Before May completely gets away, here are two dinner parties I thought you might enjoy and be inspired by. One is outdoors in the olive grove at Rancho La Zaca, our home in California. The other is in the beautiful Manhattan apartment of my friend Carolyne Roehm.
Both were May birthdays–one for His Grace (aka husband Tom) earlier this month and one for the Principessa (aka Carolyne Roehm, friend and traveling buddy). I’ve taken to titling my friends and family. Clearly have watched too much Downton Abbey.
No fuss was made over HG’s birthday per se, because he is grumpy about it, so the party was officially for no reason whatsoever.
We started with drinks by the pond and a special guest…
Thank goodness for the roll of striped fabric leftover from slipcovering chairs. It became the fortune teller’s booth and the tablecloth.
You think three dozen balloons is a lot, but they didn’t go very far among the olive trees. I have learned to get what I think I need and then get some more–but sometimes I forget.
You always hear about bringing the outdoors in, but sometimes it is fun to bring the indoors out. We brought out two of the striped slipcovered chairs out and set them up with a table and candelabrum to make a seating area. “Madame Pam” carried on her readings there.
She asked Preacher, not knowing he was a minister, if a lot of people came to him with their problems. “I mean a lot of people,” she said. He allowed as how they did, but he never did tell her he was a minister.
This post is a study in contrasts. As I had been caught up in moving and other of life’s busy-ness, I confess HG’s party was rather hastily (though lovingly;) thrown together, and that is okay. The important thing is to do it. If you wait until everything is perfect, you’d hardly ever do anything. People are happy to be invited, happy not to do it themselves, and happy to be with you, and that is plenty.
Not to say that a bit of perfection now and then isn’t wonderful. The second party, a few days later in New York, was planned and executed with such grace and beauty that one could naught but gasp with visual pleasure.
Carolyne’s handsome longtime beau Simon Pinniger and her assistant Rosa Costa and staff conspired to surprise her this year, and surprise her they did. Read her account of it and see all the beautiful photos on her site here.
If you follow Principessa you know she has recently acquired a lovely old house in Charleston and is up to her elbows in Palmettos restoring it. Simon commissioned a birthday cake made as a replica of the house. Have you ever.
It was good, too.
Here we all are.
Among Carolyne’s lovely and talented guests this evening were Alex Reese and his wife the architect Alison Spear. Alex is above on Carolyne’s left, and Alison is at the end of the table on the left. Their wonderful house in upstate New York is featured in Architectural Digest this month , written and produced by another friend and another May birthday girl, Nina Griscom, who’s been blogging up a storm lately, btw.
Many happy returns! … And speaking of returns, I will return soon with Painting in Italy Part 2 and with a brief re-cap of our cycling adventure in the cold, rainy Loire Valley… If you think HG was grumpy about his birthday…
Takes my breath! Just birthdays to remember always. What a treat to armchair see. Cannot wait for next writing on Loire. Was there once in time of drought and next time flood stage and still raining. Whatever, wonderful! Have fun..
Lynn and Dick
What wonderful parties—you truly live an exciting life … enjoy!
Tom’s birthday was actually magical – so “thrown together” depends on who’s doing the throwing…
And even something like not having the number of balloons befitting a “go big or go home” approach can work unexpectedly well as they floated on a perfect breeze like an installation of festive orbs – they had space to move…
So, as you said, the important thing is to do it…
And the palm reader was truly a revelation – and a great addition to a birthday party when we’re inclined to reflect on the gift of life – in specific…
Just beautiful party settings. The large rock crystal candle holders will be on my list of look for’s at the next Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. Can you possibly share your resource of them?
Hi Gigi! Thanks so much for writing. I confess those beautiful rock crystal candle holders were already at the ranch when I got there, but I did find this source online: http://www.shopatchurchill.com/McCoy_Clear_Natural_Rock_Crystal_Taper_Candleholde_p/112237.htm
I love that you charged 5 cents for the fortunes 🙂 Nice touch!
Thank you Cynthia! Sadly I failed to collect. Do you think it is too late to send bills? 🙂 xo Frances
Duly inspired by both parties!! Hope you will get in touch when you visit Carolyne in Charleston. there is so much to paint here-you will love it. i work for the fabulous water color artist Mary Whyte. I would love for you to meet her
Wow, will you come and organize my life? I loved the red balloons in the olive trees.I’ve had fun with the biscuit recipe, but the southern twang is difficult.
So much fun to read all about everything from Istanbul!
The food photos &descriptions could do a lot over here.
RLZ looks so beautiful. See you soon. Kate