Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Very Virginia Dinner and Tablescape


Thanks for inviting me to participate in Centerpiece Wednesday!



I decided this week to repeat a fall favorite tablescape from last year. This was a fun one to do and contains many elements of autumn and my home state of Virginia -- I hope my new friends will enjoy seeing this for the first time and my old friends won't mind seeing this again.



Here we are approaching our Very Virginia tablescape. This sort of reminds me of the Colonial taverns of Williamsburg. One of my favorite places in Virginia -- It's where we went on our honeymoon.


A closer look at our centerpiece showing a pineapple, apples, magnolia leaves, oyster shells and peanuts. This probably seems like a strange collection..unless you've been to Virginia.


The pineapple is the colonial symbol of hospitality (we're not tropical enough to grow them here). However, you'll find many roadside stands selling bushels of wonderful Virginia apples this time of year.

I love the magnolia trees and their beautiful blossoms in the summertime. Virginia is also famous for peanuts and I don't think you'll find any finer oysters than from our own Eastern Shore. You'd see lots of this very sort of decorating in Williamsburg - particularly at Christmas time.


The tourism theme for Virginia for the past 40 years has been "Virginia Is For Lovers" -- it's won many awards and is as recognized as "I Love NY" and "What Happens in Vegas stays in Vegas". Virginia IS for lovers..not only for it's romance -- but for Beach lovers, mountain lovers, history lovers, hiking lovers, golfing lovers, wine lovers -- we've got a lot to love here. We are known as the Mother of Presidents - having eight presidents come from our state: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, WIlliam Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor and Woodrow Wilson. I believe that all of their homes are open to the public.

Here's a closer look at my tavern style place setting.


My black and white checked cloth napkins came from Walmart. The white napkin rings from eBay and the wooden cardinals came from an antique store. The cardinal is our state bird.


Here's a side view of our state bird.


The red transferware bread plates are Johnson Brothers Strawberry Fare.


Ready for the tabletop strip tease? First we have individual pewter soup toureens from ebay.


Red salad plates from Marshall's


We got three pewter plates when we got married and I've filled in with more from eBay in just the past two years or so. I don't know why this picture makes them look a little gold. My flatware has a shell design -- this came from a restaurant supply store.


An overview of our table top.


An overview of our center piece.


Hope you've enjoyed a look at Virginia on my tabletop. Now what would your "state dinner" look like?


When we honeymooned in Williamsburg, I had to get a cookbook.


One of our favorites, was brunswick stew from Chownings Tavern.



Brunswick stew and Smithfield country ham on a biscuit -- you really can't get more authentic Virginian that that!

Chowning's Tavern Brunswick Stew

1 stewing hen 6 lbs or 2 broiler fryers 3 lbs ea. ( I used a package of thighs and a package of breasts)
2 large onions, sliced
2 cups okra, cut (optional)
2 cups fresh or 2 cans 1 lb ea. tomatoes
2 cups lima beans
3 medium potatoes, diced
4 cups corn cut from the cob or 2 cans 1 lb ea. corn
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon sugar

Cut chicken in pieces and simmer in 3 quarts water for a thin stew, or 2 quarts for a thick stew, until meat can easily be removed from bones, about 2 1/4 hours.
Add raw vegetables to broth and simmer, uncovered, until beans and potatoes are tender.
Stir occasionally to prevent scorching.
Add chicken, boned and diced if desired, and the seasonings.
Note: If canned vegetables are used, include juices and reduce water to 2 quarts for a thin stew, 1 quart for a thick stew.
also note: Brunswick Stew is one of those delectable things that benefit from long, slow cooking. It is a rule in some Virginia homes never to eat Brunswick Stew the same day it is made as its flavor improves if it is left to stand overnight and reheated.

Thanks Susan for hosting Tablescape Thursday each week. I hope you'll visit her at "Between Naps On The Porch" for inspiration and temptation!

See ya!

88 comments:

  1. Martha--I went through a "Williamsburg" stage of life! Had lots of pewter, pineapples, and everything painted W'burg blue! So you know I LOVE your table! I did not know Virginia was famous for oysters. I have never been and it is one place that I would love to visit for the beauty and the history!

