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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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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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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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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.

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Above Photo: Between Naps on the Porch

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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.

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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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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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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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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.

backyard grill

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.

picnic spread

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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French Ceramics from Kiln to Table

Provence countryside France

Farm to table dining showcases the best tastes of the season, whether vine-ripe tomatoes or hearty greens. But in Provence, farm to table doesn’t just apply to food – just look at French ceramics! Rustic plates and dishware perfectly match local flavors, combining effortless French chic with a homegrown vibe.

Take Richard Esteban‘s tableware sets. His plates and bowls are a playful mix of motifs and patterns. Stripes, polka dots, animals, even race cars! I fell in love with these plates and bowls when dining with Richard and his family in France. Their outdoor table is typical; al fresco dining is de rigueur for the area when the weather is warm enough. I particularly loved the roaring outdoor fire and the sprawling tree that kept the table shady and cool on even the hottest days.

Outdoor dining at Aigues-Vives Provence

Richard Esteban plates and bowls

   Richard Esteban pottery

Like his farmer neighbors, Richard works with the land – though in his case, he harvests clay, not vegetables. This rich red clay body only shows on the bottom of his plates and bowls, though it’s the shining star of his new wine bottle holder. The vibrant mineral glazes also embody Richard and his team’s “kiln to table” philosophy, resulting in natural tones that are the perfect compliment to Provence’s rich, green countryside. The butter yellow base color for most of his plates makes these French ceramics easy to mix and match. Stack stripes with polka dots or mottos like vive le bon vin (long live good wine); the results are just as relaxed as Richard’s home and studio.

Richard Esteban pottery

Arnaud makes French ceramics

The rustic elegance of Richard Esteban’s French ceramics holds a certain je ne sais quoi that I think is uniquely French. Mix and match some decorative dinner plates, pour a bottle of wine in to a pitcher, slice up a baguette – see, you’re almost there yourself! Now enjoy a delicious meal, lingering to chat long after the food is finished for your very own Provence-inspired moment. Bon appétit!

French ceramic bowl

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Mother’s Day Celebration at the Boulder Showroom

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Last Saturday we celebrated moms at the Boulder Showroom. I was fortunate enough to have my mom fly in from California to help me prep for the party and join in the festivities. We bought lots of beautiful fresh flowers, rearranged a few of the shop displays, and even added two new tables: A round one dedicated to our Ethiopian Table Linens and French turquoise planters; And a low coffee table which I filled with stacks of Richard’s fun dinner and salad plates.

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It’s always more fun to clean and fix up the shop with company and my mom was a great help! She picked out her favorite pitcher by Sylvie Duriez for me to give her as a Mother’s Day gift — and of course added a few more pieces to her large collection of Gorky’s El Mar pieces. My mom is an expert gardener as well, so I put her to work planting my window boxes outside. (Unfortunately, we had to unplant them later because it snowed the following day! So now I’m trying to keep my flowers alive inside the showroom until it’s safe to plant them outside.)

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When it came time for the party, we used mostly white platters for serving. I love Ceramica Valenciana’s serving platters, which I piled high with muffins and strawberries. I also used one of Gorky’s white platters to arrange a variety of cookies. We served Italian Prosecco with fresh squeezed orange juice and made coffee for our guests as well.

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It was a fun morning with friends stopping by to enjoy a mimosa and admire the new arrivals from France and Italy. The weekend coincided with CU Boulder’s graduation, so we had a few guests from around the country (and one from the UK) who were in town celebrating their children. All in all it was a great day… and I was very glad to have my mom’s help cleaning up afterward!

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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!

decorative dinner plate
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.

dishware set

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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Fellow Caffeine Fans, French Coffee Mugs Are Back!

I have a confession: I am addicted to warm beverages. Specifically my morning tea (often earl grey with cream and honey), though an early afternoon coffee is hard to resist. Of course, if I want to get any sleep, I have to carefully juggle the coffee/exercise/time equation. And then there’s getting the accessories right: which mug to use is of paramount importance, as is the tea or coffee pot if I’m brewing at home. Sound like anyone you know?

French coffee mugs

Thankfully with all the new French arrivals at Emilia Ceramics, I have plenty of beverage accessories to add to my collection. The polka dots on Richard Esteban’s French coffee bowls remain a favorite; I just love the easy way these pieces mix and match. Richard’s French coffee mugs are another must. There’s even a place to rest your thumb on the handle (good for not spilling as I walk my full cup back to my desk). The barn red is my personal favorite, but just like his French coffee bowls, there are plenty of color combinations to mix and match with abandon. These mugs also hit the sweet spot size-wise: big enough that you don’t have to constantly refill, but not so big that the contents are cold by the time you get to last sips. These are definitely a sure winner if you’re trying to buy ceramics for a caffeine lover.

red French coffee mug

Summer is also almost here, which means it’s time to start brewing iced tea and iced coffee. And that means it’s time for pitchers! Looking to expand your summer serving ware? Try pieces like the quirky Richard pitcher, complete with hat and mustache or one of his polka dot pitchers to match the bowls and mugs.

Richard pitcher

Other fun beverage accessories of the moment: cream and sugar sets (perfect for entertaining) and the modern Ceramica Valenciana coffee pot. Sure, it’s Spanish, not French, but it beautifully compliments the playful chic of Richard’s ceramics. So many coffee mugs, so little time.

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Now, if you’ll excuse me, the kettle is boiling… time for another cup!

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Creating a Great Bridal Registry

angel_platter_2When it comes to putting together the perfect gift registry, the most important thing to remember is: ‘you are what you register for.’ In other words, choose stores and products that speak to who you are (both bride and groom)… and who you are as a couple. If you achieve that, your guests will enjoy buying you gifts and you will love receiving them.

So don’t just list what your mom tells you to list. And don’t just go to Crate & Barrel because everyone else you know did. Think about what you really want and need, what your fiancé wants and needs, and most importantly, what the two of you will truly use and enjoy together. And then list away! Here are a couple of ideas to get you thinking…

For Entertaining

Do you love having people over for drinks, dinner, brunch, or barbecue? Maybe you aren’t a great entertainer yet, but you aspire to be one. Either way, if hosting parties is something that excites you, be sure to include the supplies you need on your registry. The bonus of these gifts is that your friends and family will be able to see them being used and enjoyed when they come to your next dinner party!

El Mar Platter

Best Stores for Entertaining Supplies:
– Emilia Ceramics for Unique Platters and Serving Bowls
– Williams-Sonoma for Barbecue Supplies
– Crate & Barrel for Glassware

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For New Homeowners

Does getting married coincide with moving into a new house? Lucky you… what a great time to ask friends to contribute special additions to your home that will become future family heirlooms. When you’re shopping for gifts that will be incorporated into your new home decor, it’s important to pick classic objects that won’t be out of style a year from now.

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Best Stores for Home Decor:
– Macy’s for Bed and Bath
– Emilia Ceramics for Lamps and Vases
– Sur la Table for Pots and Pans

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For World Travelers

Again, you don’t have to be a world traveler to aspire to travel the world… now’s your chance to get help from friends and family who want to encourage your dreams as a married couple. So think big, whether that means new suitcases, camping equipment, or ceramics that mentally transport you to the South of France or the Mexican Riviera.

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Best Stores for Travel-Related Gifts:
– Macy’s for Luggage
– REI for Camping Equipment
– Emilia Ceramics for Worldly Mugs

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Spring: The Official Season of Emilia Ceramics

Yesterday, I sent out a newsletter with 6 Ideas for Spring Entertaining. The hardest part was getting the list down to 6! I could easily offer up 60 pieces from the Emilia Ceramics collection that are made for all the fun events this time of year: The beginning of barbecue season, outdoor dinner parties, Easter and Passover feasts, casual brunches, Mother’s Day celebrations, the list goes on and on. So I thought I’d put together a more exhaustive list of all my favorite serving dishes, pitchers, vases, and tableware for spring. Here goes…

Serving Platters

Let’s start with platters… whether you’re serving honey-baked ham, leg of lamb, burgers, or barbecued chicken, these are my favorite go-to platters:

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Serving Bowls

When I think of spring entertaining, I think of salad. Green salad, fruit salad, and of course, potato salad. These are my favorite salad bowls — as well as a few dip bowls that also come in handy this time of year!

