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How To Set a Beautiful Thanksgiving Table

It’s almost that time of year… when family and friends gather, prepare delicious food, and sit down together to give thanks for all their blessings. I am the first to admit that serving dishes and colorful plates are not the most important part of this holiday. However, I do believe that food tastes better when it is displayed well and that hand-crafted pottery is the perfect pairing for hand-crafted recipes. With that in mind, I’ve put together a guide to setting a beautiful Thanksgiving table.

ceramic holiday serving dishes
#1 Size: Be sure the food fits the dish.

The first consideration in how to set a beautiful Thanksgiving table is the size and shape of your plates and bowls. You want to choose ceramic serving dishes that fit your food comfortably, with plenty of space for hands to pass the dish or serving spoons to rest within it.

#2 Color: Show off your food.

While often overlooked, the color of the food is an important determining factor when deciding in which plate, platter or bowl it should be served. You want to highlight the food and make it look it’s best, which usually means serving it on contrasting colors. Here are a few examples:

Cheese Plates

I love adding grapes and dried fruit to a cheese plate, both for the visual effect (adding color) and to balance the richness of cheese. The Tuscan Fruit Platter (below) is perfect because of its hand-painted fruit motif, which supplements whatever you serve on it by adding a backdrop of fresh fruit color.

cheese plate

Yams or Sweet Potatoes

Colorful foods are always the easiest to make look good. The most important thing to keep in mind with especially bright and colorful food is to serve it on a plate or in a bowl that allows its color to really stand out. If the serving dish is too colorful itself (whether in a different or similar color), the food will not stand out. blue and white platterFor bright orange yams, I opt for a white background so the color can really pop. Here are too great options: Gorky Gonzales’ El Mar Platter (seen on the right) and Ceramica Valenciana’s Rectangular Platter in white (below). The El Mar Platter has always been one of my favorite ceramic serving dishes because of the unique shape and subtle decoration around the edge. In this case, the complimentary colors of deep blue in the glaze and golden orange of the yams play off each other perfectly. Yum!

 

#3 Style: Whether sophisticated or casual, pick a style and stick to it.

You can pretty much tell by the collection of pieces I’ve curated at Emilia Ceramics that I usually opt for a relaxed, laid-back style. But there are definitely events (Thanksgiving being one of them) when a more sophisticated style is in order. That’s why I love Gialletti Giulio’s plates. They have a grown-up, fancy look to them, but still maintain their hand-painted authenticity. You can literally see the brush strokes that were applied by the Italian artists who made them. But they also offer a lovely white backdrop for your meal. And there’s a variety of designs, which look great mixed and matched together or used separately.

italian salad plate

red plate deruta plate

My favorite style for dessert plates is subtle, yet fun and festive. The Spanish dessert plates (below) by Ceramica Valenciana are my ideal, because they work regardless of whether you’re serving pie, cake, brownies, or fruit salad. They are delicate, charming, original, and stylish. These plates are perfect for serving all ages and really showing off whatever dessert you’ve prepared.

spanish bird plate with pumpkin pie
spanish dessert plate
Other great dessert plate options are Richard Esteban’s fun yellow plates with various center designs, from cars, dogs, fish, and birds, to more festive polka-dots and stripes, these plates are as sweet as any dessert imaginable. For a more refined, grown-up look, Gialletti Giulio’s more basic plates with stripes are a lovely backdrop for apple or pumpkin pie.

fish dessert plate

french polkadot dessert plate

Do you have any special tips for how to set a beautiful Thanksgiving table? We’d love to hear them, so please share in the comments section below.

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Valentine’s Gifts to Suit Your Loved One’s Passion

The holiday of love is almost upon us and you might be expecting the usual flowers, chocolates or jewelry again this year. Or, perhaps you and your significant other decided to forego material gifts this year in favor of quality time with one another. If that isn’t the case, and you’re hoping to receive something unique this Valentine’s Day, consider finding a way to slip a link to this post to your loved one. Here at Emilia Ceramics, we’d like to see your love celebrated with the gift of a ceramic treasure from one of our talented artists.

Below, we showcase a few such ideas, characterized by a specific passion your partner might recognize in you.

For the Wine Enthusiast

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Vino Cups by Ceramica Valenciana (Valencia, Spain)

The wine loving woman in your life appreciates nice things and just another bottle of good wine isn’t special enough for this occasion. Luckily, we have many gift options for the vino-inclined. A classic is this Black Striped Wine Bottle Holder by Talavera Vazquez. If she’s drawn to old-world design, she might appreciate the Antique Vino Pitcher… Or for a more irreverent oenophile, these Vino Cups by Ceramica Valenciana are pure fun. If she has everything a wine drinker already needs and then some, a fun add on to a quality bottle of her favorite wine would be any of our wine stoppers, like this Fiore Wine Cork by Ceramiche D’Arte Tuscia in Montelupo Florentino, Italy.

For more ideas, check out all our Wine Accessories or our special gift-giving section for Wine Enthusiasts.

For the Creative Chef

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White Footed Serving Dish by Ceramica Valenciana (Valencia, Spain)

When gifting your loved one who loves to spend time in the kitchen, you can’t go wrong with serving ware or table accessories. A few of my favorites for anyone who loves to be creative when cooking: the Cherry
Spoon Rest
, by Ceramiche D’Arte Tuscia; the Burnt Honey Etched Trivet by artist, Richard Esteban from Aigues-Vives, France; and this timeless White Footed Serving Dish by Ceramica Valenciana.

To see more, shop Serving Dishes >>

For the Dessert Lover

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Gogo Square Plates by Gorky Gonzalez (Guanajuato, Mexico)

If your partner has a certain affinity for the “sweeter” things in life, give her a gift that will help her bake or serve her favorite dessert. Small appetizer dishes are perfect for dishing up chocolate truffles or petit fours. Especially for a more delicate or intricate dessert, small plates that offer a blank canvas are best, such as the Gogo Square Plates in five fun colors. For a light-hearted dessert lover, the Wildflower Bouquet Cookie Plate is a great idea, as are any of the small pieces created by French artist, Sylvie Duriez. As a compliment to any of these, think about coffee drinking accouterment, such as this San Miguel Mini Creamer and the San Miguel Sugar Bowl.

For more dessert-friendly gift ideas, check out our Footed Platters and Bowls, (great for displaying cakes, cookies, brownies, and cupcakes) or our collection of Appetizer and Mini Plates.

Beyond just gift ideas, my advice is to always think outside the box when shopping for that special someone. Try to picture yourself, as them, doing something they love to spend time doing and get creative from that perspective. And remember, provided your gift is picked out with the intent of wanting to make your loved one happy, you really can’t go wrong!

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Seasonal Traveling Abroad: Ways You Can Bring Your Trip Home With You

If you know anything about Emilia Ceramics, you know we love to travel. Each one of our artists is selected because of their unique contribution to the timeless craft of pottery. From Italy to Mexico, including a number of countries in between, we have a passion for bringing custom-made, one of a kind ceramics from remote communities across the globe, into your home.

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Skeleton Serving Tray, Gorky Gonzalez (Guanajuato, Mexico)

In my continuous search for pieces I think people will cherish, I find myself learning a lot about other cultures. Before I set off for a new location, I do a lot of planning. Researching international destinations and then experiencing these amazing towns and cities in person, has enabled me to learn a lot about local customs, the people who live in different parts of the world, and the values that influence their lives (and their artwork).

While I go on buying trips at all different times of the year, many people travel internationally around the holidays. If that’s the case for you and you’ve recently returned home from an awe-inspiring holiday trip, this post is for you. Here’s my advice on how to hold on to some of that old world culture you discovered, when you’re back at home.

Local Language

No matter what corner of the world you visit, chances are, you’ll be exposed to a beautiful new language. I find the local language of any country I visit to be such an important part of the total experience, (regardless of whether or not I can understand everything my new friends share with me.) So much so that in addition to the few key words and phrases I learn before my trip, I’m sometimes motivated to continue my learning when I arrive home.

Duolingo is a great app to use in practicing a little before you go, or once you come back. One of the simplest ways I’ve found to quickly return to the memory of a country I’ve loved is to spend a few minutes speaking the native language.

Local Food/Drink

Due to restrictions on the flight home, bringing your favorite local cuisine home with you could pose some challenges. Although there are ways you can pack and ship, or stow, bottled beverages and packaged foods that you just can’t depart without, it is probably more feasible to try to recreate the recipes at home. Here’s a sampling of some shortcuts to making international delights in your own kitchen. Of course there are any number of great cookbooks out there that focus on International cuisine, many of which come with inspiring photos and stories about the local chefs that created the recipes. This is a great excuse to host a dinner party and share the memories of your trip with friends or family.

Local Artwork

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Visiting Sylvie Duriez (Pertuis, France)

This is a recommendation I have for everyone who takes a trip beyond the U.S. borders. Procuring a piece of art from a foreign country doesn’t have to be expensive – you can spend any amount that matches your budget. While gallery visits are wonderful, the artwork found there is typically among the pricier of options. Though in many countries I’ve visited, I’ve been to outdoor markets that feature local artists selling paintings, photographs or hand-made goods. Here’s just one list from Frommer’s. I’ve even framed some of the city maps that you get free when you check into a hotel. The really special ones are those that I’ve worn out while exploring the city and that have pen marks where locals have recommended restaurants, markets, or museums to visit.

Of course, the photos you take are often the best mementos from a trip. Blowing up a few of your favorites and framing them is a great way to cherish the memories of a great adventure.

Obviously, I’ve always loved to collect local ceramic artistry, originally for myself and now because I love to share it with my customers! But in any country you visit, you can find artwork that comes in a format that matches your style.

Where are you going next? Perusing the Emilia Ceramics collection might inspire your next destination of choice.

(If you’re a fellow international traveler, please repost a link to this blog with your thoughts on how you bring a little bit home with you from the countries you visit. I’d love to hear your ideas!)

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Hosting THE Holiday Party

This time of year, with everything going on, it’s common to know people who are scrambling trying to prepare the final touches for hosting the holiday party. If you’re one of these people, don’t fret. With this short list of priorities, you can enjoy a relaxed, yet festive party that leaves your guests wondering if you hired a professional event planner!

Focus on a few things

First things first – start by prioritizing your guests’ experience. At an event of any size, your friends and family want to have an enjoyable night. This comes less from fanfare and more from the space you create to allow connections to develop or strengthen. Don’t try to do it all.

Apart from the food and drink, adding one or two other feature elements can give your gathering that special touch. Consider combining two or three essential oils, like any of these options from the Keeper of the Home blog, and use diffusers to add a subtle signature scent to your space. To complement this, make the room twinkle by scattering LED string lights or unscented candles on a few out of the way surfaces.

Bring the outdoors inside

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At your party this year, think about how to celebrate Mother Nature’s contribution to our seasonal merriment. Looking to the table setting you plan to feature, determine what outdoor elements could add to your décor. I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by the organic gifts of the Rocky Mountains, which means I have a handful of options. From pinecones to sprigs of Evergreen to branches with berries, I like to intersperse natural elements everywhere I can.