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  2. What a fantastic table setting!
    I love the red bread plates, everything goes so well together.
    Really interesting post, I enjoyed reading it

    Sheryn xox

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  3. Morning, Martha! Oh, what a lovely table and that centerpiece is gorgeous! I love it! You're good! Love your colors too and those little soup tureens. They're wonderful. Your food always looks so delicious!
    Thanks for thinking of my daughter.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

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  4. OH Martha!!! This will certainly go down as one of my fave tablescapes EVER! I just love the Colonial Williamsburg theme. Our family is going to be vacationing there next year and we are all so excited! I'm from a little farther up North, New Joisey and I love living on the east coast.

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  5. Martha-you really did a beautiful job creating that Williamsburg feeling. I love the centerpiece, and the place settings are perfect for your theme. My husband loves Brunswick Stew, I will have to try your recipe.

    Sue

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  6. Martha, LOVE LOVE, LOVE your tablescape and Brunswick stew. I will be copying your centerpiece idea!! :) Your napkin ring cardinals are very cute too!

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  7. I love Colonial Williamsburg. The centerpiece is a perfect using the pineapple as the symbol of hopitality along with the apples and magnolia leaves. I would not have thought to have added peanuts and oysters, but they fit right in. I like the red with the pewter.

    The last time I was in Virginia was when I went with my husband to Richmond when he had training for work. Richmond reminds me so much of Harrisburg. The are both state capitals and both have the river and both have the island. However, Richmond has all those beautiful boulevards with landscaped median strips. While he attended classes, I went to the botanical garden. I took a lot of pictures, but alas, did not save any digital copies to post.

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  8. I love your tablescape -so Virginia :)
    Joan at Apple Jack Lane and I are also fortunate to call Virginia home - loving it especially this time of year.

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  9. Dear Martha, Blessings to you from cold old Kansas!

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. This surely warmed many a Colonial belly.
    One day I hope to visit Williamsburg. I visit their web page often. It's one place I desire to see in the States!!!

    Your table looks lovely and I especially like the color of your dishes. Very nice.

    Happy Tablescaping,
    d

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  10. Martha all that red and black and white; your table from williamsburg is beautiful. The red bird on the napkins is so cute. This table does remind me of williamsburg. My hubby and I went there some years ago for about 4 days and we loved it.

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  11. Your table definitely looks very Williamsburg, and I love it. I also have a copy of that cookbook. Haven't used it in a while, but you may have just inspired me to get it out. I used to make the chicken and dumpling out of it all the time.

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  12. Gorgeous tablescape and I so enjoyed learning more about Virginia. I have never been there, but it's definitely on my wish list of places to see. Thanks for the info. Hugs, Marty

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  13. Your table looks lovely. My mother made Brunswick stew years ago when they lived in Georgia. It was great. Yours looks pretty darn good:)

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  14. Very, very Virginia! I love Williamsburg and you definitely caught the flavor of both the food and the decorations. :D Jewel

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  15. Thanks for stopping in! I LOVE your tablescape! Love the pineapple!!! I wonder if many people know the meaning of it....To one fellow GRITS to another! :)

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  16. Greetings from an I LOVE NYer..I love your table..some homey..the covered bowls are great and your centerpiece too.
    It all works so nicely together!

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  17. Your tablescape is very charming!

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  18. Good job and the food looked very tasty. I've been to Virginia before but was still confused by the pineapple thing, though the apples and magnolia leaves made perfect sense.

    I'm a bit too interested in this sort of thing for being a guy. I just got over here from I Need Mom and was so eager to read more.

    I can't wait to decorate my first home when I get out of school and have a real job!

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  19. It's all so warm and welcoming. The apple theme is great for this time of year.

    Lorrie

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  20. Hi Martha, Love the table love love love the center piece...
    xoxo
    Julie

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  21. Just beautiful!! Love the Johnson Brothers plates especially. The centerpiece is gorgeous!