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Pitchers

I love how in Europe they serve wine from hand-crafted pitchers. It seems to add to the earthiness of the beverage and can actually keep white wine colder than a bottle. Of course, these pitchers are also great for serving lemonade, iced tea, or water. And when they’re not being used to pour, they look fantastic with a bouquet of fresh flowers.
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A beautifully crafted and painted vase looks just as great with flowers as it does without. These are my three picks for displaying fresh spring blooms:

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Tableware

I love all the new tableware we have at Emilia Ceramics. Whether it’s Gogo’s salad plates, Richard’s polka-dot mugs and bowls, or Ceramica Valenciana’s adorable dinner and dessert plates, adding one of these sets to your table is the perfect way to celebrate spring.

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4 Fun Bridal Shower Ideas that You’ll Actually Enjoy

When was the last time you heard someone talking about a fun bridal shower?

Go on.

We’re waiting.

Yep, that’s what I thought. Although a sweet wedding tradition that celebrates the bride before the big day, many bridal showers center around the not-so-fascinating event of watching an adult open presents.

Yawn. However, as this post by Kellee Khalil demonstrates, there are plenty of ways to make a bridal shower fun for all. Getting ready to plan a shower for a bride in your life? Want to drop a gentle hint about a celebration you might enjoy having in your honor? Here are a few ways to spice up a blah bridal shower:

1. Have a couple’s shower.

Instead of a ladies-only event (save that for the bachelorette party), have a mixed crew to celebrate the couple. This will allow people to mix before the wedding who might not know each other well, particularly if the atmosphere is laid back.

2. Go outside.


A patio party is a great way to keep things causal and have a non-cheesy theme for the shower itself. Ask people to choose gifts that are fun and useful for outside entertaining (hint: check out their wedding registry to see if there are already items that fit the bill). Grill, make s’mores on a bonfire, play lawn games, and generally relax. Looking for an outdoor gift that’s out of the box? A unique planter instantly beautifies any porch or patio and is a sure winner with anyone who likes plants.

3. Celebrate a day in the life.

Another creative theme centers on celebrating “a day in the life” of the couple. Send out invitations with different times and ask guests to pick a gift appropriate for that hour of the day. Suddenly opening presents has moved beyond dishtowels. There’ll be mugs and waffle makers (morning), salad plates and planters (afternoon), cheese plates and wine glasses (evening), and, of course, some fun lingerie and bedding for the night!

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4. Have a cuisine-inspired theme.

Countries and their cuisine are another great bridal shower inspiration. Throw a Mexican-inspired, hacienda-style party or a chic French shower, though maybe not quite so over the top as we saw in Bridesmaids! (Warning, the clip below contains lots of swearing)

Decorate with your favorite Mexican ceramics to serve taquitos and delicious guacamole, adding a Piñata for a entertaining party game. The super original and functional platters and bowls by Gorky Gonzalez or Capelo would be great gifts for a Mexican-themed party. One of my personal go-to shower gifts is Gorky’s Tequila Shot Set. Pair it with a bottle of Patron and you have a gift that will be enjoyed for a long time to come.

Mexican ceramic serving platter

No matter the size or theme, think of the bridal shower as a relaxed event where the focus is on fun, not completing the wedding registry or stressing out. There’s plenty of time for that in the months ahead.

Gift image courtesy emily katherine may.

Picnic image courtesy Urban Hafner.

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Craving Tapas? Add Spanish Ceramics for Delicious Results!

One of my favorite things about Spain are the tapas bars. Endless small plates, delicious wine… it’s a great way to spend an evening or afternoon with friends. Or in my case, the perfect way to unwind after looking at endlessly beautiful ceramics at Ceramica Valenciana. This same causal vibe is one of the reasons Spanish dinnerware is so popular; the ceramics are just as delicious as the food they serve!

Traveling to Spain not in your immediate future? Why not throw a tapas party? The individual elements are fairly simple and the result is a lovely way to spend time with people you enjoy. Here’s what you’ll need for tapas success at home:

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The right music instantly sets the atmosphere. And for a real Spanish party, there’s nothing like Flamenco. I’ll never forget how when I lived in Sevilla, Spain, I’d walk into tiny little bars and find people playing the guitar and singing Flamenco casually in the corner. This photo shows just that — the whole bar would all start singing along, clapping, and occasionally dancing too.

For your own tapas party, you can’t go wrong with Flamenco music. If you have it in your collection, the Gipsy Kings will do, and if not, use Pandora’s traditional Spanish station, one of the many internet radio stations on iTunes, or a similar streaming service for the right grooves. Keep the music low so that people can easily talk over it. Music done.

Spanish Food

This quirky post on The Paupered Chef outlines just how easy it is to make food for a tapas party. Some delicious Spanish ham (Serrano if you can find it), olives, cheese, and bread provides your base. A tortilla espanol (basically a potato omelet served at room temperature) is another staple. Sausages, shrimp, grilled bread with a variety of spreads and tapenades, marinated mushrooms… the list goes on and on. Check out Real Simple, Martha Stewart, and All Recipes for more tapas ideas and recipes. Food done.

Spanish tapas

Spanish Ceramics

The real workhorses of a tapas evening, Spanish ceramics will make all your delicious treats look their best for your guests. A variety of small plates and serving platters are key, as are bowls for dips and spreads. Also have a stack of small plates for your guests to load up with their favorite bites (if everyone is moving around the room) as well as plenty of napkins. Ceramica Valenciana has a host of serving pieces, from little plates to salsa bowls, that are perfect for tapas. Spanish dinnerware done.

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Spanish Wine

Make a bowl of Sangria with red wine, fruit, and brandy (do this at least one day ahead so everything can soak for maximum flavor. Or head for your favorite Spanish wine bottles: Rioja and Priorat are classic Spanish reds. Or go for the sparkles of cava, a crisp Spanish white, or even a rosé. As one of the top wine producers in the world, there’s plenty of wine to choose from. Drinks done!

Now all you need to do is add the people and you have a tapas party all without heading to Spain. ¡Que aproveche!

Tapas images courtesy The Travelling Bum and heatheronhertravels.

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Blue and White Mexican Pottery Promises Good Luck in 2014!

How would you like some good fortune in 2014? Good luck traditions range all over the world from breaking plates in Denmark to wearing polka dots in the Philippines. I recently learned that in medieval Europe people listened for a dove’s first call since they believed it indicated the luck to come in the new year. If the call came from above, good luck would come; if from below, bad luck was on its way.

I like to believe that all of the doves on the paloma blue and white Mexican pottery collection bring good luck. I love the mix of patterns and textures that surround the subtle shape of a flying dove on these ceramics; they are at once ornate and warmly rustic. The tall blue and white vase is striking filled with colorful blooms or left empty. The smaller round vase works well for small flowers or as a pen and pencil holder on a desk.

blue and white Mexican pottery vase For those with birthdays in January, the versatile oval paloma box makes a great gift, holding jewelry, toiletries, or keys. Another perennial favorite is the paloma oval serving dish.

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If doves aren’t your good luck bird of choice, why not celebrate the New Year with roosters? Blue and white Mexican pottery pieces such as this rooster serving bowl possess a unique charm all their own. Another of my personal favorites is Gorky’s large blue and white rooster. He would be perfect as an accent in a kitchen or in the home of any rooster collector. All that personality has got to bring good luck, right?

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Here at Emilia Ceramics, 2014 is sure to bring more beautiful blue and white Mexican pottery pieces, as well as new French and Italian ceramics, and the return of some old favorites. I feel so fortunate to work with such talented artists, not to mention our dedicated and energetic customers (both new and returning). No matter what you do to bring yourself good luck this year, from toasts at midnight to eating grapes to wearing red underwear, here’s to it being fantastic!

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Our Grand Opening Party!