If this isn’t accessible in your area, you can still bring the outdoors in by incorporating wood grain serving trays or utensils. Or, consider crafting a bit before the party begins with a few ideas from Brit+Co.

Let your guests craft the cocktail

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Even a small collection of spirits, mixers and cocktail accouterment, displayed with gold or silver-rimmed glassware on a modestly decorated bar cart can bring a festive flair to your event. Curate a couple of mixologist-inspired drink recipes – like any of these – and set out copies. Or encourage your guests to try their hand at getting creative in crafting the blend that suits their palette.

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Cherry Red Long Platter by Gorky Gonzalez (Guanajuato, Mexico)

If you want to go all out, you can still follow the above tips to get started. Then, follow some advice I received a few years ago for putting on a hit event: Walk yourself through the party, from beginning to end and make a list of the details you want to ensure get included. Turn the holiday party into something more elaborate by bringing in some outside entertainment, adding custom floral arrangements to every surface, or make a personalized gift for guests to take home.

Just in case you’re looking for some last-minute wares to get you ready for the event you’re hosting this year or next, here is a collection of holiday serving dishes I’ve put together.

Regardless of your party planning style, remember it’s your guests’ experience that makes memories. And hosting the holiday party should be about celebrating the time spent with those who matter most to you.

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Part III: Fresh Fall Design Trends This Year

In Part 2 of my look at fresh fall design trends this year, I reviewed options for how to add metallic accents and mix metals and woods when designing in the home. And since winter has yet to hit Colorado, there’s still time to experiment with the third and final trend among this year’s seasonal décor styles.

From leading with neutrals to mixing materials and patterns, this is probably my favorite among the three trends I’ve explored this season.
Continue reading Part III: Fresh Fall Design Trends This Year

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Part II: This Year’s Fall Design Trends

In my last post, I took a look at one of my favorite trends from this year’s fall designs. If you missed it, read what I shared about letting neutrals lead in Part 1 of This Year’s Fresh Fall Designs.

To continue the discussion of this year’s hottest design styles, here is another trend I’ve become inspired by and am currently loving.
Continue reading Part II: This Year’s Fall Design Trends

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Part I: This Year’s Fresh Fall Designs

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It’s official – the weather is starting to change and I’m beginning to feel the transition to autumn. Every year around this time, I’m sad to have to say goodbye to the past few months of outdoor activities. The good news is I get to cozy up inside my home. As I do, I look for inspiration in the newest trends in décor.

This year, I’ve noticed a few fresh fall designs worth mentioning. The first…
Continue reading Part I: This Year’s Fresh Fall Designs

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Best Wedding Gifts

It’s May, which means wedding season is officially underway! I love weddings, especially those that really exude the personality of the couple getting married. When I choose a wedding gift, I try to mirror that individuality by picking a gift that is uniquely fitting for the bride and groom. The best wedding gifts reflect the couple’s originality and show that you were thinking specifically of them when you picked it out.

Of course, some couples you know better than others. It’s easy to pick out a thoughtful and unique gift for your best friend… a little more difficult to be really creative with a coworker or second cousin who you barely know.

Here’s my guide to the best wedding gifts, based on things like age, life-stage, and general interests.

Twenty-Something + First Real Home = Italian Pitcher or Vase

These are the types of statement pieces that work with any style and become instant family heirlooms.
Left: Small Cherry Pitcher by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia
Right: Venice Fruit Vase by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia

italian ceramic pitcheritalian ceramic vase

Small Home + Already Have “Necessities” = Salad Bowl

Because everyone can use a cool salad bowl (and they double as fruit bowls between salads).
Left: La Fiesta Salad Bowl by Talavera Vazquez
Right: Large Mixing Bowl with Blue Stripes by Gorky Gonzalez.

mexican pottery salad bowlblue and white ceramic salad bowl

Older Couple + Established Home = Beautiful Serving Platter

These classic Italian serving platters elevate any meal and can also be hung on the wall for decoration.
Left: Rectangular Serving Platter – Tuscan Fruit by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia
Right: Oval Serving Platter – Lemons on Red by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia

italian ceramic platteritalian ceramic platter with lemons

Couple Who Loves to Entertain = Cheese Plate or Vino Pitcher

These pieces have tons of unique personality that will compliment any party.
Left: Cheese Plate in Lime Green by Richard Esteban
Right: Antique Vino Pitcher by Ceramica Valenciana

french cheese platewhite vino wine pitcher

 

Contemporary Style + Colorful Personalities = Large Vase for Long Stems

A colorful, tall vase has a small foot print, but makes a big impact.
Left: Large Burnt Orange ZigZag Vase by Talavera Vazquez
Right: Blue Striped Vase Especial by Talavera Vazquez

zigzag vase orange chevronblue and white striped vase

Modern Esthetic = Bold White Decor

For the minimalist couple, these hand-crafted pieces add subtle character to a modern landscape.
Left: White Footed Bowl by Ceramica Valenciana
Right: Chalk White Long Platter with Floral Relief by Gorky Gonzalez

white footed serving bowlwhite ceramic platter

If you don’t know where to start, I suggest looking at a couples’ registry online. Even if you don’t want to buy what’s listed, it will give you an idea of their style preferences and what they need. Have questions about buying the best wedding gifts? Call or email us… we’d love to discuss some options with you.

See all our Wedding Gift Ideas Here >>

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Setting a Beautiful Easter Table

I cannot believe this Sunday is Easter! Wasn’t it just New Years like last week?! Yikes, time is flying in 2016 and it’s time to set a beautiful Easter table. Here are my favorite pieces for sharing a big meal, whether in celebration of Easter, Passover, or the spring season itself.

Salad Bowls

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This time of year, any get-together requires a fresh salad… and every salad looks better in a colorful large salad bowl, like this one: The Vina Azul Salad Bowl by Talavera Vazquez. See all our Serving Bowls Here >>

Unique Serving Plates

Blue and white serving platter

Why serve on plain white round platters? Add variety to the Easter table with rectangular or oval platters, round chargers, and square plates. We promise the mix will only add to the flavor of your meal. The above El Mar Platter by Gorky Gonzalez works for any appetizer or dessert. See all our Serving Plates Here >>

Footed Platters

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I love varying the height and dimension of serving pieces. A footed serving platter is great for serving finger sandwiches, deviled eggs, or cupcakes. Choose between a deeper footed bowl and a flat footed plate, depending on what you’re serving. The above Italian dish would be ideal for setting out fruit like strawberries and grapes. See all our Footed Dishes Here >>

Flower Vases

Setting a beautiful Easter table also requires interesting, festive centerpieces like lush flowers arranged in original vases and pitchers. Tulips are a popular Easter flower and they look fantastic in the two vases below, left: Blue Striped Mexican Vase by Talavera Vazquez; And right: Butter Yellow French Pitcher by Richard Esteban. Here are some other beautiful vases and pitcher vases.

blue striped mexican vasebutter yellow french pitcher

Want more ideas for setting a beautiful Easter table? Check out our Easter Ideas Here >>
Do you have any other tips for spring entertaining? Share them in the comment section below!

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Gift Guide Part IV: Gifts for Your Special Someone

Whether you’ve just started dating someone special, been together a few years, or have been married half your life, picking an original, thoughtful gift can be tough! It’s enough to make you want to forget the whole thing. But don’t despair… I’ve got a few ideas that’ll make a big statement, at a variety of price points. Hopefully, you’ll find just the thing to wow your special someone.

For Her: An Italian Footed Platter

Looking to splurge on a statement piece that shows just how much you love her? A classic Italian footed platter is a unique gift that will be sure to surprise and impress! A footed platter looks gorgeous filled with fruit or as a sophisticated centerpiece on the dining room table. Every time she looks at this handcrafted work of art, she’ll think of you and feel loved. Handmade by Ceramiche Bartoloni and Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia in Tuscany, starting at $145.

italian footed platter

 

Above: Foglia e Frutta Footed Platter by Ceramiche Bartoloni, $145.

italian footed platter

Above: Pomegranate Footed Platter by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia, $185.

italian footed platter

Above: Tuscan Fruit Footed Platter by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia, $185.

Shop all Italian platters here >>

For Her: A Fun and Festive Mexican Vase

Starting at just $48, these vases are bold, colorful, and totally unique to the Emilia Ceramics collection. The small round vase doubles as a makeup brush holder, the medium size vase looks amazing with tulips, and the largest makes a statement on its own and filled with long-stem roses or sunflowers. Your only decision is color — Is her style cheerful, bright, and sunny? If so, opt for the yellow or burnt orange vases. Is she more of a traditionalist? Go with blue and white. And if she’s more contemporary, then a black and white vase is an easy choice. You really can’t go wrong with these Mexican vases, handmade by Talavera Vazques.

 

 

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Above: Clockwise from left Yellow Striped Round Vase; Burnt Orange Striped Vase; Black Striped Vase – Especial; Large Blue ZigZag Vase. Shop the entire Vase Collection Here >>

For Her: An Original, Meaningful Mug

Does she love her coffee time in the morning? Or cherish a cup of tea before bed? Make those moments even more special by giving her a one-of-a-kind, handmade mug that reminds her of you every time she uses it! Here are a few of our favorite mugs, starting at $20:

red and white mugs

Above: Cherry Red & White Mugs by Gorky Gonzalez, $20 each.

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Above: Cherry Mug by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia, $48 each.

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Above: Blue Striped Mug by Talavera Vazquez, $34 each.

french polkadot mugs

Above: Polka-dot Mugs by Richard Esteban, $90 for the pair. Also available individually.

Shop the entire Mug Collection Here >>

For Him: A Functional Serving Plate

Lots of guys like hosting their friends, but they don’t want to make a big fuss about it. Help him make the most of his chips & guac, cheese spread, or barbecued meats with these platters:

blue and white oval dish with dip bowl

Above: This is the perfect oval dish for chips and salsa, guacamole, or any other dip. La Azteca Oval Dish and Matching Dip Bowl by Gorky Gonzalez, $84 for the set.

 

french_red_cheese_plate

Above: This richly-glazed French platter will elevate any cheese spread. Medium Cheese Plate in Barn Red by Richard Esteban, $145.

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Above: The Pomegranate Oval Serving Platter (or any other Italian platter for that matter) dresses up any meal, making even sausage look sophisticated! By Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia, $165.

For Him: Pottery with Personality

These unique pieces will surely bring a smile to his face… and remind him of your love whenever he’s using them.

tequilla_shot_set

Above: The Tequila Shot Set by Gorky Gonzalez ($58) might encourage a little too much tequila-drinking, but at least it’s beautifully handmade and painted, exuding tons of Mexican charm!

cups_vino_agua

Above: The simplicity of these Spanish Cups by Ceramica Valenciana is what makes them so stylish. $46 for the set, also available individually.

salsa_bowls

Above: Does he love salsa? For the guy who can never have enough salsa, these bowls are sure to be a big hit! Pair of Salsa Bowls by Ceramica Valenciana, $56 (also available individually).

horseman_plaque

Above: Whether he’s a lover of everything Italian or he’s always dreamed of drawing his sword on horseback, this beautifully-painted, one-of-a-kind piece will show him how much you love and appreciate his colorful sense of humor. Harlequin Tile with Horseman by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia, $285.