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  22. Love your tablescape, Martha. My favorites are the pewters especially the soup bowls....Christine

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  23. Fabulous table, love the pewter with the red/black. The center piece is beautiful.

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  24. Very pretty! I really like the b&w gingham napkins with the red! Perfect!

    Katherine

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  25. I love the pewter--there was a place where I grew up in CT that made pewter things!! Brings back memories. Your tablescape does look Williamsburgish!!! Nice job tying in the Virginia theme!!

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  26. Gorgeous tablescape but I love the recipe even more. My family loves stew during the winter months and I am always happy when I find a new recipe to try. Thanks for sharing.

    Blessings,
    Elizabeth

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  27. I like my tablescapes to come with food. It makes them more real.
    The red plates, if the same color as the photo, are so rich and gorgeous. I think dinner at this table would be so much fun. Relaxed and fun.

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  28. Oh Martha! The table is just darling! I love the apples they are such a staple of the season to me! Have a great week!

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  29. Love the apples and all the red with the black and white checks, love love the combination

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  30. Oh Martha....I've always wanted to go to Williamsburg for Thanksgiving! This is a close second, just to be able to see how they set a table.
    The pewter is awesome & all your red dishes go great with it.
    Pineapples are VERY big around here since we're part of the Western Reserve. In Colonial times, it was brought in ships from the Caribbean region & highly prized. Its rarity, expense, reputation and striking visual attractiveness made it the ultimate exotic fruit. It was the pineapple that came to literally crown the most important feasts: often held aloft on special pedestals as the pinnacle of the table's central food display.That's how they became known as a symbol of hospitality!

    Your table makes me want to go buy a whole one right now! I also have a taste for Brunswick Stew too....I'm so easily influenced. :D

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  31. Love your tablescape. The black and red are so pretty with the checked napkins setting it off. I am intrigued by your Williamsburg cookbook. I think I had one of those at one time.
    Hugs,
    Sue

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  32. Martha, this is lovely and so very gracious!!

    Barb ♥

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  33. It's all so beautiful Martha!

    I think you've captured the Virginia tavern theme perfectly; it looks so warm and inviting. Nice job!!

    Happy TT and thank you for inviting us in.

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  34. Martha,
    I love your table, the centerpiece is just wonderful.Great collection of dishes. Thanks for the recipe it sounds like it would or will be very good.
    Sandy

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  35. Love your centerpiece....love the look and taste of a pineapple. I get the Colonial Williamsburg Catalog...love how they use fruit especially during the holidays. I want your pewter soup tureens. I love pewter. I have a set of pewter dishes. Thanks for sharing!

    Blessings~
    Tonya

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  36. What a fabulous way to highlight a beautiful state and beautiful Colonial Williamsburg. I love your table.

    Christi

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  37. You have certainly earned your name Miss Martha, I am blown away. Great job. The stew sounds great...I'm thinkin' on this cold rainy Ozarks afternoon.

    Have a wonderful day filled with blessings!!!

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  38. Love the centerpiece. I am going to Williamsburg for Spring Break and can't wait. I love it there. Thanks for stopping by my blog and checking out my tablescape. Have a great day!

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  39. I've always really enjoyed the Tavern look in rooms and settings. I think pewter is so great. I love your pewter and the black and red used to accent. Very nice...

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  40. What a beautiful tablescape. I luv the red & black!! Stop by. I have just opened Cottage Loft Boutique. Hugs, Connie

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  41. Love your centerpiece. Such a wonderful change from all the pumpkin related ones. The pineapple (for hospitality) just makes it perfect for a VA, or anywhere in the South, dinner table.
    Beckie in Brentwood, TN

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  42. very pretty setting, looks like a perfect stormy night meal too.

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  43. What a lovely tablescape. I absolutely love your gingham napkins and the recipe for Brunswick stew is a treasure. Have a great weekend.

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  44. Love this "tavern-style tablescape." Those pewter soup tureens are beautiful!

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  45. I love your beautiful table...everything looks so warm and friendly.
    Thanks for the stew recipe...