IMG_3943Last Wednesday, we celebrated the official opening of the Boulder Showroom (above). We were so excited by the turnout — lots of new friends (and some old ones) stopped by to see the new Emilia Ceramics headquarters, enjoy some yummy Spanish wine (in honor of the arrival of our Ceramica Valenciana shipment… stay tuned for details) and lots of cheese!

left_window_display_2In preparation for the event, I made my new space holiday-ready, with garlands and lights around the windows, a little Christmas tree in my favorite Mexican planter, and some festive flowers. I received lots of compliments on all I’ve done to make both the outside and inside of the shop feel like a small piece of Provence. The nice sentiments were much appreciated… after the last few months of making 2232 Pearl Street into Emilia Ceramics’ new home, I was feeling pretty proud!

As for refreshments, I decided to keep it simple. I had 3 different types of cheeses (blue, brie, and manchego), grapes, dates, and marcona almonds (are you sensing the Spanish theme?). Oh and cookies of course! For drinks, my guests could choose between Rioja, a Spanish white (which went especially well with the blue cheese), Sauvignon Blanc, sparkling water, fresh water, and Anchorsteam beer (a nod to my San Francisco roots).

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That’s where the fun part began… choosing ceramics to use for serving! I decided on two of my favorite serving platters: Richard Esteban’s Large Cheese Plate in Barn Red and  Ceramiche Bartoloni’s Foglia e Frutta Footed Platter with Angel. I absolutely LOVE Richard’s ceramic cheese platters, regardless of color or size. Each has a rustic individuality that is both subtle (won’t over-shadow the food you’re serving) and super sophisticated. With my color palette of black, white, and red, the barn red cheese plate looked perfect.

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I chose the Bartoloni’s footed platter because I love creating multiple dimensions. How boring is a buffet table where everything is flat? I like mixing and matching heights so the food looks as good as it tastes.

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Finally, I used one of Tuscia’s beautiful planters — the Blue Leaf Planter — as an ice chest to keep white wine and beer chilled. You’d think the Italian artists had made it for this exact purpose!

All in all, the party was a ton of fun! And judging by how exhausted I was afterward, I consider it a huge success!

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5 Party Planning Tips from Our Boulder Showroom Grand Opening

Emilia Ceramics Boulder Showroom Grand Opening
Who can resist throwing a party? With our Emilia Ceramics Boulder Showroom Grand Opening mere days away, I’m in total party-planner mode. Please join us this Wednesday if you’ll be in Boulder. Can’t make it? Here are five party tips to make your next celebration just as fun as our handmade ceramic bash.

  1. Have plenty of drinks but not too many options. Whether wine, beer, or cocktails, make sure you have more liquid than you think you might need. There’s nothing worse than a party that runs dry! Aim for about 1.5 drinks per guest per hour; one bottle of wine is about 5 drinks. Keep the choices simple with only 2 to 3 options, otherwise you’ll most likely end up with a surplus of one beverage over the others. Always have at least one non-alcoholic option besides water for those who don’t drink or are driving. A delicious tall pitcher of lemonade is always a favorite. If you’ll have 25 guests, 2 gallons should be plenty for the event.wine glass
  2. Scatter the snacks around. Platters full of snacks in different areas will encourage guests to circulate instead of clustering around a single food source. Multiple platters with repeated snacks (chips and salsa, hors d’oeuvres, or bite-sized desserts) are always a good move. If you’re a fan of a cheese platter remember the four parts for success: the cheese, the vehicle (crackers or bread), something sweet (fruit), and something crunchy (nuts). Mix several cheeses on one board or have multiple cheese plates showcasing a single favorite.cheese plate
  3. Embrace labels. So many people have food sensitivities these days, so it pays to clearly label everything. Small signs are classic, or use a roll of craft paper under your platters with contents clearly signaled. Otherwise you’ll find yourself repeating the same information throughout the event.
  4. Fill up a few black & white striped vases. Fresh flowers make even the most ordinary day feel special. Bold, colorful blooms particularly stand out when arranged in an appropriately sized black white striped vase. I love mixing different shapes of flowers and vases; this large black and white striped vase is stunning with sunflowers and this little round vase perfect for just a couple small flowers.black white striped vase
  5. Set the music and forget it. Background music sets the tone, so think about what suits the mood of your event. Keep the volume at a level where people can comfortably converse. No one wants to scream in front of a stack of speakers. Pandora (with no commercials!) is a favorite of mine; I have a great party station based on Pink Martini’s smooth grooves. If you’re crafting your own playlist, aim for about 4-5 hours worth of music. The people that are still around from the beginning will be having such a good time they won’t realize the music is starting to repeat.

What are your party planning secrets? Share your best advice with a comment below or just tell us in person tomorrow at our fête.

Wine glass image courtesy Dave Dugdale.

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The Perfect Mexican Ceramics to Celebrate the Day of the Dead

Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) was last week, so it’s no surprise that I have had Mexico and Mexican ceramics made by my favorite Mexican artists—Talavera Vazquez, Gorky Gonzalez, and Capelo—on my mind.

day of the dead skullsThe Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1 and 2, right after Halloween. The purpose of Día de los Muertos is to remember and celebrate one’s ancestors and friends who have died. The celebration has ancient roots in Aztec, Purepechas, and Totonacs traditions as well as links to the Catholic All Souls Day. Its two days of celebration are full of feasting, traditional foods, and lots of skulls. You’ve probably seen the joyful skeletons, especially the iconic couple of Catrina and Catrin. These dandy skeletons have a long tradition in their own right and are found in all kinds of art from sculptures and dolls to Mexican ceramics.

Mexican ceramicsOne of my favorite expressions of the Catrin figure is on this tile hot plate by Gorky Gonzalez. This smoking skeletons might be associated with the Day of the Dead, but he will bring Mexican charm to your kitchen all year round.

hot_plate_smoking_skeletonThe sugar skulls, cookies, and chocolates made for Day of the Dead celebrations are more than just eye-catching. By eating these sweets, people take a symbolic “bite of death” to rid themselves of the fear of death. Intricate altars are another important part of the holiday, decked in yellow and orange marigolds or chrysanthemums, food, sweets, photos, and religious amulets. Traditionally people also journey to their relatives’ graves on November 1 to decorate them with flowers and candles, then picnic there in celebration of the dead.

Day of the Dead skullsAll parts of this Mexican holiday blend the dead with the living. Maybe next year I’ll host my own Day of the Dead celebration… Invite people over to feast on my favorite Mexican dishes and share our memories of loved ones who are no longer alive. A playful Mexican ceramic skeleton bowl or trivet adds the perfect Day of the Dead touch. I especially love the effect of mixing these special Mexican ceramics with more oridinary dip bowls, serving platters, and pitchers of drinks. Felicidades!

skeleton bowlCandy skulls image courtesy of Glen Van Etten.

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The Ultimate Registry Guide: 5 Things to Not Forget

So you’ve registered with your favorite stores for your upcoming wedding. You’ve figured out the big items that you’d love to receive and are ready to rock… right? Not quite yet. While kitchen appliances and bakeware are the most popular registry items, there are plenty of overlooked items that make great wedding gifts and may have been left off your registry.

Here are my top 5 forgotten things you might just want to include on your wedding registry.

  1. Quality sheets. We all know how important sleep is, so why not use your registry to improve the quality of sleep you get. Find a set in 100 percent Egyptian cotton or 100 percent pima french coffee bowlcotton (known as Suprima) with a 300 thread count minimum. A set (or two) of luxury sheets will have you luxuriating in hotel-worthy comfort. Extra pillow covers are always useful too, so don’t forget to add a few more of those to the list.
  2. Coffee or tea supplies. How do you caffeinate in the morning? French coffee bowls are a fun choice for a gift that’s small and versatile. Like French coffee mugs but bigger, coffee bowls work wonderfully for small servings of soup and cereal. Everyone can use another couple of mugs, particularly for when guests come by. A coffee maker, whether a quality French press or fancy espresso machine, and/or a capacious tea pot are other must-haves.green and white tea pot
  3. More plates and glasses. Even if you only think you need a place setting for eight people, remember that things do break. So ask for others to help you buy ceramics you’ll need in the future, replacing that favorite dish or bowl. No matter if you have a design that’s fine china or handmade ceramic, few designs are produced forever, so stocking up now will pay off in the future. The same is true for glassware, both regular and wine glasses.
  4. Organizers. A spice rack, storage containers, or shelf dividers are definitely items that will see daily use. Use this as an opportunity to streamline the design of your home organization. A quality trash can, set of recycling bins, or garage storage are other useful items that many homes could use.
  5. Home bar accessories. A good corkscrew, wine bottle stoppers, and wine rack are a must for anyone who loves to have a few bottles of wine always on hand. Quality bar tools like a cocktail shaker, muddler, bar spoon, or a good ice bucket make mixed drinks even better. The square ice cube trays are also ideal for anyone who’s looking to take their drinks up a notch; the ice takes longer to melt when it’s in a big square block. And no matter your drink of choice, coasters are another item you never have too many of.

cocktail shakerHave other items you think should be on wedding registries? Do you like to buy ceramics or other daily use items as wedding gifts? Have any items you left off your registry and wish you hadn’t, like French coffee bowls or specialized serving ware? Leave a comment below.