Be sure to check out our first three gift guides as well:

Gifts for Under $50 >>
Fabulous Gift Ideas for Under $100 >>
The Perfect Gift for Mom >>

 

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Gift Guide Part III: The Perfect Gift for Mom

Christmas is quickly approaching! While we are running around trying to buy the perfect gifts for everyone we care about, let’s not forget the most important, caring, and loving people in our lives: our moms! Read on to see thoughtful gift ideas for our one-of-a-kind mothers and mothers-in-laws.

 

1. Tuscan Vase

A hand-painted Tuscan vase is an easy, yet super generous gift for either your mom or mother-in-law. This classic piece will add rich, colorful colors to any home… and you can be sure she’ll think of you every time she looks at it. Beautiful whether filled with flowers or on its own. Guaranteed to put you in good graces with mom! Handmade by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia in Tuscany, $165.

Tuscan Fruit Vase

Featured Above: Tuscan Fruit Vase

Venice Fruit Vase

Featured Above: Venice Fruit Vase

italian vase

Featured Above: Rouen Colore Vase

blue and white italian vase

Featured Above: Blue Leaf Vase

Shop all Tuscan Vases >>

2. Tea Lovers

If your mom is a tea drinker, we have the perfect gift set for you. Nothing will make her happier on Christmas morning than opening a fabulous tea pot paired with beautiful tea cups! Starting at $32.

mexican cups and saucers

Featured Above: Terracotta Cup & Saucer $32.

Gorky Gonzalez Tea Pot

Featured Above: Gorky Gonzalez’s El Verano Tea Pot $98.

Blue and White Coffee Mugs

Featured Above: Cafe Mug, Te Mug, Blue and White Checkered Mug, Blue and White Floral Mug. $40

Black and White Tea Pot

Featured Above: Ceramica Valenciana Tea Pot $75.

Shop more gift ideas for tea drinkers >>

 

3. Sylvie Duriez Original French Bowls

These stunning mini bowls by French artist Sylvie Durez are truly one of a kind. With their unique detail and designs, your mom will get compliments for years to come. Perfect for serving dip or nuts when entertaining or used to keep special jewelry in the bedroom or bathroom. Your mom or mother-in-law is sure to cherish her charming little bowl and think of you often! Starting at $46.

French Bowl

Featured Above: Bird Among Pink Blossoms Mini Bowl.

French Bowl

Featured Above: Thoughtful Mini Bowl.

French Bowl

Featured Above: Kitten Pals Small Bowl.

French Bowl

Featured Above: Mouse Feast Small Bowl.

Shop the entire Sylvie Durez Collection here >>

 

4. Kitchen Decor

Is there a certain kitchen decor piece your mom is always wanting, but not apt to buy for herself? Why not help out, with a fabulous canister to place on the kitchen counter. Whether you’re looking for something she will use all the time or just for a fun flair to add to the kitchen, our canisters will be sure to please! Starting at $65, there’s a style to fit every woman’s kitchen.

black and white sugar canister

Featured Above: Azucar Canister.

blue and white canister

Featured Above: Arroz Canister.

Italian Spaghetti Canister

Featured Above: Tuscan Fruit Spaghetti Canister.

Italian Canister

Featured Above: Caffe – Small Pear Canister

Shop all Kitchen Canisters >>

 

Check out our first two gift guides:

Gift Guide I: Gifts for Under $50 >>
Gift Guide II: Fabulous Gift Ideas for Under $100 >>

… And coming up next, Gift Ideas for Your Special Someone. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gift Guide Part II: Fabulous Gift Ideas for Under $100

It’s turkey time! While you’re enjoying a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family, take a few moments to brainstorm what you’ll be buying them for Christmas or Hanukkah this year. Here to help is this week’s gift guide: Fabulous Gift Ideas for Under $100.


 1. Pitchers Galore

A stunning pitcher is guaranteed to add easy design and functionality to a loved one’s kitchen and home. Our variety of pitcher styles allows you to choose the perfect pitcher to add to your friend or mother’s extensive pitcher collection. Great for serving water, wine, milk, and olive oil… or filling with fresh flowers! Handmade by select artists in Italy, Spain, and Mexico. Starting at $56.

Pitchers

Shop Our Pitcher Collection Here >>

 

2. Garden Lovers

Is there a gardener on your gift list? You’ve come to the right place. There may be snow on the ground now, but spring is just around the corner. Give them the perfect gift for the blooming season with any of our colorful, fun planters. Handmade by Talavera Vazquez in Mexico. Starting at $58.

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Planters

Shop Our Planter Collection Here >>

 

3. Italian Soap Dishes

An easy, yet thoughtful gift, these stunning soap dishes add a touch of Italian sunshine to any bathroom or kitchen counter. Handmade by Ceramiche Bartoloni in Italy. Starting at $42.

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Shop Our Soap Dish Collection Here >>

 

4. Gorgeous Dishware

A stunning set of plates will be cherished for years to come and individual plates can be gifted over time to make up the set. These charger plates are the perfect gift for the person who likes sophisticated elegance – available in red, blue, orange, and green! Starting at $38.

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ChargerPlates

Shop Colorful Plates on Emilia Ceramics >>

And for those who are looking for a softer, more rustic look, our French dinner plates by Richard Esteban are sure to please. The endearing designs will add functionality and charm to your loved one’s home. Starting at $48.

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RichardEstebanPlates

Shop Our Entire Plate Collection Here >>

Have a hard-to-please friend or family member on your list? Don’t worry, we’ve got more gift guides coming in the next few weeks… Stay tuned!

 

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Gift Guide Part I: Gifts for Under $50

Well, it’s officially holiday season. We are quickly approaching December and that means holiday shopping, parties, delicious meals, time off from school and work, and spending time with loved ones. While it may not even be Thanksgiving yet, many of you are already brainstorming gift ideas for friends, coworkers, and loved ones. So over the next few weeks, I’ll be giving you gift ideas at different price points and tailored toward everyone on your list, starting with today’s theme: Gifts for Under $50.


1. Jewelry Boxes

A great gift to give your mom, sister, or best friend! With many different color schemes and designs to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect match. Hand-painted exclusively by Talavera Vazquez in Mexico. Starting at $24.

JewelryBoxes

Mexican Jewelry Boxes

Shop Our Jewelry Box Collection Here >>


 

2. Round Vases

Our round vases are the perfect gift for any home. Available in various colors, they can be placed anywhere in the home (think kitchen, bedside table, office, or bathroom), look great alone or with a small floral bouquet, and compliment any style of home decor. Handmade by Talavera Vazquez in Mexico. Starting at $48.

RoundVases

 

Shop Our Vase Collection Here >>


 

3. Colorful GoGo Pottery

Whether it’s a pair of bright green mugs or a festive serving platter, colorful Gogo Pottery is a gift that will be enjoyed for years to come. Handmade by artist Gorky Gonzalez in Mexico. Starting at $20.

gorkymugs

 

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Our newest additions to this collection are these charming GoGo Square Plates (below). Perfect for holding appetizers, small entrees, and desserts, they’ll be cherished far beyond the holiday season.

GoGoSquarePlate

 

Shop Gogo Mexican Pottery Here >>


 

4. Fabulous French Coffee Bowls & Mugs

Some of our most popular pieces year-round at Emilia Ceramics are our french polka dot dishes! The bowls come in 3 sizes: cereal ($34), ice-cream ($32), and dip ($30). I love giving a trio of dip bowls, or a pair of ice-cream bowls. Our polka dot mugs are equally charming. They make an easy gift for coffee-loving friends or family. Handmade by Richard Esteban in France.

french polka dot bowlsfrench polka dot mugs

Shop the Richard Esteban Collection Here >>

Need More Ideas? Gifts >>

 

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How To Set a Beautiful Thanksgiving Table

It’s almost that time of year… when family and friends gather together, prepare delicious food, and sit down together to give thanks for all their blessings. I am the first to admit that serving dishes and colorful plates are not the most important part of this holiday. However, I also believe that food actually tastes better when it is displayed well and that hand-crafted pottery is the perfect pairing for hand-crafted recipes. With that in mind, I’ve put together a guide to setting a beautiful Thanksgiving table.

ceramic serving platters
#1 Size: Be sure the food fits the dish.

The first consideration in how to set a beautiful Thanksgiving table is the size and shape of your plates and bowls. You want to choose ceramic serving platters that fit your food comfortably, with plenty of space for hands to pass the dish or serving spoons to rest within it.

#2 Color: Choose a dish that shows off your food.

While often overlooked, the color of the food is an important determining factor when deciding in which plate, platter or bowl it should be served. You want to highlight the food and make it look it’s best, which usually means serving it on contrasting colors. Here are a few examples:

Cheese Plates

I love adding grapes and dried fruit to a cheese plate, both for the visual effect (adding color) and to balance the richness of cheese. The Rectangular Serving Platter with Tuscan Fruits (below) is perfect because of its hand-painted fruit motif, which supplements whatever you serve on it by adding a backdrop of fresh fruit color.

cheese_plate

Yams or Sweet Potatoes

Colorful foods are always the easiest to make look good. The most important thing to keep in mind with especially bright and colorful food is to serve it on a plate or in a bowl that allows its color to really stand out. If the serving dish is too colorful itself (whether in a different or similar color), the food will not stand out. For bright orange yams, I opt for a white background so the color can really pop. Here are too great options (shown below): Ceramica Valenciana’s Rectangular Platter in white and Ceramiche Bartoloni’s Rooster Bowl with Handles. The latter has always been one of my favorite ceramic serving bowls because even when the center design is covered by food, there’s an equally beautiful decoration around the edge that is always visible. In this case, the hints of golden glaze are a perfect complement to the golden yams. Yum!

White Serving Platter
Italian Rooster Bowl
#3 Style: Whether sophisticated or casual, pick a style and stick to it.

You can pretty much tell by the collection of pieces I’ve curated at Emilia Ceramics that I usually opt for a relaxed, laid-back style. But there are definitely events (Thanksgiving being one of them) when a more sophisticated style is in order. That’s why I love Gialletti Giulio’s plates. They have a grown-up, fancy look to them, but still maintain their hand-painted authenticity. You can literally see the brush strokes that were applied by the Italian artists who made them. But they also offer a lovely white backdrop for your meal. And there’s a variety of designs, which look great mixed and matched together or used separately.

Deruta Dinnerwarered plateorange Italian plateDeruta Dinnerware

My favorite style for dessert plates is subtle, yet fun and festive. The Spanish dessert plates (below) by Ceramica Valenciana are my ideal, because they work regardless of whether you’re serving pie, cake, brownies, or fruit salad. They are delicate, charming, original, and stylish. These plates are perfect for serving all ages and really showing off whatever dessert you’ve prepared.

spanish bird plate with pumpkin pie
spanish dessert plate
Other great dessert plate options are Richard Esteban’s fun yellow plates with various center designs, from cars, dogs, fish, and birds, to more festive polka-dots and stripes, these plates are as sweet as any dessert imaginable. For a more refined, grown-up look, Gialletti Giulio’s more basic plates with stripes are a lovely backdrop for apple or pumpkin pie.

fish dinner platefrench polkadot dessert plate

Do you have any special tips for how to set a beautiful Thanksgiving table? We’d love to hear them, so please share in the comments section below.

