A Valentine’s Day tablescape, making beet roses, French Crullers and more!

This is going to be a kiss-on-the-cheek, “Glad to see you, hope you’re doing well, but I gotta run!” blog post because all that talk about sheltering-in-place propelling people to fix up their homes is true. It’s the silver lining of Covid-19 for the design industry: it’s booming! It’s so busy, in fact, it just occurred to me to tally the number of bathrooms I’m designing, as the number keeps growing, and it turns out that number is twelve. Twelve! All at once! Add to that two entire house remodels and there’s not a lot of time for blog posts.

But it’s almost Valentine’s Day, a holiday I’ve always loved because it’s about well…love and kindness and unlike all the other holidays where the corresponding merchandise (all-things-hearts) is tacky a few days later (Shamrocks in January? A Menorah in March? Easter Eggs in August? The style police will cite for such things!) all the things associated with Valentine’s Day (hearts, flowers, chocolate) are good year-round. So in honor of this lovely, love-themed holiday, here are some ideas to decorate for it!

Napkin ring made from a strip of paper bag that says LOVE. Valentine's Day table setting.

Here’s a use for all those brown paper bags we’ve accumulated while we’re not allowed to bring our reusable ones to grocery stores! I first made these “L-O-V-E” paper napkin rings for the cloth napkins at our wedding to add a homemade element to the table-setting. For a bit of nature, I tucked in a sprig of lavender. Did you know lavender has long been considered an herb of love and apparently Cleopatra used it to woo Mark Anthony (or so says the Internet!)?

Materials to make a DIY LOVE napkin ring for Valentine's Day. A paper bag, letter stamps, and sprig of lavender.

To create these, use scissors (or a paper cutter for more uniform strips) to cut strips 3/4″ wide from a paper bag. Make sure they’re long enough to wrap around your paper napkin and slightly overlap at the back. You’ll later use clear tape to tape the ends at the back closed.

A blue and white napkin wrapped with a napkin ring that says LOVE.

Use letter stamps or hand-write “LOVE”, “Happy Valentine’s Day!” or a dinner guest’s name on the paper bag strip. Wrap your napkin ring over your napkin folding the open ends of the strip in the back. Tape the ends on the backside closed to create a ring. Option: add a sprig of herbs or flowers. If you don’t have lavender on hand, here are some other herbs that are also linked to love.

Roses made from beet roots on a salad in a blue and white bowl.

These roses made from beet peelings are really easy to make–I promise! And they’re a perfect way to add some romance to your salad–or at least some healthy beets. 🙂

Remove the outer skin of your raw beet root using a peeler (I like this one by OXO because it creates peels that are fairly thin which makes them easy to work with). Make one long peel and roll it into a rosebud shape making it tightly wound in the center and looser towards the outside.

Making roses made from peelings of beets.

Use knives or toothpicks to hold the beet roses in place prior to serving. (I like to make them about 1/2 hour ahead so they have time to set). Use as a plate garnish, to add color to a salad, or to decorate a veggie platter or charcuterie board. Of course they’re edible and taste good, too!

Roses made from beets on a salad in a blue and white bowl for Valentine's Day.

Our tablescape for February has been these hands from IKEA (they are really the coolest things, so well-made and very reasonable) positioned to spell L-O-V-E in sign language.

IKEA HANDSKALAD hands posed in sign language to say LOVE for Valentine's Day tablescape.

Here’s a closeup.

IKEA HANDSKALAD hands posed on a dining table to say LOVE for Valentine's Day.

If you want something sweet to eat on Valentine’s Day, besides chocolate, I finally found a recipe for donuts that resulted in donuts that actually taste like they came from a donut shop: my highest praise for donuts. This recipe for French Crullers.

French Cruller donuts on black slate tray with sprinkles in a blue and white bowl.

Essentially you make choux pastry and fry it but instead of just plopping a spoonful of dough into the hot oil (which is, apparently, how you make beignets, I’ve since learned) you pipe a ring onto parchment paper and plop that into the oil, face down, and remove the paper after a few seconds of frying.

Making French Cruller donuts. Donuts piped onto pieces of parchment paper.

I’ve tried so many donut recipes that disappoint (and take much longer due to rising time), but these work. This little extra step of piping onto paper was worth it; they were so good…even hours later and cold!

Frying French Cruller donuts. Some still have squares of parchment paper on.

In other news, the sun made a brief appearance last weekend and we made a mad dash to the backyard to do some sprucing while enjoying the sunshine. One of the projects that provided nearly instant gratification was adding river rocks to an area of aloes we has planted around the base of a yucca tree.

Here it is Before.

Yucca tree surrounded by aloe plants at base.

Behold the transformative power of river rocks!

The After:

Yucca tree surrounded by aloe plants and river rocks at base.

I tried this English Oat Cracker recipe by Ina Garten and it was a hit. I must say, I never thought I’d be making crackers, but staying home all the time does strange things to you. Note: the recipe says it yields 24 crackers, but when I made it I had so much dough I was able to make four fresh batches (I’d make them “to order”, so to speak) of about 15 crackers or more so it made many more than the recipe suggests–which made us happy! 🙂

Making the dough and pressing even amounts onto parchment paper prior to baking the crackers is the only part that takes any work; once you have the dough (I stored the excess in the fridge in a gallon-sized Ziplock bag) you can have freshly baked crackers (which are quite a comforting treat!) nearly on demand!

Black slate serving tray with English Oat Crackers by Ina Garten Barefoot Contessa on them as well as cheese.

I bought this basket from Target’s Project 62 Collection with Studio McGee and decided it made a nice way to corral quite a few things on the coffee table–including the remote for the television which, prior to this, I’d hide behind a rattan lamp in the kitchen because I don’t actually like how remotes look. Now, we can have the remote within reach and a nicely styled coffee table, too. Win/win!

Note: If you’re interested in this basket, don’t hesitate too long as the Target collections with design empire Studio McGee tend to sell out very quickly!

A round rattan basket filled with book, rattan coasters, and a horn magnifying glass.

Here’s the big picture so you can see how the remote is fairly well hidden in the basket.

A round rattan basket filled with a book, horn magnifying glass and rattan coasters sitting on a coffee table. Orchids in a large faux clam shell in background.

And that’s a wrap!

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you your Valentine’s Day is lovely and filled with love!

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