Polka dot bed image courtesy of browndresswithwhitedots via Pinterest.

Cocktail shaker image courtesy of lennox_mcdough.

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From Blue and White Planters to Rustic Pitchers: Our Favorite Registry Picks

I love working with couples on their registries, seeing how excited they get about picking out beautiful ceramics together and then hearing about how they use their pieces after the wedding. Couples like Bethany and Martin use their ceramics daily, whether it’s a vase holding fresh flowers on the kitchen table, a pottery wall planter gracing the back deck, or one of Richard Esteban’s playful polka dot bowls filled with yogurt for breakfast.

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jennie's_gogoAlong the same line, I recently visited my cousin’s house and loved seeing the collection of colorful Gorky mugs and bowls (photo on the right) she received from her Emilia Ceramics Gift Registry. She and her husband use these everyday, thinking of the friends who gave them and the event they celebrated — that’s what I consider the perfect wedding gift!

In recent blog posts, I’ve talked about ideas for where to register as well as unique gifts that people can give a special couple. Today I’m looking at registries from a slightly different angle, diving into the lists of some of the wonderful couples currently registered at Emilia Ceramics.

Sheena and Blake love blue and white as well as statement pieces with Tuscan charm. Their choices of serving platters and a wine bottle holder point to people who love to entertain. Blair and Christopher have a broad ceramic selection that ranges from big to small: an extra large casserole by Richard Esteban, long rooster platter by Gorky Gonzalez, intricate spoon rest, and even a colorful mini plate.

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extra large casserole dishJen and Kristina love rustic white pieces from France and striped planters. The white pitcher below (sorry — it was one-of-a-kind and has already been purchased for them : ) and serving dishes contrast beautifully with the orange and yellow of their other favorite ceramics.

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Most registries contain serving pieces for entertaining – platters, pitchers, bowls – as well as practical statement pieces like vases and utensil holders. For those with a green thumb, a blue and white planter usually is on the list, and if the happy couple has any kind of yard, pottery wall planters as well. And pieces like the Amor platter are perfect for celebrating love. The range of big to small pieces also is perfect for helping guests pick the right gift for their price range.

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What ceramics do you think should be on every registry? Leave a comment and let us know!

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The Guide to Going “Off Registry”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s unfortunate, but not every engaged couple knows about the Emilia Ceramics Gift Registry. They don’t realize they could register for functional, beautiful ceramics that their guests will love to buy for them and they will love to use… for years and years and years to come. Now I understand that not everyone feels quite so passionately about the fact that Emilia Ceramics make the best wedding gifts, but I’m also not the only one who thinks they do. I know more than a few other die-hard Emilia Ceramics fans (you know who you are) who always buy Emilia Ceramics wedding gifts even when the engaged couple has not registered with us.

For those who believe that handmade, hand-painted ceramics make the perfect wedding gift, I recommend looking at a couples’ registry (or at their kitchen/home if that’s possible). You’re looking for the holes in their registries (maybe they overlooked serving platters or vases) and also wanting to get a sense of their style preferences. With a little background research, it’s easy to find a one-of-a-kind Emilia Ceramics piece that will fit their aesthetic and quickly become a cherished part of their new life together. Here are a few examples of thoughtful, meaningful wedding gifts that may be “off-registry” but are definitely on-track.

1. Lovers of White. They’ve registered for plain white plates, bowls, and mugs. But you know these people and they aren’t boring, so you want to give them a gift that’s simple and sophisticated, with a touch of color that will really show up in that sea of white. How about the Limoni 2 Liter Pitcher or Oval Platter? One of my new favorites is the Large Serving Bowl – Flores y Frutas. Another great, grown-up gift is Tuscia’s Blue Leaf Vase. These pieces all compliment a white palette really well, without overwhelming it.

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2. Moving into a New Home. It used to be that marriage was synonymous with making a new home together. Of course that’s not always the case anymore, but when it is, take advantage and give a statement piece that the couple can put in just the right place and build a whole room around. Of course, if you go this route you really should know their style and not just be choosing your favorite statement piece. Some great examples of striking gifts with tons of personality are the Extra Large Blue Floral Tibor, the Pablo Picasso Vase, the Palermo Lamp, and the Frutta Venezia Canister.

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3. Entertainers. You know this couple loves to entertain and while they registered for cooking, baking, and barbecuing supplies, they seemed to miss the serving platters and bowls that make a party work. Hone in on their color pallet… Blue and white? Choose one of these great Mexican bowls and platters: La Azteca Oval Serving Dish, El Mar Serving Plate, or the Large Round Platter – Flores Azules.

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blue and white platterAre they more into the earthy, jewel tones? Richard Esteban has them covered with the Large Petal Platter in Butter Yellow, Fish Platter in Burnt Honey, or the Large Cheese Plate in Barn Red.

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4. Who knows?! Whether it’s an old friend you haven’t seen in years or a coworker you just met, sometimes you have to buy a wedding gift for a couple you really don’t know very well. These gift ideas are sure bets for just about anyone. It’s still a good idea to look at what else they’ve registered for so you can match colors, styles, and get a sense of their needs. But in general, you can’t go wrong with these 5 gift ideas:

  1. Amor Platter: The name says it all. This platter evokes love and it’s shape makes it great for serving appetizers or dessert.
  2. Burnt Orange Striped Vase – Especial: Everyone loves this vase. Everyone.
  3. Tuscan Fruit Oval Platter: An Italian classic that can be hung on the wall or used to serve appetizers and main dishes.
  4. Large Love Birds Bowl: Yup, Love Birds… need I say more?!
  5. Small Cherry Pitcher: The voluptuous shape of this pitcher and beautifully painted pattern make it unique, yet universally loved. Great for serving drinks, displaying fresh cut flowers, or just plain looking good.

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tuscan_fruit_oval_platterlove_birds_bowl_1little_cherry_pitcherWhat’s your favorite, go-to wedding gift from Emilia Ceramics? Leave us a comment below to let us know.

Also, if you’re ever having trouble finding the right gift, don’t hesitate to call or email us with questions. We’re here to help and love the challenge of finding just the right gift!

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The Plate Designs of Gorky Gonzalez: Endless Combinations

Whenever I make a display of Gorky Gonzalez plates, I am faced with a unique challenge: no matter how I stack the mix of colors, patterns, and designs, these plates look great. So finding the most attractive arrangement can take some time. But the results always are appealing, with unique designs and vibrant colors that are beautiful on any table.

Gorky Gonzalez PotteryStacking plates is a quick and easy way to make any meal feel more like an event, whether you have guests or just your family around the table. Of course, the permutations depend on what you’re serving. Some ideas to get you started: Soup bowl on top of salad plate on top of dinner plate. Three plates of descending sizes stacked on top of each other. Square plates on top of round plates. For brunch, maybe a cup and saucer stacked on top of a bread plate and larger plate.

plate designs of Gorky GonzalezI think what’s special about the plate designs of Gorky Gonzalez is how they just beg to be mixed and matched. I have people who stick to the same color palette—blue and white is very popular—but mix the borders of their smaller plates to contrast with the patterns of their dinner plates. Others choose solid colored dinner plates and accessorize with complimentary salad and dessert plates in a mix of designs. I love a vibrant red plate as a starting point. For a dynamic table setting, things get even more interesting when each individual salad plate has a different central motif, but complimentary colors and border design with the dinner plates.

rooster_plateblue and white mini plateGorky dessert platered plateGorky’s plates are all handpainted, just like the rest of his ceramics, so no two plates are exactly alike. This personality really makes for a striking table, with the motifs of roosters, palm trees, fish, flowers, and more. What’s your favorite Gorky plate? How do you feel about red plates or blue plates instead of plain white plates? Leave a comment and let us know! I’m going to get back to arranging the plates in our new Emilia Ceramics Showroom… I just received a new order from Gorky so I have lots of material to work with!