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Holiday Season Essentials: Great Serving Platters for Entertaining and More

With the holidays and entertaining season just around the corner, now is the time to make sure you’re ready! Here’s a quick rundown of how to get party-ready, from colorful dishware and great serving platters for entertaining, to setting up your bar and making sure you create the right ambiance. Follow this guide now, before the craziness of the holiday season really sets in!

1. Assess Your Dishware

Since one of the key elements of entertaining is presentation, it’s a good idea to pull out your plates, bowls, serving platters, glasses, and utensils in advance and inspect for missing pieces or chips. Get a jump start by considering how many people you will be likely to have over, what you will serve, and what the theme will be. Do you have all the pieces you will need? Versatility, function, and design are all key to making sure your presentation will be both eye-pleasing and get the job done.

Pumpkin-Thanksgiving-China-Dishware-e1445780633130
Above Photo: Between Naps on the Porch

Holiday-dinnerware-in-shades-of-red-and-grey
Above Photo: Decoist

2. Pay Special Attention to Serving Platters

It’s no surprise that serving dishes are some of the most important pieces in entertaining. But did you know that they have played a vital role in the home since the 16th century Roman Empire. In fact, the oldest known serving tray is thought to have been made out of natural materials in the 7th century BC. It was an object of function (versus fashion) and was used to more efficiently carry basins and tea pots. This changed in the 1600’s when the serving tray was usually made out of silver and known as a “salver.” Those lucky enough to have silver serving trays were considered to be among the elite of the population.

Bisse-Challoner_crests_on_seven_silver_salvers_-_200603
Above: Sterling Silver Salvers produced in the 1730’s, from Wikipedia

Keeping the rich history of serving dishes in mind, take a look at your current collection of serving platters and serving bowls. Do you need to incorporate any new shapes or sizes for the entertaining season to come? Make sure to think about appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Think of adding new pieces that will bring design, versatility, and sophistication. And remember, color is key!

Square Italian Platter
Above: I love the surprising shape of square and rectangular serving platters.
Purchase here: Square Platter with Lemons >>

Cherry Red Long Platter
Above: Long serving platters are perfect for appetizers!
Purchase here: Cherry Red Long Platter >>

Black Serving Platter with Polka Dots
Above: Nothing says party like polka-dots! This serving dish is both functional and fun. It’s great for serving appetizers and small entrees, and looks fabulous with all food.
Purchase here: Black Serving Platter with Polka Dots >>

Charger Plate with Red Stripe
Above: Large round serving platters are classic and perfect for passing an entree dish.
Purchase here: Charger Plate with Red Stripe >>

Lime Green Cheese Plate
Above: Combining an authentic French look with a festive green glaze, this cheese plate makes a striking statement.
Purchase here: Small Cheese Plate – Lime Green >>

3.  Update your Bar

If you’re having people over during the entertaining season, chances are drinks are involved. You’ll want to have a fun, stylish place to keep your booze collection and bar tools. Whether it’s a fancy dinner or casual gathering, having a bar setup is a must. Try a bar cart tucked into your bar area or set a tray on top of a credenza or table. And for those who aren’t into booze, try a coffee or tea bar as well.

Horizontal-prost-bar-cart
Photo: Tasting Table

lucite-bar-cart
Photo: Simplified Bee

Another way to make your bar more welcoming is to add a touch of handmade ceramics. Think about incorporating a striped or zigzag wine bottle holder (to keep white wine chilled on the table) or a Spanish vino pitcher. When you’re throwing a party, originality is key. For an unexpected twist, try serving wine in vino cups instead of traditional wine glasses. They’re less apt to be tipped over and their handmade quality will have a lasting impression on your guests.

black zigzag utensil holderVino Wine Pitcher

Vino Wine Cups

4.  Create Mood Lighting

This may seem like an obvious consideration but a wonderful evening of entertaining will be strongly enhanced by having lighting that will flow nicely with your theme – You don’t want anything too bright or too dark. Try dimmer switches or low watt lightbulbs to create a lovely effect. And make sure to incorporate the correct music and home decor as well – Candles and a floral vase will give the room a nice ambiance and a mellow soundtrack will be sure to not get in the way during dinner or drinks.

sidetable-for-living-room-lighting
Photo: Home Edit

How will you update your home for the entertaining season this year?

 

 

 

 

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Product Spotlight: Tuscan Vase

This week I want to talk about one of the most unique and functional decor pieces, the Tuscan vase. With a variety of designs to choose from and so many different ways to use them, incorporating a Tuscan vase into your home will add immediate sophistication and style. Here are four easy ways to incorporate a Tuscan vase or pitcher vase into your home decor:

1. Create a floral arrangement.

Our Italian rooster pitcher by Ceramiche Bartolini is the perfect piece to create a stunning floral arrangement. Use bright, warm colors to really accentuate the design. The white glaze backdrop and colorful designs of the pitcher will really make your flowers pop!

Italian Rooster Pitcher

Italian Rooster Pitcher

 

2. Create a gorgeous centerpiece.

An Italian pitcher vase can do so much, whether it’s being used to serve drinks or not. The beautifully-glazed patterns and colors are striking on their own, so just place one in the center of your table and your set! Our curly-cue blue leaf pitcher is perfect as a centerpiece. Whether you choose to fill it with water, iced tea, or a bouquet of flowers. Either way, you’re guaranteed to have a colorful, bright piece that will make your table inviting.

Italian Blue and White Pitcher

Click to view our entire Italian Pitcher Collection:

3. Dress up your kitchen counters and shelves.

Tuscan vases and pitchers can really dress up your kitchen decor. Part of their beauty is in their simplicity – Just place one on your kitchen counter or on a shelf to add a warm, rustic, inviting feel. Our Tuscan Fruit Vase is a perfect example, with it’s rich, luscious colors you’ll instantly enhance your home decor!

Italian Tuscan Fruit Vase

Our Lemon Olive Oil Pitcher and Tuscan Fruit Olive Oil Pitcher by Italian artist Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia are the perfect pairings for the Tuscan Fruit Vase! Olive oil is essential in the kitchen and occasionally on the table as well. These small but functional Tuscan vases will add a touch of authentic Italian charm to your kitchen accessories.

Italian Olive Oil Pitchers

 

4. Bring warmth to your bedroom.

While Italian vases seem right at home in any room, they can do so much to add sophistication to the bedroom. Growing up, I loved when my mom would arrange a beautiful bouquet of flowers in a vase on my bedside dresser. It is a home decor ritual I continue today. An Italian vase is so feminine and gentle, and looks so stylish next to picture frames and candles.

Italian Blue and White Vase

Featured Above: Blue Leaf Vase

Another trick for using an Italian vase in your bedroom is to place it under a windowsill – The contrast between the curves of the hand-crafted Tuscan vase and the straight edges of a window creates a beautiful juxtaposition. And the incoming light is like a natural spotlight. In one easy step you have a stunning home decor arrangement in the beauty of your bedroom.

Italian Vase

Featured Above: Venice Fruit Vase

Do you love Tuscan vases or pitcher vases? How do you use them in your home? Please leave a comment below to let us know.

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Italian Pasta Bowls for Italian Pasta Lovers!

Italians do so many things well: Wine, cured meat, cheese, pizza, cappuccino, gelato. But in my opinion, pasta is their biggest achievement of all. When I visit Italy, I eat a lot of pasta! For those who have had the chance to eat pasta in Italy, you know… it’s just better there! Regardless of its shape or the sauce it’s served with, Italian pasta is (almost always) lighter, fresher, more delicate and flavorful than any attempt to replicate it outside of Italy. But just because we can’t match Italian pasta, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. I buy fresh pasta, try my hardest not to overcook it, and dress it with really light, subtle sauces.

Another secret to improving the pasta-eating experience is to eat it the way the Italians do. That means mixing noodles and sauce together in the pan so they fully incorporate, then serving large helpings in beautiful Italian pottery. Ceramic pasta bowls really can transport you (mentally and emotionally) to Italy… making the pasta you’re enjoying that much more authentic.  Here are my favorite dishes for serving pasta. I can’t promise they’ll make your pasta taste as delicious as in Italy, but they will definitely help.

Pasta Dishes for Serving 2-3 People:

oval_platter_lemons_on_red
Above: This colorful Oval Serving Platter makes a great backdrop for fresh tomato or pesto sauce.
Shop all Oval Serving Dishes >>


Above: If you’re serving multiple dishes, it’s always fun to include a Footed Platter, like this one with an angel hand-painted in the center. I picture using this one-of-a-kind platter to serve a very simple Spaghetti Aglio e Oglio.
Shop all Footed Serving Dishes >>

rooster_bowl_handles_2
Above: The beautiful flowers painted around the edge of this Rooster Bowl with Handles make it lovely to look at even when the rooster is covered… maybe with some delicious ravioli!
Shop All Rooster Bowls >>

Big Pasta Dishes for Serving 4-6 People:

bowl_limoni_salad

Above: The Limoni Bowl is just begging to serve a simple fusilli or farfalle pasta salad. It evokes a sunny Italian charm that’s right at home on a back patio.
Shop all Lemon-Inspired Pieces >>

rooster_tray
Above: The rooster is one of the most popular motifs used to decorate Italian ceramics. This Large Serving Platter is a charming example of Italian ceramic roosters at their best. It would make an amazing dish to serve a traditional Spaghetti and Meatballs!
Shop all Rooster-Related Pieces >>

Serving All-You-Can-Eat Pasta Dishes:

large_bowl_5large_bowl_closeup

Above: The Large Frutta Venezia Bowl is Italian Majolica ceramics at its finest. The rich colors and medium depth of this bowl makes it the perfect dish for serving a huge portion of Bucatini all’Amatriciana.
Shop All Italian Dishes >>

Single Servings: The Perfect Italian Pasta Bowls

A few years back, we decided to add Deruta pottery to our Italian dinnerware collection. My #1 priority was of course finding some sophisticated, functional single-serving pasta bowls for Emilia Ceramics (and myself). I found just that with these bowls made by Gialletti Giulio in Deruta, Italy. We have the more traditional Deruta patterns in matching dinner and salad plates, but I love the subtlety of these stylish bowls. They’ll improve upon even the best Spaghetti alla Carbonara!
stack_of_pasta_bowls

Looking for the ultimate gifts for pasta lovers? Check out these ideas from Emilia Ceramics:
Italian Platters >>
Colorful Bowls >>
Italian Dishes >>
Majolica >>

 

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Design Love: Black and White Vases

This week I am excited to talk about one of my all time favorites – black and white vases. The simple, yet stylish color combination is all the rage these days. Whether in fashion, art, interior design, home décor, or weddings, I’m always bound to ooh and ahh over black and white arrangements. One simple and fun way to incorporate black and white design into your home décor is to use black and white vases. The strategic use of black and white vases is a must – you are guaranteed to look fashion-forward and chic, after all black and white goes with just about anything! Pair with your favorite set of flowers and your set.

