Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Preparing An Independence Day To Remember

The USA has a birthday that’s just around the corner, and it’s time to think about how we’re going to celebrate.
Here are some tips to help create a delightful and delicious 4th of July gathering.

Decorate with Vintage Americana
I like my 4th of July decorations to make a statement. Over the years, I’ve acquired a collection of vintage flags and Americana, which I mix and match with newer decorations and dinnerware. I find that incorporating vintage and antique decorations into the mix adds some soul to the aesthetic of the event.

There are numerous inventive ways you can decorate with your flags—place smaller flags in a vase as a centerpiece on your table, or use an extra large flag as a tablecloth.

You can collect vintage flags and decorations at flea markets or your local vintage store. You can also find some gems online at sites like Etsy and even eBay.

Always have a set of 12 white dinner plates and 12 white napkins.  This is one of my little secrets.   Doing this allows you to mix and match salad plates to create hundreds of possible tablescapes, depending on the occasion.  For Independence Day, choose a patriotic-looking or an Americana salad plate.  If you don’t have one, find red or blue---after all, you’ve already got the white in your dinner plates!

Coordinate Your Costumes
To create a more festive feel for the event, encourage your guests to wear red white and blue clothing. The sillier, more flamboyant, and outrageous the clothing, the better.

Make One Special Drink
Make sure to have all the usuals—juice, beer, wine, water, and soda—on hand. In addition, make one special, summer-themed punch. This one drink can bring a surprising amount of cohesion to your meal and the event as a whole. Drinks that feature a refreshing summer fruit like peach, watermelon, or strawberry are always well received on hot days.

American Food with a Twist
Because the 4th of July is all about celebrating America, and America is famous for its cultural and ethnic diversity, take a truly American approach to the holiday by incorporating your family’s food heritage into traditional American dishes. Make hamburgers with the spices traditionally used in your ethnic background. The same thing goes for pies, ice cream toppings, and fruit salads. Prepare a traditional side dish unique to your family’s heritage.   Better yet, ask your guests to showcase their heritage through a side dish they prepare.

Honor US History
When my children were little, one of the things they loved most about the 4th of July was putting on an annual play. In the play, we reenacted important moments in US history. We performed Paul Revere’s famous ride, a scene in which George Washington asks Betsy Ross to sew the American flag, and the Martin Luther King Jr I Have A Dream Speech. We interwove these important events with the story of our own family in America, starting with our ancestors’ arrival to Ellis Island. We always ended the show with a rousing rendition of “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Putting on a play can start with a fun brainstorming activity in which you ask children to think of important events in America. Later you can turn these into the plot for the play. Pick up a few white wigs and tricorn hats at your local costume store to add to what you have at home, and costumes won’t be too hard to devise.

Good, Old-Fashioned Games
Organizing a few games throughout the day, like croquet, bocce ball, Frisbee, softball, or charades, brings guests together and creates a spirit of conviviality.  On those sweltering Independence Days, have a water balloon toss with the kids.
Every state has different laws when it comes to setting off fireworks, but no 4th of July celebration is complete without a few flashes in the night. At the very least, make sure to have some sparklers.

Family Tradition
Whatever you decide to do, make sure to create family tradition.  Teach your children about their own heritage and how it plays a part of the American Dream.  As I mention in my book, Coming Home: A Seasonal Guide to Creating Family Traditions, celebrating any festive occasion is always richer when personal meaning is attached.

Note:  Photos by John Granen, for “Coming Home,” published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang


Monday, June 20, 2011

Fifth Annual Tablescape Contest

Years ago, people would invite a neighbor or friend over on the spur of the moment for a cup of coffee, dessert, or for a weekend grill. Our day-to-day lives have become so busy in recent years that dinner parties are planned 3 months out.
Part of my belief in creating traditions is to foster relationships and connections through daily rituals and traditions. Much of the joy in my life has come from informal get-togethers.

This year’s Tablescape Contest Theme is “The Spontaneous Gathering.” It’s time for you to set your table for the spur of the moment get-together. Use your creativity, mixed with Rosanna collections, and remember spontaneous gatherings don’t necessarily take place at the dining room table. Share with us the story behind your tablescape design. Winners will be chosen by Rosanna herself. So join in for your chance to win a $500 Rosanna gift certificate, and be featured on Rosanna’s Table Talk blog.