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The Nostalgia of Blue and White

Remember when you were a kid visiting relatives and how wonderfully different their homes were from yours? Or when guests would come over and suddenly there would be an entirely different set of dishes to serve dinner? My favorite was my grandmother’s etched glassware, which I actually now have and use whenever I have guests over. It always transports me back to her house and the iced tea she made in the sun each day.

blue and white tea partySimilarly, there’s something wonderfully nostalgic about running into plates and bowls that remind you of your childhood. Whether it’s the fact that your parents still have and use the same dishes or coming across a blue and white bowl at a friend’s house, restaurant, or antique shop, the memories can be incredibly vivid. My parents had (and still use) small, delicately painted blue and white bowls — blue and white bowlthey served me soup when I was sick and  held ice cream when I was healthy. I think this is one of the reasons I was immediately drawn to Richard Esteban’s French coffee bowls. They have a similar feel and shape to the bowls of my childhood.

I think this is why people love blue and white ceramics so much. Blue and white is a classic color combination for fine porcelain, but those delicate plates, bowls, and cups aren’t really suited for the contingencies of everyday life. Sturdier ceramics that evoke the same associations are an ideal compromise. Although not every ceramic piece brings up a memory, the link between objects and experiences is definitely a strong one. I came across this intriguing blog post discussing the link between objects and memories if you’re interested in reading more about the phenomenon.

mug_sideIf you think about it, people do the same thing by collecting souvenirs when they travel. The word comes from the French “to remember” since having a thing makes the memory easier to access. Whenever I want to be reminded of my travels, I reach for an Italian mug or a French coffee bowl: suddenly I’m back in European rolling hills enjoying a drink at a little local café.

Of course, the easiest way to keep a link with the dishware from your past is to use it. This is why so many people pass down their porcelain table settings and fine serving pieces as well as other important objects. Having the creamer that sat on your great-aunt’s dining table or the crystal glasses used by your grandparents is a wonderful way to keep the people from your past as part of your present.
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What objects make you remember your childhood? Are there certain blue and white bowls, plates, cups, or other ceramics that connect you to your past? Souvenirs you try and use frequently? Leave a comment and let us know!

Tea party image courtesy of kevin dooley.

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Favorite DIY Utensil Holder Ideas that Look Fabulous

Utensil holders are strangely versatile additions to a kitchen. Large ones keep kitchen utensils in order for baking and cooking, but also can double as vases or wine bottle holders (if the shape is right). Smaller utensil holders corral silverware for parties or in apartments with little drawer space. Style comes into the kitchen with chevron utensil holders and other contemporary designs. Inspired by the many ideas on Pinterest and crafty blogs, here are some great holders for your home DIY needs.

utensil holder

Holders for Cutlery

The easiest small utensil holder is a jar of appropriate size. Dress it up with ribbon or decals. This series of three mason jars attached to reclaimed barn wood is perfect for forks, knives, and spoons and more! I love this idea for a small herb garden that mounts on the wall.

DIY utensil holder

In the garden theme, small painted flower pots also are great DIY holders for an informal party setting. The tags on these add the perfect touch for a bbq or outdoor event.

flower pot utensil holders

Another variation on this theme is to use three tin cans covered in colorful paper. One Creative Momma’s colorful DIY holders are playful and stylish.

You also can make utensil holders for individual servings, showing off your craft genius at the table. This tutorial by House of Rose is fun for picnics or the beach, dressing up plastic utensils with pizzaz.

DIY utensil holder

Holders for Large Kitchen Utensils

Canisters that won’t tip over are essential for these kitchen accessories. You can simply upcycle a large tin, making sure the edges are crimped down for safety. I love the look of a decorated olive oil tin, though large European cookie tins are another possibility.

DIY olive oil tin utensil holder

Another large-format DIY holder is a paint can, decorated to match your other kitchen accessories. This version is painted with chalkboard paint, allowing for quick customization.

DIY holder

You can also avoid a utensil holder all together, going for a hanging bar over the counter or stovetop. This creative solution from Release Me Create uses a tension bar over the stove for quick installation.

DIY hanging utensil holder

Chevron remains a favorite pattern, so why not paint a large flower pot to create a chevron utensil holder? This Full Life transforms a yellow pot with painter’s tape and spray paint, creating a particularly spiky design. Don’t feel like painting? Then check out Talavera Vazquez’s handpainted chevron utensil holder in solid ceramic. Bonus: It also doubles a wine bottle holder.

chevron utensil holder

What are your favorite places to find DIY projects for the home? What other creative DIY utensil holder ideas have you used? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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The Best Large and Small Handmade Ceramic Bowls

handmade ceramic bowls

You can never have too many handmade ceramic bowls. Mini bowls are perfect for serving dips, nuts, holding spices, or small kitchen items. Really large bowls are great for mixing, serving chips or pasta dishes, or holding colorful fresh fruit. And then there are bowls for ice cream, soup, salad… you get the idea. What handmade ceramic bowls are best for your needs? Here’s a roundup of bowls from mega to mini and how to best use them.

handmade ceramic bowls

Massive bowls are best for serving massive dishes at parties or gatherings. The serving dishes by Capelo and Talavera Vazquez are ideal for mounds of pasta, bottomless chip bowls, or even entrée-sized salads when you have a crowd to feed. Large handmade ceramic bowls also make stunning centerpieces on dining tables or in the living room. Fill them with fruit to encourage healthy snacks or leave empty for an artful impact.

large handmade ceramic bowllarge handmade ceramic bowl

salad bowlSalad bowls are a more moderate size — perfect for tossing and serving a green salad or other side dish. They also work well mixing bowls or as centerpieces in smaller dining spaces.

Bowls for individual use have so many potential functions. I love these bowls with scalloped edges that make soups, salads, or sundaes seem extra special. And when the bowl is empty, the design at the bottom becomes a lovely surprise.

 

handmade ceramic bowls

I love guacamole, so I’m always on the lookout for ideal dip bowls that will hold a hearty serving without looking too empty or full. Gorky’s rooster bowl is ideal for guacamole or homemade salsa because of its depth. Triple or double bowls are fabulous for serving condiments for tacos or tortilla soup. These handmade ceramic bowls also hold ice cream toppings surprisingly well.

rooster bowl

How do you use your handmade ceramic bowls? What size is your favorite? Leave a comment and let us know!

dip bowl

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French Ceramics for Hot Summer Fun

French ceramic pitchersI’ve made it to Boulder, CO and it is H.O.T. I know the country has been experiencing a heat wave this summer, but “hot” in San Francisco is above 70°F, not close to 100°F. It’s been a bit of an adjustment, though there is something wonderful about getting to be outside at night without a jacket of any kind. Having to unload a truck worth of ceramics in the heat… that’s less exciting.

What does the weather have to do with French ceramics? Well, with the extreme temperatures, items like water jugs become a necessity to stay cool and hydrated in the sultry afternoons. That’s where Poterie Ravel’s fabulous water jugs and pitchers come in. Perfect for water, iced tea, or a batch of mojitos, these French ceramics are the ideal mix of practical and beautiful for the summer. Poterie Ravel itself is located outside of Marseille in southern France; the ceramic artists there definitely know about beating the summer heat when temperatures start to rise. Water jugs aren’t just decorative accents, but heavily used French ceramics to keep everyone cool.

Of course, these French ceramics work wonderfully as a centerpiece idea for dining indoors or out. Fill the jug with water for your guests or with flowers for a colorful table accent. A pitcher vase always looks rustic and casual, ideal for times when it’s too hot to think clearly. Used on a picnic table, these substantial French ceramics will also keep a tablecloth from blowing away in the breeze. The whites and ivory shades that Poterie Ravel uses for many of its French ceramics feel crisp and cool, perfect for hot days. I also love the water jugs with natural clay exposed at the bottom, evoking the garden pots that Ravel is so well-known for.