Here are some fun ways to incorporate gorgeous black and white vases into your home:

1. Use a pop of color!

Bright floral colors look striking against a black and white vase – Pair together to give a sophisticated, fun look that is sure to pop and be the spotlight of attention! Here are some of my favorite color combinations:


yellow_roses
Image from Into the Bright (http://into-the-bright.blogspot.com/)

black_white_chevron_tulips
Image from Into the Bright (http://into-the-bright.blogspot.com/)

black_white_striped_vase
Image from House on the Way (http://www.houseontheway.com/)

2. Keep it Simple

One of the beauties of black and white is it’s classic presence, which never goes out of style. You can spice up your home décor in a matter of minutes with the use of a black and white vase! I love to put a black and white vase on a table, mantle, or dresser to give the room flavor and a bit of edge. I especially cannot get enough of this gorgeous hot pink floral paired with a black and white vase mantle setup by Stephanie Sterjovski – Home décor has never looked so stunning.

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black_white_vase_1
Images from SS Life + Style (http://www.stephaniesterjovski.com/)

3. Arrange a Gorgeous Centerpiece

The next time you’re having people over for dinner or drinks, place a black and white vase on your table for a beautiful décor arrangement. No matter your color scheme, the gorgeous stripes and florals will provide a stylish and sophisticated backdrop, guaranteeing compliments throughout the evening. Here are some of my favorite black and white vases from Emilia Ceramics:

round_vase_black_stripe_2short_black_striped_vasespecial_vase_black_stripe_2black_zigzag_vase

Images from Emilia Ceramics (http://emiliaceramics.com/)

What are some of your favorite ways to use black and white? Tell us in the comments below!

roses_1

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Always a Popular Statement: Black and White Ginger Jars

black and white ginger jar

Do we ever tire of the classic and sophisticated combination of black and white? I think not. And, when it comes to incorporating this contemporary color combination into your home decor, there is nothing more versatile than ginger jars!

Let’s explore some black and white ginger jars and how you can add them, no matter what your style.

On a Patio

Extra Large Black Chevron Ginger Jar. Available for purchase >>

A patio filled with colorful blooms is the perfect place to add a black and white ginger jar. This extra large black and white zigzag tibor is a great example — the chevron pattern adds a modern and stylish look, whether displayed prominently in the living room or on the patio.

With Your Favorite Things

black and white ginger jar

Black Chevron Ginger Jar. Available for purchase >>
(Image from http://madebygirl.blogspot.com)

I love how Made By Girl added this Large Black Ginger Jar to a display of other unique pieces. The simplicity of it all creates a stunning montage of textures and visual interest.

As a Lamp (or Two)

Black_Chevron_Lamps

Black Chevron Ginger Jar Lamps. Available for purchase >>

What can be more sophisticated than two bold black and white ginger jar lamps in your entry way? The space above was designed by Meredith Beregovski of Georgia Street Design in Charlotte, NC. It’s a stunning representation of how you can decorate with black and white ginger jars.

Combined

black and white ginger jars

Black and White Ginger Jars. Available for purchase >>

ZigZags are not the only black and white ginger jars we love. Stripes and florals, especially when combined, can also add drama to a space. These ginger jars would be a great addition to a more relaxed, yet modern home. Display them together prominently on the shelf or fill one with a large bouquet of flowers.

No matter how you incorporate them, they’re sure to add a whole new layer of style and sophistication to your home!

shop for ginger jars

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Unusual Utensil Holders: Kitchen Style Gone Wild!

Limoni Wine Bottle or Utensil Holder

What are people using to hold their essential kitchen utensils these days? From coffee cans to a Tuscan utensil holder, the ways to hold those wooden spoons and spatulas are vast and varied. Here are some of my favorites, from wacky to classy: which suits your kitchen style best?

Upcycled Utensil Holders

Utensil holder

Source: www.kitchendesigns.com

Creative reuse is a way to definitely make a statement on the kitchen counter. Tarnished silverware mixes with glass and metal on this unique utensil holder featured on the Kitchen Designs blog. The patina means this is one piece of silver you’ll never need to polish. Slices of old pipe get a new lease on life courtesy of PaulaArt on Etsy with utensil holders like this that are something more than just industrial chic.

Tacky and Wacky Utensil Holders

yellow utensil holder

Source: wwww.mutationmachine.com

Sometimes you have to just go kitsch. This yellow Tiki utensil holder fits the bill, though I can’t decide if it’s fabulous or horrifying. The rooster in a chef’s hat featured on Jeri’s Organizing & Decluttering News is also another example of kitsch in action (it’s #5 on her list of 15 utensil holders.)

 

Country Classic Utensil Holders

Limoni Wine Bottle  or Utensil Holder

Source: www.EmiliaCeramics.com

French and Tuscan country design extends all the way to utensil holders. Fruits are a favorite motif, giving Tuscan utensil holders a charm that’s more than just rustic. Another of my favorites is the blue rooster Tuscan utensil holder – he’s definitely fun from sunup to sundown.

Ceramic Utensil Holders

blue zigzag utensil holder

Source: www.EmiliaCeramics.com

Solid and easy to load up, ceramic utensil holders are another consistent favorite. Six of the utensil holders on Jeri’s list are ceramic, in a wide variety of styles. The Tuscan utensil holders by Tuscia d’Arte are a perfect example of this type. I’ve also had customers purchase wine bottle holders to use to corral the kitchen counter. One paired a blue and white striped holder with a blue and white zigzag one for utensil holders with modern flair that can hold everything a cook needs; such an ingenuous idea! You could do the same with a Tuscan vase, just make sure it won’t tip over.

Clever Cans

Source: Bree Bailey

Sometimes simplicity is all that’s needed. A friend of mine has collected cookie tins and other cans from countries she’s lived in like Greece and France to create utensil holders (as well as pen holders on her desk) that remind her of her travels. A vintage coffee can like this one below is another unique touch. You can always decorate a can, either with magazine photos in a collage (à la your resident 6 year old) or with this more sophisticated DIY from Better Homes and Gardens that looks like something you’d find at a design store.

Modular Utensil Holders

modular utensil set

Source: www.GeekAlerts.com

With everything else becoming more and more streamlined, why not your cooking essentials as well? This set by Geek Alerts has one handle, with many different attachments, designed to take up minimal counter space (though I think it would be hard to cook multiple things at once without multiple handles). Other minimal utensil holders just hold a few items, leaving your counter-top clear for other items.

What utensil holder style speaks to you? Modern, DIY, Tuscan utensil holders, vases, or something else?

Explore Utensil Holders Here

 

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Last Minute Summer Party Ideas

I cannot believe it’s already August! As far as I’m concerned, it’s finally starting to feel like summer. And since I don’t have to go back to school, I figure why not enjoy the warm weather and stretch out the relaxed summer vibe a bit longer! Below I’ve come up with a few ideas for no-fuss summer entertaining (all built around a summer beverage) that feel right at home in August… or September.

taco_party

Since ceramics always play a big part in my own party planning, I created a special section of the Emilia Ceramics website with pieces that are perfect for warm-weather entertaining. Check out all the ideas for Summer Parties here >>

It all begins with a beverage

Summer parties are fun in so many ways (think swimming pools, burgers, warm nights, beautiful sunsets, croquet and corn hole) but one of the best parts is the ice cold beverage in your hand during all those activities. Everybody has their favorite, but these three drinks are crowd-pleasers that don’t require much work. What I like best is that whichever drink you choose, you can then plan an entire party around it. Of course, you might still need to offer some beer and Pinot Grigio (for the less adventurous) but these drinks really do make the party.

mexican_dishes

Margaritaville.

My favorite margarita is a strong margarita. Here’s a great recipe for a strong pitcher of margaritas that you can make ahead and then serve to your guests upon request. If you’ve chosen the margarita as your party drink, you’ve clearly got a party theme ready to go. Everyone loves a taco bar where they can load theirs just as they like it. Add some chips and guacamole, displayed beautifully on a few Mexican serving platters and your party is complete.

More Ideas: Celebrating Mexican Pottery with an ‘Indian Summer Taco Party’

cheese_plates

Bubbly.

Nothing elevates a party like Champagne. But Prosecco (the Italian version) and Cava (the Spanish version) are just as tasty and often less expensive. If this is a fancy Champagne-inspired party, dress up your buffet table as well. One of my favorite tricks is having dishware at various heights, like serving cheese and crackers on a footed platter, that’s arranged stylishly next to square plates and oval dishes. The variation is pleasing to the eye and ensures that all your party snacks stand out.

More Ideas: Check out this pinterest photo of a wheelbarrow filled with bubbly!

footed_serving_bowl footed_platter_side_2

Good Ol’ G&T.

Nothing says summer like an ice-cold Gin and Tonic (with lots of fresh lime). It’s so easy, yet oh so satisfying. Gin and Tonics remind me of my mom (she loves them), which then makes me think of her mom and the type of summer entertaining my grandmother probably did 50 years ago. I think of fun, old-fashioned finger foods, like cucumber sandwiches, deviled eggs, pigs in a blanket, and crab dip. While these might sound slightly more labor intensive, they’re really all prepped in advance, leaving you to enjoy the party, Gin and Tonic in hand! I picture that my grandmother would have loved serving appetizers from this fun Spanish dish: Caracol Serving Platter.

Are you planning any more summer soirees? What’s your theme… and your drink of choice? If you need inspiration, check out our ideas for Summer Parties or our Party Planning Pinterest Board.

french_plattersausages

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5 Tips for Adding Blue and White Ceramics to Your Home

Blue and white looks sharp no matter where it’s found. A classic color combination in home décor, blue and white kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms have a timeless appeal. I’ve always been a fan of blue and white (and have the Pinterest board to prove it), and I am not alone. Blue and white ceramics rank consistently as top sellers for a variety of homes and uses. So what are some great ways to incorporate blue and white ceramics into your home décor?

Here are five tips for instant blue and white style.

blue and white ceramics

Use unexpected containers

Instead of a change jar, why not make coins look like part of your design with a blue and white ceramic bowl? Arranged on an end table, bowls or serving platters also hold everything from candles to a miniature rock garden. I even have a friend who considers this platter her “remote control keeper.”

Mix style with functionality

I think when it comes to blue and white ceramics the more uses, the better. A large blue and white pitcher is the perfect example. Use it to hold ice water, wine, or fresh squeezed mimosas for a weekend brunch. It can be a dramatic centerpiece (empty or full) on a dinner table, or hold a bouquet of fresh flowers on a kitchen sill or countertop. A mix of rustic and modern, pitchers like this are perfect in almost every home.

Go for the walls

Hang blue and white plates, shallow bowls, and serving platters when not in use in your kitchen or dining room. I’ve even seen wallpaper patterned with blue and white ceramics for a two-dimensional take on this idea.

