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Everything’s Coming Up Roses: June Tablescape Design Celebrates America’s Favorite Flower & Comfort Food For Solace

 

Gypsy’s stage mother, Rose, belts out “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” ~ the big, brassy paean to the power of positive thinking.

With June hailed as “rose month,” it was pretty much a given that my tablescape would feature America’s favorite flower, the rose, in a starring role.

That, plus roses have a nearly universal meaning of love and respect; making roses a perfect part of a funeral flower arrangement. 

Is that a pivot?  Not really. A journey of grief can be considered that positive thinking that Rose sang about. 

My tablescape was to be pretty and a tribute to comfort food and floral design as part of bereavement. 

Why?  I’m eager to share with you.




Pretty pastels always make us happy!  

I used my floral placements, Lenox pink plates, and green glass plates, the pale pink linen (Williams & Sonoma) table runner, pink Williams & Sonoma glasses paired with green Villeroy-Boch glasses.

I folded the pink linen napkins into rose buds!  Sweet.

  

I added fairy lights along the table runner to create a sparkling delight for dining in the evening.

 

I placed faux rose petals along the length of the lights to layer in more pretty rose fantasy, as well as to soften the lights (where the bulbs are).

I used my pink low vases with red glass beads in the bottom in the back of the table filled with faux flowers; blue glass vases on the runner, filling them with supermarket pink roses.  Circular mirrors underneath the vases amplify the flowers and fairy light glow.

I often say that food is a prism.  By way of food, we can see and understand a myriad of issues, including social justice, luxury, identity, culture, and more.

Here, I was building on the idea or premise that  “Where there is grief, there is food.”  Food can be solace.  Comfort. 

I’ll explain more on this later..

For the tablescape design, the whimsical nod to comfort food included two cans of Campbell’s chicken soup, old-fashioned Quaker Oats, my mother’s homemade bread ~ at 98, she still bakes a fresh loaf every week!  That’s true comfort food ~ just 3 ingredients. So good for you.

With reverence, I placed prayer cards, those memorial cards we Catholics give to guests who attend the funeral services of our loved ones. On tiny easels, I placed one of my beloved father’s and one of my dear cousin who died years ago in a tragic car accident.  

I also placed my First Communion rosary beads around the glass and silk rose.

Cultural Compassion

Persephone | Gods and Demons Wiki | Fandom

Further, I researched how different cultures, in different ages celebrated their dead.

I learned that the ancient Greek goddess, Persephone, is the queen of the underworld and agriculture, played a role in rituals of the dead.

“Parsley was used by Greeks to fashion wreaths for graves. One old legend explains the reason for the extremely slow and unreliable germination of parsley is that the seed goes nine times to the devil and back before coming up.”

I liked that legend.  So I placed parsley in the horizontal vases on either side of the table.

It’s fun and interesting to not only use things you have in new and interesting ways, but also to add to the stories that a good tablescape design can offer…

Don’t you just love learning there is a history and meaning to our rituals and food plays a key role? Here’ a few interesting cultural touchstones surrounding how we honor our departed: 

  • Egyptians buried the dead with food to take on their journey to the next world. 

  • I think most of us are familiar with Mexico’s DIa De Los Muertos reunites the living and dead with altars to honor loved ones “decorated with bright yellow marigold flowers, photos of the departed, and the favorite foods and drinks of the one being honored. The offerings are believed to encourage visits from the land of the dead as the departed souls hear their prayers, smell their foods and join in the celebrations,” according to the Day of the Dead website.

  • Bagels were thought to protect against the Evil Eye

  • In Japan, mourners sprinkle themselves or a corner of their home with salt to ward off evil spirits

  • In Victorian times, families and friends would picnic in cemeteries not only to honor the dead but also because cemeteries were the green spaces in urban areas that, as yet, had no public parks.  In many cultures and places, people continue this tradition.  When I visited Havana, we saw many families picnicking at their beautiful cemetery. I understand the same is true in Paris. And Brooklyn’s National Historic Landmark: Woodlawn Cemetery.  