Looking for something refreshing to fill your favorite pitcher or water jug this July? Try cold-brew iced tea, no hot water required. I think adding mint and a bit of simple syrup makes for the perfect summer drink. What are your go-to beverages to beat the heat? Leave a comment below and let us know. I’ve got to get back to organizing French ceramics, though thankfully they are now all inside!

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How to Set Your Table the French Way (Hint: Use French Ceramics)

French dinner tableAs I prepare for my upcoming trip to France and Italy, I find myself thinking about all the French ceramics I’ll be seeing shortly. It can be quite overwhelming when having to choose from all the wonderful pieces that my French artists create. But it’s not all work, of course. Take my visits to Poterie d’Aigues-Vives. After the hard work of choosing is over, I love sitting around the table with Richard Esteban and his family, feasting on a delicious meal presented on his signature dishware.

 

Even if a trip to Provence is not in your future, it’s easy to bring France to your home this summer. After you find some crusty bread, tangy cheese, and open that bottle of wine, you’re well on your way. Ready to complete the vibe? Here are my tips for setting your table like Richard does:

 

 

Patterns should mix.

plates and bowls

Plates and bowls don’t need to match; stack striped plates and polka dot bowls together for flair and fun. Keep colors complementary and let your imagination run wild. If you’re feeling bold, get other patterns and textures into the mix with your plates and bowls. Dishware sets never looked so unique!

Platters should be heaped.

French ceramic serving platter The French like to enjoy a leisurely meal, particularly when enjoying dinner outside after the day’s work is done. Fill French ceramic serving platters with fresh vegetables, crisp salads, perfectly done fish, or other bounties of the season, then enjoy time around the table (no need to run back to the kitchen). Strangely, I find that even though the mealtimes are longer in France, I always eat less since there’s time to truly savor every bite.

Pitchers should be filled.

French pitcher - teal

A meal isn’t complete without the proper drinks. At Richard’s that means a pitcher filled with red wine, another filled with water, and sometimes a third with fresh lemonade. Decanting allows your wine to breathe and the spout makes for easy pouring, no matter the beverage. I find that having all the drinks on the table also helps people stay there longer, chatting once the food is gone.

Color is essential.tableware sets

Accessorize your French ceramics to truly bring Provence home. Flowers are an ideal addition to the table; use a small rustic vase for more country charm. Colorful napkins, placemats, or tablecloths are also great for pulling a table together. Don’t try too hard to match, but do keep your colors in a similar tonal range for best results.

Now that your tableware set is ready and your decorative dinner plates filled, it’s time to enjoy the best part of any French-inspired meal: the company around you. Bon appétit!

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We’re Ready for Summer Entertaining with Mexican Serving Dishes

Frog Cream and Sugar SetMemorial Day is just around the corner, and with it comes picnics and barbeques galore. Instead of reaching for paper plates, which can blow away in the wind and cause serving disasters, try using sturdy ceramics, like Mexican serving dishes. Your food will look better and be easier to handle as a result. No more worrying about if your burger will end up in your lap or your mouth.Mexican serving dish

I’m not the only one who loves Mexican serving platters for summer entertaining. As the weather has warmed up, I’ve been seeing a surge in orders for these party essentials. The long platter, part of Gorky Gonzalez’s Gogo collection, is ideal for grilled asparagus, raw veggie assortments, or cheese and crackers.

The handles on Mexican serving platters mexican serving platterby Talavera Vazquez make them ideal for passing meats fresh from the grill. Pasta salads or greens fit perfectly into one of Gorky’s cheerful serving bowls. And with Gogo dinner plates in a rainbow of colors, a fun, festive atmosphere was never easier to achieve.

But my favorite part of summer table décor are Gorky Gonzalez’s whimsical Mexican salt and pepper shakers. These are a fun way to season that corn on the cob or grilled steak. Quirky but not too crazy, I can’t get enough of these fantastic animals for any table setting inside or out. Bonus: use salt and pepper shakers to keep an outdoor tablecloth from blowing away before everyone sits down to feast. The blue and white chickens are quite popular (and lend themselves well to patriotic picnics like Memorial Day and Fourth of July), though all of these handpainted animal pairs has its own personality that’s definitely ready to party.

blue and white Mexican salt and pepper shakersmexican salt and pepper shakers

I can’t wait for my own Memorial Day grilling to start. With Mexican salt and pepper shakers, serving dishes, and the location set, all I need now is to figure out the menu! Here’s to a fun-filled holiday weekend; hope you enjoy it.

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Set a Rustic Tuscan Table with Ceramic Pitchers and Other Essentials

The charm of a rustic Italian table is unparalleled. Pitchers filled with wines and water are scattered to ensure everyone has plenty to drink. Platters piled with homemade delicacies are passed, then passed again. Exposed wood, ironwork, and handmade Italian ceramics all work together to enhance the flavors and experience.

Want to translate the homey, inviting feel of a Tuscan table to your home? Italian country décor invokes the same materials as Tuscany: large hand painted plates, ceramic salad bowls, Tuscan vases, wrought iron, glass bottles, and natural colors. Now you’re ready to invite over friends and family to feast the night away.

One of the easiest ways to get a Tuscan feel to your table is using ceramic pitchers. The thick clay keeps drinks cool in the summer and makes it easy to pour just one more glass of wine. Detailed patterns also make it easy to distinguish white wine from red wine, or adult beverages from those that are kid-friendly. A ceramic pitcher filled with wildflowers also makes for a great centerpiece, lending casual elegance to your table.

Sturdy serving pieces are also an essential for Italian country dining. A ceramic salad bowl large enough to toss greens for your entire group could also be used for a fragrant pasta dish. Platters stacked with cuts of meat or appetizing vegetables beg to be passed until diners can eat no more. Little bowls filled with sauces compliment everyone’s hand painted plates, large enough to comfortably fit a little bit of everything while adding a festive note to the table.

To feel truly like you’re in Tuscany, look for a wide-planked wooden table built to withstand the feasting of generations. If you’re satisfied with your current eating surface, a handmade tablecloth will transform it for your Italian feast; look for shades of orange and gold to compliment darker dishware. Add a Tuscan vase on the sideboard, some candles in rustic holders, and you’ll have the feel of Italy without getting on a plane. Buon appetito!

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Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

May is coming up fast and with it Mother’s Day, a time to celebrate the importance of moms everywhere. Stuck on gift ideas for that special lady and need some inspiration? Here are some handmade handpainted Majolica gift ideas that are just as special as she is.

If Mom likes…

Entertaining: Think about serving plates and platters. Unusually shaped pieces like the rounded rectangle Mexican serving platters will definitely stand out at her next event.

Cheerful polka dots or stripes make for whimsical French serving platters, while fruit and floral motifs characterize Mexican serving platters. Choose motifs or colors that already go with what’s in her kitchen to ensure she loves her gift.

Gardening: Help her plants shine with eye-catching planters and ceramic pots. Handmade handpainted Majolica works both indoors and out, decorating patios, porches, doorsteps, gardens, and windowsills with ease. Use a round planter as a cachepot for a blooming orchid or one of her favorite flowers or gift a larger planter with seeds and soil to start spring off right.

Drinking coffee: Then the right mug is a must. Consider the size of this large mug, big enough for an entire morning’s worth of coffee or tea. Or if she loves espresso, a colorful set of espresso cups might be just the thing she needs to start her day off right. Creamers, sugar bowls, and other coffee and tea accessories are also great gift ideas, especially if they make their first appearance on a tray for her indulgent Mother’s Day breakfast in bed.

Unique artwork: Consider one of a kind handmade, handpainted Majolica. Whether it’s a wall plate or serving platter, vase or pitcher, unique ceramics are sure to please. Majolica ceramics are elegant and sturdy, which is great for mothers of young children. She’ll love knowing that she has the only one in the world. I’d say she deserves nothing less.