Make snacks attractive

Food just tastes better when it’s presented well, so create appetizing snack options on your kitchen or dining table with carefully chosen ceramics. Blue and white platters hold mini snack bags of trail mix, nuts, or other healthy options for on-the-go bites while a large blue and white bowl brimming with fresh fruit makes it hard to resist.

Mix patterns

Keeping in the same color palette lets you explore fun textures and patterns. In the bedroom, mix a striped carpet with a printed duvet or chair, adding a feeling of depth and luxury to the room. A blue and white ceramic lamp or two, cozy throws, and eclectic pillows further the pattern play.

What’s your favorite use of blue and white decor? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Shop Blue and White Ceramics here.

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ZigZag Love: Chevron Utensil Holders & ZigZag Vases

zigzag vase orange

We recently ran a Facebook poll to find out whether our fans prefer zigzags or stripes and the resounding winner was zigzags! The zigzag pattern is showing up everywhere, from dresses to accent chairs and everywhere in between. Adding the chevron motif instantly updates your style.

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Not sure zigzags are for you? Get in on the trend without the major commitment by sprinkling in a few chevron patterned home accessories. Here are a few to choose from:

ZigZag Utensil Holders

No need to overhaul your entire kitchen, this is an easy addition that will perfectly compliment your existing kitchen decor. Whether you choose to use this zigzag vessel as a wine bottle holder or utensil holder, it will combine casual Mexican style with functionality. It may also be used as a contemporary flower vase. Choose from black, blue or gray.

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blue zigzag utensil holder
gray zigzag utensil holder

See all our utensil holders here. 

You may also enjoy – Favorite DIY Utensil Holder Ideas that Look Fabulous

ZigZag Vases

These contemporary chevron vases make a statement whether filled with fresh flowers or just standing alone. They combine bold edginess with laid-back, Mexican charm. Available in black, orange and yellow.

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zigzag vase yellow

Take a look at all our vases here.

You may also enjoy – 3 Reasons to Love Mexican Vases

The chevron pattern can be infused just about anywhere you want to add visual interest. Depending on the width of the zigzags and their colors, the chevron motif can offer a big impact to a room or a more subtle statement. More chevron-patterned ideas include ginger jar lamps, zigzag lampshades, vases, bowls, trays and planters. There are also tons of diy projects for creating your own chevron decor, all you need is a little paint and tape. Paint zigzags on accessories, the drawer fronts of a dresser, even on the eaves of your staircase. Get inspiration from our Everything Chevron Pinterest board.

zigzag cta

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Bridal Registry Etiquette

Weddings are a wonderful opportunity for couples to celebrate their marriage with the people they love the most. Though traditions vary from culture to culture, it is commonplace for the bride and groom to receive gifts from their family and friends that will help them start their lives together. The idea behind the bridal registry is offering family and friends a guide as to what newlyweds really want and need. As wedding traditions have changed over the years, so has bridal registry etiquette. Here’s our quick guide for soon-to-be married couples.

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Today’s Registry Etiquette

The engaged couple should decide on what they would like as gifts and register for items they plan to actually use. They should register as soon as a wedding date is set, but at least before any bridal shower invitations are sent out.

The old tradition of registering for china, crystal, silver and small appliances has often been replaced by more practical items, including honeymoon expenses and home down-payments. Asking for cash donations like these is known as a “honey fund” registry. This is considered acceptable etiquette since guests are contributing to the couple’s future, but it’s good to combine a “honey fund” with at least a few traditional registry items. Many people don’t like to give money and they will buy physical gifts whether the couple has registered for them or not.

A registry keeps track of purchases to avoid duplication and lets you which of your selected items are being bought. Use an online service or department store that is easy to access for traditional gifts. Most department stores have an online registry and they will deliver gifts ordered online anywhere in the U.S.

In the past, registry etiquette required a couple to register at only one or two stores. With wedding websites that link directly to registries, however, it’s now commonplace to have multiple registries. There is no longer a rule for how many stores you can include, which means a couple can register for a variety of items specific to their individual styles and needs. For example, one couple might include a registry at a department store for linens, an outdoor store for camping equipment, and a boutique type store for special pieces.

Select items you would like, but be aware of the cost. Proper registry etiquette is to choose a range of gifts at different prices. Everyone has a different budget for wedding gifts and it’s nice to give your friends and family a variety of options. Expensive imported crystal and china may not be in your friends’ budgets, so be sure there are plenty of options at all price levels.

Registry information should never appear on the wedding invitation. These days, most couples create a wedding website with information about the event. This is a great place to list your registries and you can link directly to the individual stores where you have created a bridal registry. This also helps people who are invited to showers or engagement parties and want to bring a gift. Everything is in the same place and it allows your guests to give generously, at a comfortable price point, without a lot of effort.

Friends and family want to help you start your new life together and a thoughtful bridal registry is a great way to help everyone enjoy the gift-giving experience.

Check out our Top Bridal Registry Tips here.

wedding registry

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Celebrating Mexican Pottery with an ‘Indian Summer Taco Party’

While I enjoyed the “real” winter in Colorado last year, I am having a lot of trouble letting go of summer. Lucky for me, it has been practically perfect weather for the last week in Boulder. Like mid-60s to mid-70s, sun shining and just a few wispy clouds. Plus, the leaves are changing making for a super vibrant color spectrum of yellow, orange, and blue. In honor of this beautiful weather — and the impending cold, dark months to come — I decided to host a little taco party. I kept it pretty simple, focusing on fresh guacamole, carne asada tacos, and refreshing coin style margaritas.

I decided to make this party about celebrating Mexican pottery as well as great Mexican food (and lovely warm weather). I think I spent more time picking out the serving dishes, plates, bowls, and glassware than I did preparing the food! What I came up with was a color pallet that matched the scenery outside: warm oranges and yellows set against crisp blues and whites. These pieces fit the season and they made the food look delicious. Here are a few photos from the evening:

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Here’s a link to all the Mexican pottery featured at my taco party >>

While the “Agua” Cups and Pitcher are actually from Spain, I thought they added a fun and fitting touch for serving and drinking water. I always reach for the El Mar Platter and matching Serving Plate when I want interesting shapes, a subtle color pallet, and a decorative but not distracting pattern. To that I added the La Mexicana Dinner Plates and Dip Bowls (I love this classic pattern from Gorky Gonzalez). Of course I opted for a few bright pops of color, with the rich Pumpkin Bowls and Dinner Plates, the Cucumber Long Platter with Floral Relief and bright orange cotton napkins. The table was super colorful and the food was delicious! I think I definitely achieved my goal of celebrating Mexican pottery and paying tribute to what’s officially my new favorite season: Indian Summer.

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The Real Deal: How to Find Authentic Deruta and Spot Fakes

Deruta ceramics are justly famous. Their rich colors and intricate patterns also make this Italian ceramic style one of the most copied. Today seemingly every store sells Deruta and Italian style dinnerware, but most of it is not actually from Italy. So how can you avoid fake Deruta and get the real stuff?

Deruta ceramics

Buy handmade Italian ceramics

Many of the “Deruta-inspired” ceramics are labeled as such, but not all. Of course there are plenty of beautiful Italian handmade ceramics from other regions than Deruta. If a piece hasn’t been made by hand, it isn’t real Deruta majolica. Price can be an obvious give-away. If the price of a platter or pitcher seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Look for the mark

Genuine handmade Deruta should have a maker’s signature on the bottom of the piece, whether it was made this year or in the 1500s. This mark will often say the country of origin along with the name of the studio. Some pieces will even have the artist’s name or initials.

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Check out the glaze

Authentic handpainted ceramics have an unglazed foot at the bottom. This ring will look and feel slightly rough to the touch, like in the photo above. If a ceramic is completely glazed, including the foot, it’s likely been painted by a machine. Handpainted glaze will also have slight variations in thickness that you can feel.

Learn about pattern types

Deruta majolica has a fair number of named, traditional patterns. Some standouts: Raffaellesco (look for the dragon), Galletto (look for the rooster), Arabesco (inspired by Persian calligraphy), and Ricco Deruta (based on stylized wheat-shafts and scrolls used by early Romans).

raffaelesco deruta
All are characterized by intricate details and rich colors. Deruta artists also create their own pattern variations, making for lots of options (sometimes too many!). Get familiar with what’s available, then mix and match to your heart’s content.

Find the brushstrokes and crazing

Even the most experienced artists have visible brushstrokes on their ceramics. Deruta’s intricate patterns can make these a little hard to see, but any large section of color will have visible variations. You’ll also likely see slight variations in the pattern from piece to piece. Any older Italian majolica ceramics will have crazing, little hairlines in the glaze, a natural result of the aging process. Be suspicious of anything that looks too perfect.

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Ask about the artists

Deruta’s artists made the region famous for majolica in the 1600s. If you can find out about the studio where the ceramics were made, you’ll be less likely to end up with something manufactured on an assembly line elsewhere.

 

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Labor Day Party Ideas: Time for White Platters

The fashion rule that you can’t wear white after Labor Day is meant to be broken. Yet this holiday is frequently a mark of summer’s end and fall’s beginning. School’s back in session and the grill will shortly go back into storage. So make Labor Day a time to relax with friends and family with these easy outdoor party ideas.

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Classic BBQ

Grill hamburgers, hot dogs, or choice steaks. Serve with plenty of sides: potato salad, coleslaw, fruits of the season, and chips and dip. Arrange toppings (sliced cheese, onions, tomatoes, bacon strips, pickle slices, lettuce) for your meats on a large white serving platter for maximum appeal and easy access. Sick of hamburgers? Make this party low-key by marinating chicken the night before for high flavor and limited prep day-of. Whatever you serve, an easy menu will help make the fun last into the evening.

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Potluck Picnic

Collaborative parties mean all you need as the host is serving dishes and a place for them to rest. Divvy up foods so that designated people bring apps, entrées, sides, desserts, and drinks. Or throw caution to the wind and end up with an accidental dessert picnic. Large plates at the start and cutlery in cans or jars at the end makes for an easy buffet line indoors or out. Set up drinks at another station for better traffic flow with groups over 10 people. A few white platters can help corral similar food items together visually.

white platter

Skewer Party

A mix of the traditional bbq and potluck, everyone brings their favorite skewer ingredients. Chop meat into square chunks and veggies thick so they don’t fall off. Put a bunch of wooden skewers into water to soak the night before and you’re ready to go. Have different colored platters for constructed skewers and cooked ones to avoid cross contamination. Here white platters filled with grilled delights look great with sides and salads in bowls. This party idea is great for families with small children; they’ll enjoy constructing skewers as well as pulling off the cooked results. Check out these combinations in a simple-to-follow graphic, including marinades, for inspiration.

skewers on the grill

Grill image courtesy Robert S. Donovan via Compfight cc.

Picnic spread image courtesy Josh Liba via Compfight cc.

Skewer image courtesy joshbousel via Compfight cc.

