Recipes in this Story
Seared Nectarines and Angel Food Cake
Text by Krissa Rossbund
Photographs by Michal Venera
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.”