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Enjoying Wine to Its Fullest: A Photo Essay

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How do you enjoy your wine? From a glass with dinner to a bottle with friends, there are lots of wine accessories out there that help make a bottle taste a little better. One example that’s perfect for entertaining is wine bottle holders. Ceramic wine bottle holders in particular keep chilled bottles cool longer (without all the drips of ice) and add a decorative note to the table.

wine bottle holder

Of course, to fully enjoy wine you need to get it open. There are so many corkscrews out there to choose from, but I think the classic waiter style is the best in terms of ease and size.

corkscrew

Once you have the bottle open, cork wine stoppers with fanciful designs are another excellent wine accessory. Instead of trying to cram the original cork back in, these fit easily but still keep an open bottle tasting great for days after. A trick to keep wine longer is to store open bottles of both red and white in the refrigerator; just let the red come up to room temperature before serving.Wine Corks

Other must-haves for wine are the right glasses. Aficionados use a variety of glass shapes depending on the grape, but generally you’re ok with large wine glasses for reds, more tapered glasses for whites, and flutes for champagne and sparkling wine.

white wine glass

red wine glass

Love big bold red wines? A decanter is definitely wise. These let wine breathe and allow the flavors to really open up. An aerator performs a similar task while you pour the wine, but in a matter of minutes (perfect for causal dinners).

Wine is a great way to be prepared for impromptu parties or unexpected guests. I love this simple list from Kris Schoels of Young Married Chic as to what you should always have on hand to be prepared for a last-minute get-together:

1. A great bottle of champagne.
2. Bread, cheese, fresh fruit.
3. Chocolate and extra desserts.

So simple, yet so perfect. Are you prepared?

chocolate assortment

Wine certainly makes everything more festive. Check out our Pinterest board on everything wine for more ideas, then let us know you favorite wine accessories from wine bottle holders to glasses by leaving a comment below.

Corkscrew image courtesy of YannGarPhoto.wordpress.com.

White wine glass image courtesy of Robert S. Donovan.

Red wine glass image courtesy of yashima.

Bread image courtesy of designsponge.com via Emilia Ceramics on Pinterest.

Chocolates image courtesy of aalphotos.

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Looking for No-Fool Decorating Ideas? Try Some Blue and White!

decorating with blue and white

April 1 is known as a day of pranks and tricks. Having worked with a host of designers and decorators, I have a few tricks of my own when it comes to making a space look its best. From a grouping of blue and white vases or black and white jars, to a well placed black and white stripe lamp, transforming a room is often as easy as choosing the right accessories or the perfect coat of paint. What room in your home could use a decorating transformation?

decorating with blue and white

 

Here are a few ideas to get you started with blue and white.

Living Room

This space should exude welcome and comfort, especially if you like to entertain. Add fresh flowers for an easy and seasonal transformation; the blooms will soften and enliven the entire room. Use an eye-catching blue and white vase or other bold color to pack some punch. For year-round color, group blue and white vases of various sizes on a sideboard or shelf. Tired of your sofa and chairs? Refresh them with chic pillows in graphic patterns of various sizes. The resulting texture and color will make the room feel entirely different.

Bathroom

Small rooms are perfect for playing with bold colors. Choose a boldly patterned wallpaper for the entire space for a startling design transformation, like the map below. If wallpaper isn’t your favorite, similar effects can be achieved with paint in a rich jewel tone or other saturated color.
Add some lux to shelving with black and white jars to hold all your essentials. Unusual soap dishes and toothbrush holders are other ways to quickly inject new personality into the space.

Kitchen

Black and white is a perennial favorite for kitchens because the color combination is clean and chic. Black coffee mugs, a black ceramic vase, or other black accessories invoke this palette without much effort. Painting or staining cabinets is another way to transform a kitchen’s look, though it involves a bit more time and planning. If you have exposed shelving, hide things like canned goods with (Martha Stewart approved) cabinet curtains, while leaving your beautiful pieces exposed.

Bedroom

A black and white stripe lamp injects a modern feel to a bedside table, while blue and white feels more serene. Either way, you’ll feel more relaxed with diffused light coming from multiple sources than a glaring overhead light source. If you’re looking for a more dramatic overhaul, consider hanging tapestry fabric along one wall; the result will add old-world charm, color, and warmth to the space. Or put some wallpaper on the ceiling for a totally different feel. Changing details like drawer pulls, curtains, or bedspreads also make a huge difference with little effort.

 

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Much Loved (and Used) Favorites!

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One of the best things about the pop-up shop in Palo Alto is interacting with customers. Many people who walk into my shop just assume I’m an employee. Sure, I might know something about ceramics, but they don’t expect me to be quite as intimately connected with the goods as I am. I don’t blame them… I make the same assumption when I visit other stores. It’s fun to get to surprise customers by sharing that I actually know the artists who make the pieces, that I personally pick out each piece, and that I use many of the ceramics myself at home. The last piece of info is probably the most helpful to perspective customers. I can give them precise knowledge of food that looks great served on Tuscia’s square platters, promise them that all the mugs work well in the microwave, and assure them that the Vina Azul salad bowl is the best size and shape for tossing/serving salads. I love sharing personal stories of how my parents use an eclectic set of Gorky plates as their everyday dishes, how my sister serves spaghetti, ice cream, salad, chili, and IMG_0779anything else she can think of in Gorky’s pasta bowls, how my brother makes beautiful caprese salads on his Amor Platter, and how I always serve cheese and crackers on my favorite square platter with oranges. Here are some personal photos of Emilia Ceramics in use… Enjoy!

Right and Below: Dinner at my parents’ house with El Mar Platter, Oval Serving Dish, and various Gorky plates.

gorky gonzalez serving platters and plate

Below: My brother’s famous caprese salad served on the Amor Platter

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Below: Delicious and beautiful Gazpacho at my friend’s house, served in Emilia Ceramics’ Italian mugs and blue and white bowls by Gorky Gonzalez.gazpacho

Below: One of my favorite of Richard Esteban’s pieces, this oval serving platter (which I gave my dad for Christmas last year) works great for serving meat dishes and salads. We even served the turkey on it for Thanksgiving this year (but I forgot to take a photo)!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIMG_0384

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How Do You Ring in New Year’s? Some Traditions from Around the World

As we enjoyed the last days of 2012, I found myself thinking about the ways that people celebrate New Year’s Eve around the world. Special drinks and foods abound, as do traditions to bring good luck for the new year. From breaking plates (yikes, maybe not these plates) to wearing polka dots, here is a small sample of New Year traditions worldwide.

Mexico is not only home to Gorky Gonzalez’s pottery workshop, but a host of New Year traditions. People eat twelve grapes, one for every chime, at the stroke of midnight. Each grape is supposed to be a wish for the upcoming year. The same custom is found in Spain. Traditional food includes the Rosca de Reyes, Mexican sweet bread that has a coin or charm baked inside. Whoever finds the charm in their slice has good luck for the whole year.

Throughout Latin America, South America, Spain, and Italy, people turn to their underwear for good luck. Those looking for love wear red, while others looking for money wear yellow pairs. People in the Phillipines wear polka dots, a pattern that links to coins and prosperity. They also throw coins at midnight to increase wealth. Hoppin’ John, a dish from the American South, also invokes money for good luck. It consists of rice and pork-flavored black-eyed peas or field peas (which symbolize coins), served with collards or other greens (the color of money) and cornbread (the color of gold). A plate of home cooking that brings good luck – sounds delicious to me!

In Denmark people jump off of chairs at midnight to ensure they fall into good luck. They also smash old plates on their friends’ and neighbors’ doorsteps as a sign of good luck and friendship. Those with the biggest pile of broken plates in the morning are seen as the most lucky because they have so many loyal friends. Being surrounded by handmade ceramics and Gorky Gonzalez pottery here in the Palo Alto pop-up shop, I can’t imagine throwing these plates, no matter how lucky it might be.

For those wanting to get rid of things, in Italy people throw old televisions and other unwanted goods out of their windows. Folks in Ecuador burn portraits or something else that represents the old year as a way to get rid of the past.

No matter where you are, you probably have a tradition or two of your own — Maybe you served your wishing grapes on a cheerful rooster plate or another colorful piece of Gorky Gonzalez pottery, invested in some colorful underwear, or tried a new dish. No matter how you rang in the new year, here’s wishing you health and happiness for 2013.