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3 Reasons to Love Mexican Vases

My collection of Talavera Vazquez Mexican vases is threatening to take over my apartment. The large, crazy bouquets Martin brings me look great in my blue and white striped vase. Smaller arrangements that I can’t resist find the perfect home in the green and white vase usually found on my desk. Given my general vase addiction, Mexican vases remain my favorites. Here are three reasons you’ll love them too:

1. Effortless art and accents

Mexican vases don’t need flowers to be eye-catching. From Capelo’s large statement-makers to smaller offerings from Talavera Vazquez, there’s a Mexican vase that’s perfect for any nook, shelf, or other surface. For a quick change of mood, I mix an empty vase or two into my collection of flower pots in the window; suddenly the entire space looks rejuvenated. The subtle hand-painted details on these ceramics mean they rarely get tucked away out of sight. Art was never so easy.

green vase with daffodils

2. Color when you need it, monochrome when you don’t

Mexican vases’ range of vibrant colors appeals to my bright, bold aesthetic. But sometimes the occasion calls for black and white, not bright yellow or orange. Luckily, rich detail doesn’t get sacrificed with more subdued color palettes. Just look at this incredible black and white vase and you’ll see what I mean.

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3. No flower gets left behind

I’m always on the outlook for new blooms, but not every vase compliments every flower. Delicate arrangements get dwarfed to overly large vases while big and tall sunflowers, lilies, and hydrangeas quickly overwhelm smaller vases. Flower arranging by vase is complicated, but the opaque ceramics in a variety of sizes means that Mexican vases can fill practically every flower need that arises.

mexican vase with flowers

Why do you love Mexican vases? Leave your reason in a comment below.

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Blue and White Mexican Pottery for All Seasons


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Whether it’s hot or cold outside, blue and white Mexican pottery is always a great compliment to the season. What are your favorites?

Blue and white Mexican pottery platters for fall

As temperatures drop, platters become essential for entertaining. Football games and Thanksgiving beg for platters full of delicious, hot dishes. The handles on this blue and white Mexican serving dish make it ideal for transporting that turkey or roast to the table so that everyone can enjoy the bounty. Smaller platters handle breads, vegetables, and other sides to complete the feast.

Blue and white Mexican pottery mugs for winter

Brrrrr, it’s cold outside. Time for a mug of hot chocolate! And what could be better than Gorky’s signature oversized blue and white mug after playing in the snow? Even where the temperatures aren’t frightful, blue and white Mexican pottery mugs provide some cheer for this festive season.

large blue and white mug

Blue and white Mexican pottery planters for spring

Finally, here comes the sun! Get ready to welcome warmer temperatures with some greenery inside and out. Start your seedlings in a small blue and white planter covered with plastic; you’ll be ready to plant as soon as the ground thaws. Green houseplants that stay inside year around look even more lush against these colors. Think of it as spring cleaning with less cleaning.

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Blue and white Mexican pottery vases for summer

Flowers hit their peak in the summer months, whether tulips early in the season or roses into the fall. Blue and white vases bring a cool, fresh note to your home. Instead of giant bouquets, try simple arrangements with just a few blooms in the slim blue and white Mexican vase.tulips_striped_vase

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Blue and White Ceramic Flower Pots

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Some people are surprised to learn that planters or flower pots are some of the most popular items we sell at Emilia Ceramics. Personally, I believe this is because it’s difficult to find unique options for flower pots (which also explains why our lamps are so popular). As opposed to vases and soup bowls, there are really only a few ways to go if you’re looking to dress up your patio or garden with new flower pots. Here’s a run-down of my personal favorites:

1. Classic Terracotta Flower PotsScreen Shot 2014-08-05 at 4.22.31 PM

I’m a big fan of simple, large terracotta planters. They feel rustic and remind me of my favorite gardens in Italy, France, and places closer to home like Napa Valley and Carmel-by-the-Sea. The soft terracotta color doesn’t compete with flowers, but instead allows them to take center stage. These ceramic flower pots are more like a nice frame for the plants they hold. (The photo at the right shows the gardens at Poterie Ravel in Southern France).

2. Bright Blue Flower Pots

I also like the effect created by bright blue ceramic flower pots. I’ve seen a lot of these recently on front porches in Boulder. They are super cheerful and work like a colorful backdrop for flowers. In fact, I think they look the best filled with more subtle plants, like wispy greens and small white flowers. If you’re a color-person, but need a more affordable option, these are a great way to go… Look for these flower pots at Pier 1 or your local nursery.

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3. Personality-Packed Flower Pots

Of course, the blue and white ceramic flower pots we sell at Emilia Ceramics are my favorites! As with other pieces, I am always drawn to unique shapes, like the Square Planter with Blue Stripes by Talavera Vazquez. Another favorite for large plants is the Round Paloma Planter – its authentic shape and style add instant hacienda flavor to any patio or porch.

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If Mexican flower pots are a bit too festive for your taste, I would recommend the more subtle planters by Richard Esteban. These evoke Richard’s famous French country charm. And the teal blue glaze he uses makes any plant or flower look amazing.

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For inside blooms, Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia really delivers. Their ceramic flower pots, in a variety of traditional Italian patterns, are great for adding elegance to the kitchen or dining room. Whether you set a few small 4″ plants in an oval planter or fill a large round planter with an elegant fern or flowering hydrangea, they will dress up your home in an instant. (These planters are fine outside too, they just don’t have holes in the bottom so they are especially well-suited for indoors).

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I guess it’s really not that shocking that we sell a lot of blue and white ceramic flower pots at Emilia Ceramics. After all, they have both personality and purpose!

 

 

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5 Beautiful Ways to Decorate with Ginger Jars

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Ginger jars, known as urns or tibores (as they are called in Mexico), are more than the latest decorating trend. In fact, ginger jars have a long and rich history stemming back to the Qin Dynasty (221 BC–207 BC). Though originally used to ship and store spices, herbs and oils, ginger jars have slowly become a home décor must-have, and why not? Ginger jars are beautiful, versatile and practical, too.

If you are looking for ways to decorate with ginger jars, here are some of my personal favorite ideas.

Flower Arrangements

Bright colors and beautiful designs make for a lovely backdrop to your favorite flowers. Replace your regular glass vase with a ginger jar and you’ll add instant style to your home décor.

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Get the look with the Small Paloma Tibor by Talavera Vazquez

Lovely Lamps

Lamps are a wonderful way to showcase your favorite ginger jar. Use it on your bedside table, next to your sofa or anywhere in your home where you’d like to add a pop of color.

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Get the look with a ginger jar lamp like the Small Yellow ZigZag Lamp by Talavera Vazquez

Dining Room Table

Oversized dining room tables simply beg to be dressed up. Gather coordinating ginger jars, fill a few with flowers and voila! An instantly elegant table-scape.

decorate with ginger jars
Get the look by mixing and matching similarly colored ginger jars

Entry Table

The first things your guests will notice when they visit your home will be your entry table. Use ginger jars as your “welcoming committee.” For a bold and beautiful first impression, cluster similarly colored or styled pieces together.

decorate with ginger jars
Get the look with the Small Burnt Orange Striped Tibor and the Burnt Orange ZigZag Tibor

Color Coordinated

If you’re a newby to decorating with ginger jars, a fun way to introduce them to your home decor is by sprinkling in accent pieces that are well-coordinated with your design colors.

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Get the look with this Yellow Striped Tibor.

When you decorate with ginger jars, you add elegance, fun, and color in a way that your friends will envy.

Which ginger jars are your favorites?

Here is the ginger jar I am currently lusting over…. 

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Celebrate 4th of July with Red, Blue and White Dishes

July 4th is almost here and I’ve discovered a slew of recipes perfect for this summer holiday. I will admit an aversion to blue-colored food (yes, besides blueberries!), so it’s time to game out which blue and white dishes I will fill with delicious treats for barbequing with friends this Friday. Which of these would you try?

4th of July cake

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Patriotic Drinks

I’m not really a beer person, so for me this raspberry fizz and red, white, and blue sparkling sangria nicely satisfy both non-alcoholic and boozy needs. These drinks also put fruit front and center, which is perfect with so many ripe berries available. This blueberry smash also looks divine, though it might be too labor intensive for a causal party drink. A lemon-ginger base that can become strawberry lemonade or a dark and stormy equally fast seems much more on track.

 

Blueberry desserts

It’s unlikely that any of my red fruit crumble will be left by Friday, but it would be wonderfully festive on blue and white dishes. I think I’ll stick with blueberry and strawberry combos to share. This list of red, white and blueberry recipes has a couple inspiring ideas like blueberry trifle and blueberry cobbler. I’m wary of the flag cupcakes, though they look great. Short on time? Grab some pound cake and make a delicious blueberry sauce. Done and done.

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Cool treats

Growing up, July 4th was always hot, hot, hot. Here in San Francisco we worry if there’ll be too much fog to see the fireworks, so there’s not quite the same imperative to make thirst-quenching delights for picnics. Still, a girl can dream, right? Paletas (a.k.a. popsicles but better) are always delicious and have infinite flavor combinations possible. Serve ones made with red fruits on blue and white dishes for maximum patriotic impact. This watermelon agua fresca makes for a cool drink or frozen treat, depending on your mood.

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Hmmm, looking this list over I see a definite sweet theme. That’s probably because I’m not responsible for the grill!

What will you be having on blue and white dishes to celebrate this holiday weekend? Leave a comment below as well as links to any recipes that I should test out this year.

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4th of July cake image courtesy mmatins.

Drink image courtesy Lori L. Stalteri.

Berry image courtesy ClatieK.

Watermelon image courtesy mynameisharsha.

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Where Ceramic Pitchers Meet Italian Style

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Italian country decor is truly timeless. Rustic, inviting, and always the perfect blend of function and beauty, it’s no surprise Italy inspires countless households outside of its borders. A Tuscan vase or little bowl on the table can invoke years of tradition to even the newest home. But the most versatile piece of Italian country decor? I give you the ceramic pitcher.

Think about it. Ceramic pitchers keep drinks cool and protect a table from drips, whether wine or water. Pour in a bottle of red wine about a half hour before your meal and even the least expensive table wine will greatly improve. Your pitcher just became a less-breakable wine decanter. A ceramic pitcher is also easier to pass around the table. Refill anyone?

ceramic pitcher

Nothing reminds me more of my time in Tuscany than a bouquet of wildflowers in a ceramic pitcher on a well-used, large wooden table. The embrace of natural beauty without artifice is relaxed and authentic. Using pitchers as vases also saves on storage space in your cabinets (bonus).

ceramic pitcher

Other ways to add the Italian touch to your dining experience? Italian hand painted plates showcase appetizers or desserts for a special touch. Try a ceramic salad bowl to serve your salad at the end of the meal like they do in Italy instead of at the beginning. Serving plates piled high with delicious food, little bowls filled with olives, and a Tuscan vase on the sideboard: your Italian feast is complete.

Tuscan vases
What are your favorite examples of Italian country decor?

