Oh, friends, have I got a new book for you! It's called "The Collected Tabletop" by Kathryn Crisp Greeley with Heather A. Anderson, photography by J. Weiland. I first happened upon this book in a garden shop in Atlanta a few weeks back, and it is truly a treasure. While this is by no means a "tea book," it is the loveliest, most inspiring tabletop decor book I have read in ages, and I can't help thinking some of my fellow teaware and glassware lovers would enjoy it as much as I did. After I finished reading it—savoring it, really—I actually found myself analyzing what I had enjoyed so much about the book. Not since the early days of Victoria magazine have I found a voice which writes so thoughtfully and lovingly about the wares we choose for our tables.
When the book arrived and I saw the back cover, I knew immediately that Greeley is a kindred spirit, because she has a teapot topiary at her home! How beautiful! I also liked her opening comments about the importance of actually using one's collections, such as her Old Coalport china shown here. "And please," she writes, "do not mistake my use of the word 'collection' to suggest the rare and precious. I believe that nothing is too precious to be used." (Can we get an amen to that?) And I greatly admire her design philosophy, that homes should be "collected, not decorated."
The book's 12 chapters feature 12 different entertaining occasions, and just to give you a hint, here's a scene from my personal favorite, the Book Club Luncheon titled "A Study in Pink," some of the dishes of which are shown here. There's also a Grandmother's Book Shower, including tables set with Mason's Ironstone Strathmore Blue and blue Royal Lace Depression glass; a Black-Tie Birthday Celebration for a gentleman friend, where the table was set with a magnificent collection of Flora Danica; and a completely gorgeous "Wee Irish Surprise" dinner where the table featured Wedgwood's Napoleon Ivy pattern. The chapters also include a few recipes from the events featured, and I was so smitten by the decorating and entertaining hints that I almost forgot to actually look at the recipes. There are quite a few of these recipes I intend to try, but they were simply the icing on the cake (such as Greeley's grandmother's Caramel Cake, which looks divine!).
And all you blue lovers out there? This book is a real bonanza for you: there's a collector of Blue Willow ware, helpful information on collecting cobalt blue glass, and the author's own personal collecting passion, flow blue. As if all that weren't enough, the book also shares ideas for invitations, menus, placecards and favors. Her ideas really set me off on a path of conjuring up even greater, more thoughtful gifts at my future tea parties! If I sound a bit rah-rah about this book, well, yes. I am just so very pleased that someone writes with such passion about the lovely wares that bring so many of us such great pleasure, day in, day out. To learn more about Greeley and her book, visit her book's website here.