing evening and an AMAZING meal!! :D Love the ikea "napkins" :)

FOREVER JANN and 13THORNYROSES said...

BEAUTIFUL LAY OUT...SOUNDS LIKE A DELIGHTFUL EVENING AND FUN BOOK CLUB GET TOGETHER. WISH I BELONGED TO SOMETHING THIS FUN......YUMMY SALADS TOO.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

It was fun to watch you prepare your table for your guests. The book sounds interesting and I'm sure the book club left feeling satisfied on many levels.

bluehydrangea said...

Your table looks perfect. The Help was one of my all time favorite books!! Wish I could have been there to discuss it with you..and to eat!

Anne said...

Superb book, one I've been recommending for the past four months.

And your table and menu were so welcoming, relaxing, and inspiring--so unlike some of those table scenes in the book. In excellent taste, both aesthetically and food-wise.

Thanks.

Erin Lang Norris said...

Wow! Your table looks fantastic! You put it together so well. Thanks for the step by step process! I just bought a house and plan on having lots of gatherings, so this is great inspiration.

katiedid said...

Hi Patricia!
It was a really fun party, and it was yummy!

Hi Tracy-
Thanks for visiting. I hope you have a great party yourself and hope to see pictures of your event.

katiedid said...

Welcome Design Wanna-be-
Thanks so much for the visit.Maybe we can arrange a blogger book group? ;)

Pamela - I do recommend it highly. It is a great read!

Hi Suzy...LOL...drinking is good!!!

Hi Minnie!
Thanks so much for the kind words. I say, go ahead and start your own group! It is such a fun way to stay in touch with people you might not see often otherwise.

katiedid said...

Hi Greet, Dagny and Forever! Thanks! I was lucky to find the IKEA napkins at the last minute. SO happy I did!

Hi Bonnie, you are so kind! I am thinking that a bit more of this sort of post might be fun!

Blue - I wish you were here too! Sometimes we don't get to talk about the book enough and this was a favorite.

katiedid said...

Hi Anne and Erin!
Thanks so much for the visit. I am glad you liked the post! It was really fun to put together.

Megan said...

What a beautiful table and spread! Very inspiring!

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

I really wish I was in your book club. :-) The table is totally gorgeous...I recently bought blue and white dishtowels to use as napkins (cheap, but not as much so as yours -- good job!) and this is totally inspiring me to have an indoor picnic!

Yansy said...

What a beautiful table scape. I love the Ikea towels. The food looks yummy!

KJ said...

So cute. I like that the colour scheme is simple and natural. You did a really great job of bringing the outdoors in.

It makes me jealous. I have a bag full of items that I purchase w/ a gift card at Pier 1, with the plans to throw a backyard dinner party one day. Just one little problem... My tennants are using that yard. And I don't feel like entertaining here at my parents house. *sigh*

Cote de Texas said...

omg - what a spread! I love the napkins - so cute, but I kept waiting to see the mess afterwards!!! you are too much of a lady to share that with us.

Grant K. Gibson said...

That looks SO pretty!
When you start letting new members in- I will BE THERE!

interiorblogging said...

That food looks divine and the table is just perfect. Great Job.

K @ Blog Goggles said...

This is stunning! You took everyday items that we probably have around the house and made it look beautiful. Not to mention the food looks delicious!

Creategirl said...

love the table!! It looks beautiful!

so.chic said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE your table! I have got to check out Michael's and Ikea for those great and inexpensive finds. I hear the book is great! Thanks so much for sharing.

my favorite and my best said...

so pretty and the food looks amazing. i need to get some of those ikea napkins. yes i do.

Jaime said...

I loved this! I featured it in my Friday Faves list today: http://laviejaime.blogspot.com/2009/08/friday-faves_28.html


Happy weekend!

Jaime
laviejaime.blogspot.com

Deliciously Organized said...

Wow, looks stunning. Great idea to bring the picnic inside! -carlee

FuchsFamily said...

Absolutely loved the Help and love what you did with it! My book group just did Southern dishes and since I'm so crazy I drove through KFC and brought a bucket of Chicken!

mrsplainjane said...

A friend was just telling me about that book last night (I'm so out of the loop these days). Anyway, you set an absolutely fantastic table! I love how you share the details of exactly how you put things together! Hope everyone appreciated your beautiful efforts. :) Thanks for sharing!

mrsplainjane said...

p.s. I'm a huge fan of that potato salad- it's such a summer staple :) All your food looks so yummy. I'm a vegetarian, and could have had a feast to choose from! I love that everything is so fresh. :)

Eby said...

I love how many looks you can coax out of white dishes! Love the picnic idea and hope to be mimicking the effort soon.