Monday, October 24, 2011

Vintage Cocktail Trays

Vintage cocktail trays

The mid twentieth century was a great time for cocktail parties. Housewives had the time to make all those cute little hors d'oeuvres in what, for some, became like contests, featuring bread cut into fanciful shapes and topped with artistic designs made of cream cheese, canned shrimp, olives, and pimentos; all served on tiny, individual trays called cocktail trays.

There are still lots of these cocktail trays around. Flat, and stacked neatly, they did not take up a lot of room. You can often find them at thrift shops and yard sales at bargain prices, though I have seen a few at online shops that sell for a pretty penny. 

I think a modern cocktail party would be fun - everyone dressed up in vintage cocktail attire for a wink at sophistication.  Offer your guests handmade hors d'oeuvres, or use the little trays to serve sushi. 
The colorful plastic trays  pictured at the top of the page came from a larger set in a rainbow of colors.

Vintage cocktail trays

The attractive papier mache covered cocktail trays pictured above were made in Japan and have a tag on the bottom that says "alcohol proof."

 I'm not sure what they were thinking when they came out with these metal cocktail trays featuring silhouettes of people from Victorian times. Maybe they would work better at a tea party. 

Vintage cocktail trays are also nice to keep on a bureau for stray keys or change. They make lovely coasters or snack trays as well. When I was a little girl, we used the colored plastic trays for tea parties. That's probably why I no longer have the full set.

Dried Roses for a Vintage Floral Design

Dried roses mixed with dried hydrangeas
Roses dry out surprisingly well, and easily too! I discovered this when my husband dead-headed some rose bushes and tossed the spent flowers into an old iron pot set on the porch steps. It was a dry summer, and the roses, forgotten, dried beautifully. 

Another accidental incident of dried roses - at the home of a very busy lady, I  noticed that she had let a huge vase of yellow roses go dry. Totally dry. The stems were shot, but I snipped off the flowers, took them home, and arranged them in a shallow bowl. Without using silica gel, the roses retained their color, fading to a lovely vintage shade.

These roses were hung upside down in a dark dry area for a bit over a week. I loved the muted tones and the vintage look, that soft, buttery yellow. 

When drying roses, it is best to use buds, or flowers that have just begun to open. Roses in full flower will lose petals if dried. 
Dried roses

I think dried roses would look very pretty added to an herb wreath, or mixed in with some dried lavender, or even tucked into some evergreens in a Christmas wreath.

Dried roses

The yellow roses on the left are mixed in with dried lavender. The color really stands out against the dark wood, and brown pitcher. I think they look so bright due to the light coming in from the window on the left.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Christmas Sachets With Balsam Needles

I love the scent of balsam at Christmas. It seems like the iconic aroma of the holiday season. It's easy to make these cute sachets for gift giving or to add scent to your own home. The scent lasts for years.

I asked the local Christmas tree dealer if I could take a bag full of fallen balsam needles. Of course, he did not mind one bit. Here is how to make these simple holiday sachets:

First, you need to dry out the needles. Place a layer of balsam needles on a cookie sheet and set in an oven heated to 200 degrees F. Bake the needles for ten minutes, then turn off the heat. Allow the needles to remain in the warm over, turning occasionally to ensure even dryness. Let them sit in the oven overnight, or repeat the procedure until the needles are fully dry. The whole house will smell like Christmas!

Cut fabric scraps into small squares. I like to use material that has a vintage look. To add that aged look to newer fabric, steep the squares in a tea bath.

Sew three sides of the fabric squares. Turn so the rough seam edges are inside the fabric packet, like you would if you were making a pillow. Stuff with the dried balsam needles. Make sure the needles are totally dry. 

Neatly hand sew the open edge closed. You can add a ribbon at one end for hanging.