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A girlie, glamorous palette accents an afternoon of pampering
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The Golden Rule recommends that we treat others as we want to be treated. But sometimes we need to be nice to ourselves as well. So Catherine Bailly Dunne and Tanis McGregor, founders of Southern California’s Door Couture, suggest a luncheon and an afternoon of pampering with in-home spa treatments to reward a group of giving women who regularly contribute their energies and enthusiasm to a variety of charities.
“When you take care of yourself, you are better able to serve others,” says Tanis. Sometimes there is a guilt factor involved for women who may feel uneasy because of their own blessings, she explains, but it’s important for them to embrace and use their capabilities as well as accept generosity.
For this occasion, she and Catherine chose a palette both girlie and glamorous. The front door is decorated with a delicate water lily surrounded by paper petals imprinted with calming words such as relax, peace, and serenity to help establish the mood of the gathering. Inside, dining chairs with French silhouettes are painted ivory and upholstered in a gold-and-cream damask that implies formality without being too lavish. The fresh tone of the traditional furniture and the billowy, gold-colored silk drapery panels hanging over the French doors inspire an unabashedly feminine table scheme.
The two designers use modern dinnerware embellished with a pattern of organically shaped circles in colors ranging from orchid to peony to fuchsia atop an embroidered pale pink tablecloth. Like gilded molding that frames an oil painting, a gold charger anchors each setting so that the fashionable dinner and salad plates topping them read like artwork. Other gold accents act as jewelry. Gold napkin rings in the shape of flowers gather pink linen napkins. Bisque porcelain candle pots with silk key tassels tied to their gold leaf-shaped handles commemorate the gathering and serve as favors for each guest.
Glass elements on the table quietly add texture and color. At each setting, an elegant wineglass with a shimmery gold geometric bowl stands next to a pink water tumbler etched with a vine pattern. Clear crystal vases that can be placed in different positions are tipped on their sides so guests can enjoy the full effect of the profusion of roses cut from the hostess’s garden.
After dining on a healthful menu that includes grilled chicken on skewers served with tabbouleh, hummus, pita bread, and fruit-infused water, it’s time for guests to change out of their pretty party clothes into comfortable white cotton robes to receive their treatments--manicures and pedicures at temporary stations around the pool.
“The myth is that you have to do a big deed to be effective,” says Catherine. “But progress can be made little by little. Sometimes we get overwhelmed, thinking that whatever we do, it won’t be enough. But when you throw a pebble into a pond, you create ripples. If everyone does it, you get tidal waves.”
Photography: Michal Venera
The pretty table is set with “Syracuse” porcelain dinnerware from Robert Haviland and C. Parlon, “Rialto gold” wine goblets by Nason Noretti, “Feuilles” crystal water glasses by Theresienthal, “IT” crystal vases by Colle, and “Ilona” tablecloth from Settings by Mona. The “Adam Gold” matte flatware, “Brick” linen napkins, and “Dogwood” napkin rings are from TableArt. All items available from TableArt (tableartonline.com).
Friends Teresa O’Neal and Jana Barry indulge in tea and sweets by the pool while they wait for their treatments.
Luncheon planners Catherine Bailly Dunne and Tanis McGregor of Door Couture in Southern California.
Cut a clean, unwaxed small cucumber into slices. Place cucumber, a few wedges of peeled honeydew melon, and a handful of mint leaves in large pitcher. Fill pitcher with water. Cover; chill several hours or up to 3 days. Strain mixture; discard solids. Pour water into tall glasses over ice. Garnish with additional fresh mint. Makes about 8 cups.
To assemble this lunch you’ll need:
• Cucumber slices
• Grape tomatoes
• Sliced feta sprinkled with freshly ground pepper
• Purchased dolmades (stuffed grape leaves)
• Grilled chicken and tomato skewers (grill chicken breasts ahead of time with olive, salt, pepper, and oregano)
• Tabbouleh (recipe below)
• Hummus (recipe below)
• Pita bread
• Lemon wedges
• Italian (flat leaf) parsley for garnish
There is no need to cook the bulgur further for this salad--the dressing softens the wheat while the salad chills.
• 3⁄4 cup bulgur
• 1⁄2 cup chopped, seeded cucumber
• 1⁄2 cup snipped fresh parsley
• 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
• 1⁄4 cup olive oil
• 1⁄4 cup lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon snipped fresh mint
• 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon pepper
Place bulgur in colander; rinse with cold water, drain. In bowl combine bulgur, cucumber, parsley, and green onion. For dressing, combine olive oil, lemon juice, mint, salt, and pepper. Cover; shake well. Pour dressing over bulgur mixture. Toss lightly to coat. Cover; chill 4 to 24 hours.
• 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon paprika
In blender or food processor, combine chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, the water, salt, and paprika. Cover; blend until smooth. Sprinkle with additional paprika.
Seared Nectarines and Angel Food Cake
Fat-free angel food cake gets a crisp-toasty surface when grilled. Combined with grilled fruit, a few fresh berries, and a drizzle of honey, and you’ll have a super-fresh dessert without the fat.
• 4 ripe medium nectarines and/or peaches, quartered and pitted
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1/4 cup orange juice
• 1 7-inch angel food cake
• 4 to 6 teaspoons honey (optional)
• 1 cup fresh raspberries and/or blueberries (optional)
• Ground cinnamon (optional)
In small bowl, mix together ground cinnamon and orange juice. Brush nectarines with cinnamon mixture. Reserve excess liquid for angel food cake. For charcoal grill, cook nectarines directly over medium coals 2 to 3 minutes on each side. (For gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Cover; grill as above.)
Cut eight slices of angel food cake. Brush one side of cake slices with orange juice mixture.
Grill cake slices on rack of uncovered grill directly over medium coals 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Turn; grill 1 to 2 minutes more. (Or cook cake on griddle over medium heat 1 to 2 minutes per side.)
To serve, place cake slice on plate or bowl. Spoon nectarines on top or alongside. Drizzle with honey, top with fresh berries and sprinkle with additional cinnamon. Makes 8 servings.