New This Year
Starting on July 11th, we will choose a Table Of The Week to showcase on our Facebook, Twitter, and social media sites. At the end of the contest, all the Tables Of The Week will be entered into a drawing to win an additional prize.

Get Setting Now
Our Fifth Annual Table Setting contest will start on July 1, 2011 and end on August 31, 2011. Winners will be announced shortly after.
For a little inspiration, take a look at the photographs from our last few contests:
1. Anyone with a passion for Rosanna-ware and tablescape design is welcome to compete, regardless of age. 

2. Set the table for at least two. No actual food or Rosanna products is required.

3. Contest begins on July 1st, 2011 and ends August 31st, 2011 at 11:59pm PST.

4. Submit up to 2 photos of your tablescape and the story behind the design. Digital submissions must come as jpegs, around 4x5 inches, no less than 72 dpi and no more than 180 dpi.

5. When entering, make sure to include your name, your city, and an email or phone number where we can reach you. We respect your privacy and will not give out any of your information.

6. Photos in hard copy will not be returned.

7. Rosanna Imports, Inc. reserves the right to use and/or publish photos of your table setting submission however we see fit. Photos may be published on social media sites. Publishing does not necessarily constitute a winning entry. By submitting your photo, you agree to these terms.

8. Please email all enteries to info@rosannainc.com.
Mailed entries should be sent to:
Rosanna Inc
Attn: Tablescape Contest
6755 East Marginal Way S.
Seattle, WA 98108


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Connections & Traditions In Every Dish

The message behind every Rosanna dish is the same: slow down, appreciate one another, connect.

Photos courtesy of John Granen Photography;
from Rosanna's book, Coming Home
Human beings hunger for connection. That’s why a moment of relation to another is often the most fulfilling moment of a day. Because moments make up our days, days make our years, and years make our lives, continually seeking out new ways to connect with each other is of vital importance to our happiness.

I designed the collections below to help with the creation of daily rituals, which in turn allow people to bring connection into everyday life.

Happy Birthday & Petite Treat Collections
Creating traditions around common celebrations is easy.  Taking the Happy Birthday plates out on each family member’s annual celebration creates a tradition, a memory.  They can provide the vehicle to that special feeling experienced when one knows something exciting is about to happen.  The festive Happy Birthday plates can become family heirlooms and continue the tradition throughout the generations.  Moreover, our individual cupcake pedestals provide a quirky twist to a birthday celebration, making the celebrant feel extraordinarily special.  Or just use them to serve chocolates or cookies---either way the recipients will smile.

But tradition and connection should be regular and frequent.  I created our Gelato ice cream bowls to encourage people to gather together for a special treat—even if for no particular reason or celebration. Because, let’s be honest, who can say no to ice cream? These bowls also encourage us to eat locally or freshly, providing an ideal way to serve pudding or fresh berries.

The amazing and vibrant produce of Pacific Northwest farmers’ markets inspired me to design our Farmer’s Market bowls emblazoned with images of fresh vegetables. Hopefully, the images will inspire you to visit your own local farmer’s market, or at least use some of these delicious ingredients to cook a healthy meal for family or friends.

The claim that we have “no time,” is heard in an almost constant refrain these days. People have to plan dinner parties three months out because we are so overscheduled.  I designed our Primavera tea set to fight back against this predicament. Hopefully, it will encourage people to spontaneously call up a friend and ask them over for a cup of tea and a chat.  Spontaneous gatherings can be so much more fulfilling and less pretentious.

Whether over tea, during dessert, or at the dinner table, these are dishes that encourage connection every day. I myself am a passionate advocate of family dinners, featuring a home cooked meal, nicely set table, candles, and pleasant music. Studies have shown that children who come from families that sit down for a dinner together are better adjusted emotionally and intellectually. So, even if it’s just once a week, set aside a little time to spend with your family. We love connection because it makes us feel so good, but nonetheless it remains elusive. We need to fight to keep it in our lives every day. These dishes are my small contribution to this incredibly important campaign.
Note:  For more information about creating your own traditions, living mindfully,
and many of Rosanna's recipes, check out her book,
"Coming Home: A Seasonal Guide to Creating Family Traditions."