Most of us today mark the conclusion of a funeral service and burial with a meal after a service.  

So too, neighbors bring comfort food such as a casserole, a deep-dish lasagna or baked goods to the home of a family who’s lost someone.  I know after my father died, we welcomed friends and family who brought us deli platters and casseroles, cookies, and pies.

We welcomed these tokens of comfort food and love…

What are your family and community traditions? 

Food*Grief Project

Importantly, I wanted to mark this tablescape as an homage to the videocast guest for my Ladies Who Lunch Conversations.

.  

I had the honor of hosting Lisa Kolb Ruland, creator, cook, baker and writer, The Unpeeled Journal, her award-winning blog

I first “met” Lisa on a webinar hosted by the International Association of Culinary

Professionals, (IACP) where she discussed her Food*Grief Project, that connects people in ways that heal and nurture.

It’s no surprise that I was keen to interview Lisa, especially since I recently completed the rigorous study to earn a certificate in End of Life Training / Death Doula.

I am very much advocating that we need to have much more conversation and dialogue about death.

It’s going to happen to all of us!

We need to prepare for our going on the next big adventure, and to prepare our loved ones also. There is a way to not only go with grace, but to make it unique to us, and to provide a legacy that will endure…


I very much wanted to explore and share Lisa’s personal journey of becoming a widow as a newlywed to finding solace in her cooking and writing…

In our Conversation, Lisa tells us about comfort food; how to make rituals for yourself when experiencing grief.

“Grief is often the most overlooked aspect of cooking,” according to Lisa.

In our Conversation, she discusses the 6th Stage of Grief: Cooking Alone, along with sage advice about shopping, what to do with leftovers, and why a lovely tablescape matters…

This is important work and Lisa is a visionary.

Lisa says that “Even in the depths of grief, we have a relationship with food — albeit one that may be greatly altered. Food connects us, and food heals us.”

Please enjoy this quick video tour of my June tablescape

And you can view the complete videocast on the Ladies Who Lunch Conversations Facebook page. (And Follow! There are so many inspiring women there that I’ve had the distinct honor and pleasure to share with you…)

Thank you so much, Lisa. You are a true inspiration to us.

And if you all don’t yet follow Lisa and her blog, Unpeeled Journal, sign on ~ the site is brimming with excellent recipes, how-to’s, and sage advice.

In gratitude…

 


4 Comments

  • Garden Glamour

    It makes my heart sing to hear that you are learning interesting things from my blog posts. And please do let me know your thoughts/feedback after you listen to the compelling interview with Unpeeled Journal's Lisa. Thank you so much.

  • Anonymous

    Once again I learn more interesting facts. Will listen to the interview.

  • Garden Glamour

    Thank you so much. I am grateful you enjoyed the interview with Lisa. She is so compelling; so compassionate; so inspiring. And so talented! I hope you will also follow her @UnpeeledJournal ~ and the subject of managing grief is a subject we all need to talk about more. If you want to share your story, please do here and at Lisa's Food*Grief Project. Love to you…

  • Anonymous

    Great interview and a very interesting subject.

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"Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art."
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 I adore plants. Plants are my muse ~ they are my paramour… I’m a garden artist; a nature lover, & horticulturist. I’m an author & writer. My passion for culture & beauty, along with my trait curiosity, brings you an authentic celebration of life. I’m a storyteller ~ weaving the artful gifts of horticulture, garden design, tablescape decor, floral design, cocktail culture, garden-to-glass recipes & their glamorous garnishes, homegrown edibles, food & drink; & cooking, to bring you my flair & what I’ve been told is an avid elan ~ as well as the stories from those who inspire me ~ to pursue an elegant, enduring, & joyful, entertaining lifestyle. It’s an honor & a privilege to do what you love.

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