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  46. LOVE this tablescape! If this is a Williamsburg inspired setting then I sooo want to "tavern hop" in Virginia! lol Love the pewter,checked napkins and the way the pewter,red,black and white all work together and the pineapple centerpiece is so cool. Thanks for sharing this comfy tablescape...Virginia, here I come!

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  47. What a darling tablescape. I love your centerpiece, so unique and different, and I'm all about different. Love the checked napkins and your darling napkin rings. What a delicious looking meal. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Thank you for stopping by and saying hello and leaving such sweet comments, your visit and comments are so appreciated..
    hugs ~lynne~

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  48. How wonderful! I love the tablescape, the food, the whole theme...it does looks very "Williamsburg-ish".

    Have a great weekend :-)

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  49. What a beautiful table, Martha and the stew looks delightful!

    We had supper at Christina Campbell's when we were in Colonial Williamsburg a few years ago. We also brought home some of those Virginia peanuts.

    This post reminded me of a poster print, we brought home, from there. It was a gift with purchase and depicts Christina Campbell's. It's been rolled up and stored away. I just mentioned it to J and he dug it out. I think I'll try to get it matted and framed for the hearth room.
    Thanks for bringing back memories of our trip to Colonial Williamsburg.

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  50. Martha, your tablescape is fantastic! I really love the colonial Williamsburg feel of it. Those pewter plates are terrific. The Brunswick stew looks delicious, too.

    Jane

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  51. Mmmm! Nothing I like better than a great tablescape and some good home cookin'! This is beautiful (tablescape) and yummy (stew)!! When can I pick up a bowl? ;) Take care!

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  52. I love your centerpiece because it incorporates all the things we love about Hilton Head S.C. when we are down on the island. I had no idea how related the two state are.
    Joyce

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  53. Being a fellow VA girl, I absolutely love your table setting, especially the centerpiece. I would never have thought to incorporate peanuts or oyster shells. Very clever!

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  54. Hi Martha, I just love the state of Virginia. I honeymooned there and actually lived there for a few months when my husband was in the service in Charlottesville. I love going to Williamsburg...and touring all the James River plantations. Your tablescape is just beautiful and it's such a lovely tribute to your home state! Gorgeous centerpiece! :-)Susan

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  55. I am new this year so this is a huge treat for me!

    I love the state of Virginia, and Williamsburg is one of my all time favorite places to visit. I had a lovely conversation with Patrick Henry the last time I was there...He and I see eye to eye.

    This table is perfect...just plain perfect, from the pewter to the gorgeous pineapple and apple centerpiece.

    I'm so glad you decided to share it again for the newcomers like me!

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  56. Repeats are always good! This is fabulous. I would love to visit Virginia! Please come and link up to Centerpiece Wed on my blog today.

    Karin

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  57. I love this table, Martha! The stew looks delicious.

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  58. Martha, I am seeing this for the first time, and it is truly pretty. Love how you used different patterns of china- I especially like those butter plates. That is an amazing centerpiece using the pineapple and apples. Thanks for re-posting it. :-)
    ~ Sue

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  59. That is one of my favorite's Martha. Just love all those colors and textures together, so pretty!

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  60. A GRAND tablescape!! I LOVE the pewter and the reds together and I love the centerpiece...so hospitable :)

    Blessings!
    Gail

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  61. Oh, my gosh!!! I LOVE it! This is so cool!!! I am just about to cry over those pewter soup tureens and chargers! You thought of everything here! The state bird for napkin rings...genius! The oyster shells and magnolia leaves (something we can only dream of here in the Midwest!) are great! And what a cool way to display the pineapple! I have the book "Entertaining Ideas from Williamsburg", and this display could have easily made it onto those pages. Very nicely done! I'm glad you reposted this since I just recently started blogging. I would not have wanted to miss out! Have a good week!

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  62. Your table is beautiful! But, I am really lovin' your centerpiece!!

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  63. Hi Martha, as a fellow Virginian, I just adore your creative table. As a matter of fact, I have been on the lookout for cardinals, I am planning something with them very soon! I love how you incorporated all things Virginian!! Great job!