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Surprising Salt & Pepper Sets, from Vintage to DIY

Beloved by collectors and food-eaters alike, salt & pepper sets come in a stunning variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. So I thought we’d take a look at some of the more notable salt & pepper ideas from the past and present.

 vintage salt & pepper sets

Vintage sets range from the mundane to the truly whimsical; I particularly love the smiling ears of corn in this collection.

 salt & pepper sets

Vintage shakers from the late 1800s go in a completely different direction. These ornate silver salt & pepper sets and massive salt cellars give just a taste of high-class dining during the fin de siècle. They would look right at home in Downton Abbey, don’t you think?

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But salt pepper shakers can do much more than just hold familiar spices. Offbeat Bride recommends using ceramic salt and pepper shakers as wedding cake toppers. Great idea since you can then actually use them as a daily reminder of your wedding.

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Another way to repurpose glass salt & pepper sets? Turn them into bud vases; these would look lovely along a windowsill or as table decorations.

salt & pepper shaker bud vase

Glass shakers also can be turned into mini-terrariums for the small-scale gardener.

glass salt & pepper shaker terrariums

Do you have a particularly impressive salt pepper shaker collection? Is there a particular theme, like with these blue & white salt & pepper shakers?

 blue & white salt & pepper shakers

Let us know your favorite kinds and check out our Pinterest board for more of our favorite salt & pepper sets, both modern and vintage.

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The Best Decorative Dinner Plates for Summer Dining: 3 Tips

Summertime means incredible fresh fruits and vegetables, grilling adventures, and leisurely outdoor dining with friends and family. Even if you’re not planning to eat every meal outside this summer, it’s the perfect time to embrace playful motifs that celebrate the season. Bring on the bright colors and interesting textures!

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Looking for the best decorative dinner plates for your summer meals? Here are three rules to follow when updating your table this season:

1. Matching is so yesterday. It’s really true: plates and bowls don’t need to match. Mix up your classic dishware sets with square plates, oblong bowls, and other unusual shapes. Highlight that incredible dessert by serving it on distinct plates from the rest of the meal. The eclectic vibe will make your meals feel more relaxed and personal.

 rectangle serving platter

2. Color rules. Have at least two colors in your dishware sets; the variety makes even the most ordinary weekday meal feel more fun. If working from a base of white plates and bowls, mix in colorful serving or salad plates. Bold reds, cool blues, bright greens, brilliant yellows – there are no wrong answers. Patterns are also an excellent way to incorporate texture and more color without getting too crazy.

decorative dinner plate - orange stripeyellow dinner plate

3. Avoid plastic plates and cutlery. Nothing ruins that gorgeous masterpiece from the grill quicker than trying to cut it with a flimsy knife. The same goes for having your plate fly away in the wind. Unless you’re carrying your dishware multiple miles on a camping trip, take the time to use decorative dinner plates and solid silverware. The guests at your next barbeque will thank you.

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Need some ideas for what to serve on your decorative dinner plates and tableware sets that is suitable for summer? Check out Emilia Ceramic’s Pinterest boards for delicious recipes and ways to entertain as the days get longer.

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How (and Where) Does Your Garden Grow?

I spent last weekend coveting a garden of my very own after trimming lavender and picking lemons in the backyard of some friends. Although my current apartment life doesn’t include a place for fruit trees, I have managed to actually get herbs to start this year. Visions of summertime basil bounty are dancing in my head.

pallet herb garden

Thinking about gardening this summer but not sure if you have the space? Apartment Therapy’s five small vegetable garden ideas are definitely a good place to start. Vertical gardens – like this pallet garden or a collection of pottery wall planters – mean that you don’t need to do much bending over in the dirt. Raised beds require some more square footage, but it’s definitely possible to pack a salad’s worth of vegetables into just a few square feet. Container gardens can be made out of practically anything, though currently I’m sticking to colorful planters and window boxes. And if you’re just starting out with growing things, lettuce or some herbs in your windowsill are perfect. Or maybe sunflowers? I’m going to give ’em a try, see what happens.

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Of course, for those blessed with space for a larger garden than my windowsill, you have more options. Colorful flowers add life to patios and porches, especially when kept in blue and white planters. Sunset Magazine suggests snapdragons, calendula, nemesia, and more for colorful containers. Looking for tasty summer feasts? Dig into the wonders of tomato plants, basil, squash, and whatever other vegetables you find yourself reaching for at the market.

french market

One note if starting plants from seeds: take the time to sprout them inside first, then move outdoors whenever recommended for planting in your area. I’ve had success starting basil this spring with the help of a plastic bag over the small pot. It lets enough air circulate so that seeds don’t mold while keeping everything moist. Here’s my second batch of basil just starting to set out tiny shoots.basil seedlings

If you want immediate gratification, find small plants at your local nursery. I’m definitely happy with my impulse buy of lemon thyme a few weeks ago. And doesn’t it look great in that zig zag planter? Maybe I’ll find a blue and white planter for my next herb batch… and start looking into making some more vertical space with pottery wall planters.

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No matter what you’re growing this year, happy planting!

Pallet garden image via DIY Show Off.

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Let’s Talk Home Decor

I’ve never had a house of my own… but I’ve had a few apartments, first in San Francisco and now in Boulder, CO. The styles of the apartments have differed quite a bit, but wherever I live, I try to put my own personal stamp on the space pretty quickly. It’s the best way to feel ‘at home’ when nothing else in life feels familiar.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what my personal style really is, as I troll through my favorite design websites and blogs and find myself coveting certain houses, rooms, and remodels I see displayed around the internet. I am definitely drawn to home decor that mixes art and color (I guess that’s pretty obvious if you’ve seen my website!). Here are a few pics from a really cool house in New Orleans, where they’ve perfectly layered fun artistic finds with bold colors to create a homey, welcoming, yet cheerful living space.

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I love the turquoise chairs! They’re so inviting and yet so unexpected and original. In a similar vein, I think this blue couch (below) is amazing. I love the old-fashioned flair it lends to an otherwise modern room. It’s this sort of eclectic style that really draws me in.

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In my living spaces, I often use oil paintings (my mom is an amazing landscape artist), photography from my travels, and of course, ceramic artwork to provide that colorful, yet contemporary and totally personal feel. Really, any favorite piece of art works well. These cheerful accessories have the power to transform a new house into a home that feels lived in, loved, and super inviting. Some examples:

I love these fun whale bookends! So unique:

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This Italian Lamp is colorful, yet sophisticated. It’s functional artwork at its finest:

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Here, a Chevron Ginger Jar is used to add personality, depth, and a hand-crafted touch to an otherwise plain white corner.

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Kids artwork is another great way to add color and personality to your walls:

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Which Blue and White Vase Celebrates Spring the Best?

I always like to have some fresh flowers in the Emilia Ceramics Showroom, especially now that spring is here. And it often turns out that I use one of many blue and white vases to display these bouquets. The only question is, which vase to use when? Add in tall blue and white ginger jars, the options only grow. Here’s a roundup of flowers and vases to best celebrate spring. Which are your favorites?

Smaller blooms with sturdy stalks do best in short round vases. Think muscari (grape hyacinths) and anemones; they will lean gracefully to balance the vase shape. Blue and white vases are a good choice here to compliment the bold hues of these vivid flowers.

blue and white round vase

For long-stem flowers such as tulips and daffodils, tall column vases are ideal. The shape echoes how these plants naturally grow, supporting the bursts of red, yellow, and orange. Tall vases are also a good pick for mixed bouquets, particularly when in a complimentary color to the flowers themselves.

Spring also means that bulbs are finally blooming. Medium curved vases set off paperwhites and the long-lasting ranunculus beautifully. Another pleasure of the season are bulb vases where you can grow the flowers in a sunny window. Just make sure these vases have adequate drainage for best results.

paperwhites

ranunculus

Finally, large blooms require large statement vases. Tall blue and white ginger jars pair with freesia and forsythia, enhancing the yellow flowers. Large format vases also do well with other branches, such as pussy willow, and dried arrangements.

blue and white vaseblue and white pitcher

For a more casual flower arrangement, pitchers are an excellent choice. Place a blue and white pitcher on your table for spring holidays or tuck it into an unexpected nook for a seasonal splash of color.

Muscari image courtesy Jean-Jacques Boujot.

Paperwhite image courtesy billums.

Ranunculus image courtesy hurley.k.e.

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Decor Decadence: Polka Dot Dishes & Other Home Decor Inspired by @Couturecolorado

Polka dots add whimsy and charm, but they also have a sophisticated side. COUTUREcolorado’s recent post on polka dot interiors had everything from big polka dots to polka dot wallpaper to polka dot cushions and sheets. What’s there not to love?

Polka dot interiors

Subtle tonal variations, particularly with shades of gray, make for polka dots that intrigue instead of overwhelm in the home. There’s also the question of spacing: spaced-out dots whisper more than shout.

polka dot wall

Mixed with other patterns, polka dots are a definite favorite for home design aficionados for all rooms of the home. Gold polka dot pillows add causal elegance.

gold dot pillow

Polka dot wall art creates visual interest. Or just add polka dots to your existing walls with decals (no mess, no fuss?).

gold polka dot wall

And polka dot desk accessories? Major win.

polka dot notebook

Of course, some of my favorites remain polka dot dishes. How else could you bring the dot joy to your table? Polka dot bowls dress up party snacks or your daily breakfast cereal.

polka dot bowls

Personally, I’m in love with the mix of dots on Richard Esteban’s handmade plates. Layering dots with stripes and solid pieces feels lush and sophisticated; these are definitely ideal for mix and match fans.

polka dot dish And another of my favorite French artists, Sylvie Duriez, loves to incorporate colorful polka dots into her subtle work on plates and pitchers.

girls_waiting_plate
pink_polkadot_pitcher_3

How are you using polka dots in your home? Check out our polka dots on Pinterest for even more inspiration and share your favorites.

Polka dot collage image courtesy COUTUREcolorado. Other images via Pinterest.

black polka dot pitcher

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Why Talavera Vazquez Ginger Jars Remain Irresistible


Ginger jars
are a perpetual favorite for home accents. They range in size, color, and shape (and offer built in secret storage!)—what is there not to love? I particularly fancy the ginger jars by Talavera Vazquez. Their flair and verve definitely stand out from the rest. Stripes, chevrons, flowers, bold patterns… there’s something for everyone.

Need a reason to add ginger jars to your home? Why not try a ginger jar or two as:

Outdoor decor

Sturdy ginger jars work wonderfully on a patio or deck. Keep them empty or fill with cut flowers.

ginger jars on patio

Stylish bookends

Small ginger jars corral books and add color, especially bold Talavera Vazquez tibores.

ginger jars on shelves
ginger jars

Secret storage

In the past, ginger jars were used to transport ginger and other spices. You can use them to organize your desk or kitchen counter.

ginger jar on desk
talavera vazquez ginger jar

Dramatic flower vases

Large ginger jars perfectly accent long stemmed flowers, branches, and major arrangements.

ginger jar with flowers

 ginger jar with hydrangeas

Need more ginger jar inspiration? Check out the Emilia Ceramics ginger jar Pinterest board as well as the Talavera Vazquez collection, then join the ginger jar fun yourself. You won’t be able to resist.