Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Inspiration : The Two Great Classics, Martha & Ina
There are two books that I will always love and consider to be my favorite all time examples of entertaining, "Great Parties" by Martha Stewart, and "Parties!" by Ina Garten. I remember reading each of these books for the first time (shortly after college) and being so inspired by the casual, chic style of each "party." Maybe I was so moved because it was the first time I had seen books completely devoted to casually elegant entertaining? The parties weren't terribly fancy or pretentious feeling (no fine china or lace in site), but they were parties that I could envision myself hosting - in a dream garden of my own... in the Hamptons, of course ; )
Without a doubt these two books were the cornerstones of my first business, Occasions Entertaining, that focused on "small to medium-sized events" in my clients' homes. I would tote these two books to my meetings with dog-eared pages to show my clients.
Great Parties by Martha Stewart, 1997
Having moved six times since first starting my business 10+ years ago, I somehow forgot about and misplaced this "Great Parties" book by Martha Stewart. Last week, I was racking my brain and googling like crazy to find a photo of an outdoor party by Martha Stewart that I knew I had seen somewhere... but couldn't find it online anywhere. Then, I came across a cover shot of this book and it was like complete deja vu. I ordered it instantly (used from amazon, it is now out of print!).
Each page was a trip down memory lane. I remembered each and every featured party and it completely reinvigorated my love for casual, elegant, chic entertaining. Thank Goodness it is spring and the height of outdoor entertaining season, because almost everyone of my favorites from this book is set outside in a lush garden.
Inspiration is so huge for a person like me. I find it everywhere. New inspiration is like gold. When you have written so many posts and executed so many parties, it can feel like you've done it all. Old inspiration that feels new again (revisiting it 10 years later!) can be even better because it is the original flame - feeling that new excitement all over again is so special.
Here are some of my favorites :
I can't tell you how many wedding showers I did that started with this page! This page started my collection of cake stands and mason jars, too.
This book is Martha in her heyday, when things seemed simple, effortless and lovely. This seems like a world away from the crazy DIY, trend following, modern-chic, urban-chic, vintage-chic, farm-to-trend, everyone copies everyone, everything looks the same pinterest world we live in today. I promise, my only soapbox of the post! I just miss the old days of real parties in real homes with classic style as inspiration : )
Do you recognize this garden shed? This book was my first exposure to Ina, when she was just a shop owner and a friend of Martha's from East Hampton in 1997.
I'm fairly certain my own wedding was based on this feature.
This. This is my dream. Thank you, Martha, you have just secured my need for a country home with a skating pond to host a party just like this. Mike thanks you, as well ; )
Why have I never made ice lanterns?! I will be re-stocking my white glassine bags for cookies after seeing this post - I remember how obsessed I was with them when I first started my business. Every cookie I made was in a glassine bag.
Sweet, sweet original Ina. I love all of the color she was embracing. I know people don't always realize this, but there was a huge shift in design color palettes after 9/11/01. In 1997 no one would've dreamed of painting their entire house grey. I'm as guilty as anyone in my love of neutrals, but seeing this feel so happy, easy and comfortable.
Ina's garden and her original crew - Frank Newbold and Martha included. Always fun to see someone before they are someone. It reminds me of when we were seated next to her for dinner in East Hampton - so normal and sweet.
Being a Midwest Farm girl, I love all of this... but I can tell you it was probably very staged, as no real farming family I know has ever set up a family picnic party like this : ) I still love it.
Yum! What a spread.
Love this imagery so much that I bought sour cherries at the store yesterday... I need to find a producing cherry tree this summer!
Another feature that inspired so many baby showers and bridal showers for my clients.
I am aching for this setting - I want the plates and those flowers. And the chairs.
Love this cake with broken pieces of brittle on the sides. Those flags made of ribbon are darling, too. I maybe copying one of these shortly (fathers day?!). This cake would look spectacular with some of my Celebration Candles (also a favorite of Martha's).
"Parties" by Ina Garten the Barefoot Conessa
The other book that is well worn, but still in constant use is the Barefoot's "Parties!" cookboook. Yes, that is probably chocolate on the spine... from many years ago when I was making her flourless chocolate cake.
I read somewhere that Ina and Martha first bonded over building their new "old homes" in East Hampton.
Everything thing in this book, like Martha's, is timeless. Both were written almost 20 years ago, but I still love every single page.
How many of us dream of spending our days like this? This is probably what I thought my business days would look like - sometimes they actually do now, but when I was running my event planning and catering business it looked a lot different!
I love that Ina isn't afraid to set a table wherever it fits. She gave us the courage to not "need" a formal dining room. Did you know that Ina uses Creative Candles, too? My sales rep says Ina's assistant calls her orders in for Tapers to keep on hand.
I love this. I love the blue and white, I love the muscari and I love that coffee cake on a pedestal dripping with glaze.
Such a pretty setting with beautiful color.
Don't those glasses look familiar! That combination of roses is so stunning. I can always tell when a book was shot - though they are going for a fall table, it still looks like summer.
My love affair of parchment paper starts here!
Stripes are never out of style.
I used this photo as inspiration last month for Joy's birthday party dinner! Emma picked it from the book. See those 6" Celebration Candles?
One of my favorite recipes of all time. Herbed grilled shrimp with pesto pasta.
Are these the same green plates from Martha's book? Ok, I might have to add to my white plate collection : )
Do you have timeless sources of inspiration? I would love to know what copies of books and magazines that you keep around. I would also love to know about bloggers out there doing timeless, classic posts - such magic when you find a good one!