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  64. This is a table I could covet. I think the red and pewter are spectacular and the texture on those plates is just wonderful. I too love collecting cookbooks from places that I have been. This looks like a fun one.

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  65. Well you've hit on one of my favorite decorating styles. I love Williamsburg and the whole look. Thank you for sharing your take on fall in your part of the country.

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  66. Oh, I love this! Your centerpiece is so lovely and unique. The colors look great. I just love black and white gingham. Your napkins set everything else off so nicely.

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  67. Hi Martha,
    Well girl, you did your State proud! What a fantastic table. It certainly made me think of Virginia! I love your centerpeice, just priceless. You are a very clever lady...Thank you for sharing!

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  68. I collect pineapple motif items and really enjoy seeing your centerpiece design. It goes so well with your black and white and red setting...very inviting!

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  69. I love the Williamsburg tavern setting! Williamsburg is one of my favorite places, too. The pewterware is wonderful, and the centerpiece is just classic!

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  70. OHHH! OHHHHH!
    I have a magnolia tree and I'm gonna take some cuttings to use for decor. Thanks for the idea. BEAUTIFUL!! I think I could actually smell the Brunswick Stew simmering on the stove.

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  71. How pretty! I love the pineapple centerpiece and also the bird napkin rings....Christine

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  72. Your table reminded me of a darling place we ate at whilst in Williamsburg. I love the apples, pineapple and magnolia! Great pewter pieces.

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  73. We loved Williamsburg! The pewter soup tureens are perfect! I kept wondering where's the Va. ham, then there it was at the bottom! The stew looks delicious as well! The cardinal birds on the gingham napkins are such a nice touch! Great job!

    Katherine

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  74. Your tablescape beautifully captures the spirit of Williamsburg. I remember seeing the apples sitting in windows, and in niches on the sides of some of the houses. You've brought back some wonderful memories. Thank you for sharing your charming tablescape. Cherry Kay

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  75. I actually do remember this one (nice to know my brain is working) and I still love that centerpiece. It really is beautiful, I love the magnolia leaves. So pretty!

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  76. Love the centerpiece, in fact the whole presentation. I would like to borrow your salad plates to go with my Johnson Bros dinner plates!

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  77. That is a beautiful table, and I LOVE those Johnson Brothers plates! I loved living in Alexandria, when I first moved to the DC area. My ex-husband is from Richmond so I spent a lot of time there also. My great grandmother was from Danville, and was a first cousin to Nancy Astor, but I have actually never been to Danville. It is a beautiful state with pretty much everything!

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  78. I love your tablescape and I love Virginia. Actually my middle name is Virginia but that is not why I love the state. The state is just beautiful and it's people are friendly. On your table I love the subtle reds. It personifies the color of autumn.
    Thanks for visiting my blog and I appreciate the kind comments.. I have viewed your tablescapes for quite some time as I followed the TT party for over a year before jumping. Thanks Again, Ginger

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  79. I have always wanted to go to Colonial Williamsburg. Thanks for taking me there! So neat to get the stew recipe. I have a lot of this pewter. I love your tablescape and I love the strawberry plates. That's a Johnson Brothers pattern I hadn't noticed before, it is gorgeous! Thanks for stopping by.
    Sherry

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  80. I sure don't mind looking at this tablescape again...it's a classic. Those pewter soup tureens are awesome! I love the salad plates and of course the centerpiece is perfect for the theme. Thanks for posting it again.

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  81. Love your centerpiece & historic Williamsburg! My grandparents lived in Richmond, so I have a special in my heart for Virginia :-)

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  82. I haven't been to Williamsburg in forever. Your post really took me back. Thanks for this lovely memory.

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  83. You set such a beautiful table. Thanks so much for sharing the stew recipe.

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  84. Wow!! Love your Halloween table settings!!! My daughter and I go all out for Halloween as does a childhood friend...her mom and mine were like closest of sisters.

    I fell in love with your Virginia centerpiece. Plans on copying it at Christmas. I may add a few cotton bolls if there area any stragglers in the field when I go over to get my Thanksgiving and Christmas Hams from the Dardens in Smithfield.

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