Tag Archives: Nordstrom

My Next Dinner Party


photo credit: Ashley Mayer


As for table decorating, it is hard to beat a simple, large plate whose design and color don’t compete with the food, a simple glass that makes the wine seems to float in air, a great big soft napkin of any color that strikes your fancy, and pots of field flowers (or weeds), or a few poppies. Lee Bailey 

Here’s an idea: assuming we only invite people whom we like to dinner, why not tell them just how much? This idea came to me when my husband returned home from a Rotary meeting one morning last week.

Our life in a nutshell: Paul seems to wake up dressed and push off like Superman. That’s what I called him back in the days he wore a three-piece suit to work. I hardly saw him. Whereas I rise slowly, brew a pot of coffee and write my Morning Pages–three pages longhand—followed by my gratitude journal entries, every day, before I even talk to anyone. So I knew something about what Paul was talking about when he said they were visited at Rotary by David Brooke, aka That Gratitude Guy.

A former Nordstrom store manager, for the past 7 years David “The Brooker” Brooke has been speaker, life coach, author, and teacher on the transformative power of gratitude, a self-described “social entrepreneur.” His message: “… no matter how stressful or tragic, (any situation in life) can be reframed and refocused into a fulfilling journey, by using the simple principles of gratefulness.”

Now I’ve probably been keeping gratitude journals longer than David’s been running workshops, so I know firsthand what he’s saying. To put it simply, starting each and every day with a gratitude list—five things for which I am grateful—has me looking up, not down. Getting off on the right foot, so to speak. Lord knows it’s way too easy to start off on the wrong one, and spend the rest of the day catching your fall.

At the breakfast meeting of The Rotary Club of San Juan Island, David passed out cards and asked each member to select a partner and write down attributes he or she appreciates about that person, then give the card to him or her. I read my husband’s card, written by a very new friend, and saw that he nailed it. All my husband’s best qualities on one card, which I have put away in a dresser drawer—to be taken out whenever I need to be reminded.

So at my next dinner party, I am going to borrow a page from David Brooke. We’ll each pick a partner and write down as many attributes as we can about the other for one minute. Then share it with him or her.

This I know before any consideration of food, wine, and what I love most, the linens and dishes and table setting—so much so that I dream of my late grandmother’s butler pantry. It’s a recurring dream of mine in which the pantry figures as prominently as any other room in the Connecticut manse.  Gram had more glasses and dishes than Crate & Barrel, and in the dead space above the mile-high cupboards, rolls and rolls of paper towels. She could house whatever she wanted to store in that pantry.

Gram would have loved Costco. And I would have loved parlor games.


Filed under dinner party, gratitude, table setting

What’s Pretty to Me Now



I must be living in man’s country. Just this week we met two more intelligent, good men who share my husband’s love of woodworking. Paul Bunyans of the Pacific Northwest, all of them. One by one, every house is giving up the garage or building a shed for a workshop. My Paul Bunyan’s intention is to sculpt with logs, but I’m putting in an order for a long organically-shaped “live” table as well.

Going rural changes things.

I have gone from browsing Nordstrom’s flagship store in downtown Seattle to leafing through Orvis catalogs in the mail. From loving linens to admiring homespun weaves. From manicured box hedges to an old growth forest. From a Pennsylvania bluestone patio to gravel rock. From candle light to bonfires. From dining out every week to eating in.

What is aesthetically pleasing to me now has changed. I can find beauty in firewood neatly stacked. In driftwood washed up on the shore at random. And hay, when it’s rolled in the fields later in the summer. I nearly go ecstatic; it’s like living in a French Impressionist landscape.

People with so much love in their hearts they plant daffodil bulbs in the wilderness, and make signs for art’s sake.

Euphorbia on a white fence, and English daisy in the grass. Mossy paths to anywhere. And anytime I come upon a cairn, it is magical to me.

At home: a deck that’s swept, a floor that’s swept. And the way cedar needles blend into the colors of my foyer rug so I may go awhile without vacuuming.

Rock and wood in the house. An antler wreath. Antique paddles made by my father-in-law as a young man. The ceramic Raku Fish by Tomfoolery Artworks on the wall swimming toward the sea. Our view from every room, every day.

It’s the things that were here, and are here, that we had nothing to do with. Our part, it seems to me, is to stand back and be in awe of it all.


Filed under aesthetics, going rural, moving to the country, woodworking