Champagne image courtesy of maxxtraffic.

Rosca de reyes image courtesy of From Argentina With Love.

Broken plate image courtesy of Kristian Thøgersen.

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Making Creative Dishware Sets with French Ceramics

As we wrap up the season of holiday entertaining, I find myself thinking about dishware sets. Instead of the couple of plates and bowls you use daily, entertaining has most people emptying the cabinets to serve the 8, 12, 30 people gathered for dinner, brunch, or afternoon cocktail party. If you’re not used to crowds in your home, finding enough of the proper servingware can be the biggest challenge. That’s where having flexible dishware sets comes in.

One of my favorite current trends with tableware sets and decorative dinner plates is having pieces that mix and match. Individual dinner plates with fun designs or vibrant colors make each place setting really stand out, and add incredible depth to a table. Layering dishes with different complimenting colors and designs is another deceptively simple way to create a dynamic table setting.

For color and pattern, I feel like French ceramics have a playful spirit, polka dot plates bowlsparticularly those from Provence. Whimsy endues polka dot plates and bowls by Richard Esteban as well as the delicate pastel washes of Sylvie Durez’s one of a kind French ceramics. Then there are details like Poterie Ravel‘s pitchers splattered glazes or the delicate edging of their bowls. Patrice Voelkel’s French ceramics go another direction with jewel-toned glazes and local black clay. No matter what speaks to your aesthetic, these plates and bowls are truly unique and make any table stand out.

Of course, French ceramics are useful throughout the year, not just around the holidays. Their festive spirit injects joy into all occasions, from toast covered with your favorite jam for breakfast to celebrating a birthday or anniversary. Appetizer dishes hold daily snacks, pitchers bouquets of fresh flowers, and bowls everything from ice cream to cereal. Richard’s plates and bowls are an excellent example of the versatility of French ceramics. The soft yellow base glaze makes food look delicious and the playful dots, stripes, bird, or dog motifs add lively personality to these decorative dinner plates.

Paired with weighty pieces like the barn red milk pitcher or a rustic casserole full of tonight’s dinner, it’s hard to resist these French ceramics.

How do you dress up your table for the holidays or everyday dining? What are your favorite French ceramics? Are there dishware sets you absolutely adore? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Guest Blogger Bethany: Six Months Later with New Pottery

Martin and I got married this past May and it’s been quite the whirlwind before, during, and since. Our wedding was lovely, filled with laughter, family, and close friends. Getting to Iceland for the honeymoon was fraught with travel delays and missed flights but absolutely worth it in the end. And then we were back home, with a list of thank you notes to write and “normal” life to resume.

Of course, many of my favorite gifts came from our wedding registry at Emilia Ceramics. As I said in my earlier post, figuring out the mysteries of wedding registries was one of the more stressful aspects of getting married. Using the resulting French coffee bowls and other pieces of new pottery, however, is a breeze.

We threw a reception for our San Francisco friends in July and I was incredibly glad to have the platters and bowls for all the food. I think we incorporated almost every new piece of pottery we’d received for the meat, cheese, and desserts to accompany the champagne. The results looked just as good as they tasted and it was a great way to break in our new ceramics.

The best part though is having things we can use everyday. I see the polka dot bowls whenever I open the cabinet and they never fail to make me smile. These hold my yogurt in the morning, soup at lunch, and the occasional (ok, frequent) ice cream sundae as a reward for diligent studying. Even though I’m more of a tea drinker, I still like to use the French coffee bowls when I sit down to write. As a graduate student in English literature and part time writer and editor, having the perfect vessel for my beverage of choice makes all the difference. My favorite bowl has a few drips of glaze inside and they all have subtle variations in the glaze; I love it that each French coffee bowl is truly unique.

Even when we’re not entertaining, we also use the blue and white salad bowl made by Talavera Vazquez to hold fruit on the table. Other serving platters have made appearances at dinner parties and I’m looking forward to the holidays to have even more occasions to use them.

I dropped by the Emilia Ceramics pop-up shop in Palo Alto the other day (when Emily asked if I’d be willing to write a follow-up post) and I fell in love all over again with the polka dot mugs, espresso cups, and other pieces of new pottery on offer there. Even if we’re done with the wedding registry, I already have some ideas what will be on my Christmas list this year!

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We’re “Bowled” Over by These New Bowls

It’s been a busy past few weeks. I’ve been setting up the Palo Alto pop-up shop, working on a new website design, and also sorting through new arrivals from Gorky Gonzalez and Capelo. Whew!

Some of my favorite new pieces are bowls. Large and small, bowls can be some of the most heavily used ceramics in anyone’s collection. I think it has to do with versatility. A soup bowl also works for cereal, salad, or a massive ice cream sundae. A ceramic pasta bowl doubles as a fruit bowl on a table or countertop; a shallow serving bowl becomes a decorative centerpiece or a mail catchall.

The large serving bowls by Gorky are a great fusion of fun and utility. The one of a kind El Pajaro bowl has a playful exuberance and would look great filled with a fresh salad or hanging on a wall. The skeleton bowl is perfect for fall with colors in warm orange, brown, yellow, blue, and green. Other Gorky bowls like the octagonal bowl with palm trees or the sunburst pasta bowl are equally charming and unique.

Other new Mexican bowls come from Capelo. I have new pieces similar to the Las Flores bowl currently in the pop-up shop (look for them on the website soon!). With its unique fluted corners, these serving bowls are perfect for mixing up cakes, pancakes, or other delicious treats – just use a corner like a spout! There are also some lovely large footed bowls which will be stunning on a coffee table or in the dining room.

Of course, bowls aren’t just for serving and display. The bright yellow of these smaller bowls by Poterie Ravel are sure to brighten any table, while the rich glazes of Gorky’s Gogo soup bowls add a rainbow of hues to your breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I know that my family’s table will be full of  with our favorite sides and holiday foods. How will you use bowls entertaining this year? Leave a comment and let us know, or simply share a bowl that you absolutely love.

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Get Personal with the Blue and White Ceramics that Fit Your Style

Do you love the appeal of blue and white ceramics but not sure where to begin when it comes to your home? This color combination is hugely popular for decorating, so it’s really no surprise that the options for blue dinnerware, white dishes, and blue and white serving plates appear to be endless. Broadly speaking you can find blue and white ceramics that fall into the following four categories. Pick the one that suits your aesthetic best and let that guide your choices from blue dishes to white ceramic serving platters.

Abstract Designs

Stripes, zigzags, chevrons, polka dots, and other abstract motifs can feel truly contemporary yet have a timeless appeal. For example, a blue and white ceramic vase makes a great centerpiece for your table, complimenting your serving plates and dinnerware. Geometric designs like the El Mar pattern on this ceramic serving platter have a softer organic feel and set off food to perfection. Pieces with textured patterns, like this teal blue serving platter by Richard Esteban, are also attractive and functional.

Floral Motifs

From small, delicate blooms to bold blossoms, flower patterns are quite popular for blue and white ceramics. Classic and timeless, you can use a singular pattern for these blue and white ceramics or create an entire garden of patterns on your table. Some examples are the blue Las Flores design that edges white dishes and bowls and the abstract floral motifs of this blue and white salad bowl. Another idea? A blue and white pitcher with leaves – it looks great filled with a drink or fresh flowers.

Animals

Whimsical and fun, animal designs can bring a bit of the unexpected to your dining. Choose birds, fish, roosters, or another favorite to enliven your meals. I find that animal serving plates are always a hit as there’s a surprise revealed when all the food is gone.

Handpainted animals ensure plenty of personality as no two are exactly like, such as with this playful blue and white fish serving bowl.

Solid Colors

Of course, patterns aren’t for everyone. But that doesn’t mean white dishes or solid blue dinnerware need to be boring. Pick unique shapes like this long blue serving plate or modern espresso cups. Layering a blue dinner plate with white ceramic dishes of various sizes also gives depth to your place settings. Think too about mixing different shades of blue, from pale celadon to deep indigo. No matter the shade, your delicious meal will certainly stand out.

What blue and white ceramics are your favorites for the table? Do you use blue dinner plates, white serving bowls, or a mixture of these colors? Leave a comment below and let us know!