Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Pretty Christmas Table: Sequins, Butter Roses, and Sugar Bells

Grandma made a "butter rose" to grace the table of every special meal. She had a set of old spoons in graduated sizes (demitasse, teaspoon, soup spoon, etc.) that she kept on hand to make these. She would scoop a spoonful of the butter in the spoon, level it with a knife, and then dip the bowl of the spoon in ice water. When it had set a little, she would gently push it out of the spoon onto wax paper. Once she had a full complement of these "petals" she would freeze them. When they were good and solid, she would arrange them on a pretty round plate (salad plate size) in the shape of a flower--small petals in the center and larger ones to the outside.

For the sugar bells, she had an old small silver bell that had lost its clapper. (The bell had been used bedside for those confined to bed to call for her.) She would gently wet some granulated sugar (not too much or it would dissolve) and then she would pack it in the bell. Then she would gently tap it out onto wax paper to dry. After Christmas dinner, a crystal sugar bowl full of these sugar bells would be put on the table with coffee.

The dining table at Grandma and Mom's house was always set the same. They each had cherry dining tables. The table pads went down first, covered with a white table cloth (or in a pinch or in an effort to save the good white linens from small sticky finger--a white sheet). Then, a generous scattering of loose sequins (all shapes and sizes). To top it off and hold the sequins in place, a length of red netting from the fabric store. To finish the effect, a crystal punchbowl full of shiny glass ball ornaments framed with holly garland and red candles in silver candlesticks.

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