Today I’m bustling around my house, getting ready for a girlfriends brunch tomorrow morning. We do this every month or so: gathered together with a spread of quiches and muffins and fruit, we chirp about domestic minutiae. Everyone catches up whilst drinking strong coffee. It’s so cozy.
This time we’re saying goodbye to a dear friend who’s returning home to Southern California. We had her for three years while her husband got his doctorate from the U of I and in that time she became a favorite of mine. Sweet and funny and genuinely gracious, I think she should have stayed here forever. But we knew this day was coming (not that that makes “goodbye” any easier!) and it will be a bittersweet brunch.
You’ll probably get bored with perfect Southern California, Danice. Why don’t you just stay here? We’ve got a new Sno-Cone truck in town.
As brunch hostess I have a few responsibilities: orange juice, carafes of good coffee, a clean bathroom and enough flatware for the crowd. Check, check, check.
But as I pull together the important hostess details (and tons of ridiculous, stressful, good-for-nothing details, like chasing cobwebs from a never-seen back porch), I often forget about the little touches that make these gatherings so cozy. The details that make a quaint brunch at home so much better than one at a restaurant. Potted candles by the bathroom sink, rolled green cloth napkins, soft music, and vases of fresh flowers.
As a girl who’s too practical for fresh flowers from the florist, I have come up with cheap ways to add fresh flowers to my gracious home. When the right flowers are blooming in my garden, I look to those first. Forsythia in spring, hydrangeas in summer and branches of red maple leaves in fall. Cut flowers from the garden are a no-brainer. But there are lots of times that my garden doesn’t have just the right vase-worthy blooms.
Then I turn to my hosta plants. For about half the year, my shade gardens bear big green hosta plants. Hosta leaves look simple and elegant simply gathered into Fiestaware teapots and silver julep cups and ceramic pitchers. Their leaves have a watercolored design that keeps them from looking boring-old-green. And, depending on the vessel, this fresh bouquet looks at home in most homes. I think they’re splendid.
Pictured at the top and bottom of this post is a hosta leaf bouquet that I plunked in an imported metal lantern. The rustic cut-outs nicely complement the graceful, classic form of the hosta leaves. And a clear glass of water, nicely hidden, helps turn almost anything into a vase: a punched tin lantern a rusted-out watering can, or even a bundle of burlap fabric.
Effortless and chic: perfect.