When Life Hands you Lemons….Make Centerpieces!

Love love love the idea of lemons and limes as centerpieces.  Place them in the vase of your choice, with or without flowers, with or without ribbon, sliced or whole…and you have a chic, elegant, affordable, and colorful focal point to any table.


pics found at the knot.com and marthastewart.com

Alice in Wonderland’s Oxford

Oxford spires

When I think of Oxford, I think of spires and little nooks and crannies throughout the campus.  There truly are two parts to Oxford: there is Oxford the town and then Oxford the University.  The many pictures you see are often of Oxford the University, so do not fret when you walk out of the train station and you don’t see magnificent buildings with spires.

Oxford is also the home of Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland, originally entitled Alice Adventures Underground. Alice’s father was the Dean of Christ Church, the college where Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, otherwise know as Lewis Carroll, taught.  The story goes that on a ‘golden afternoon’ in the summer of 1862, Alice and her two sisters, Edith and Lorina, along with Charles were boating together when Alice asked him to, “tell them a story.”  Inspired by the lives of the girls, he spouted the tale of Alice down the rabbit hole.  After he told his story, ten-year-old Alice begged him to put it in writing for her.  Two and a half years later he delivered the completed hand-written manuscript to her, illustrated with his own drawings, as a Christmas present.

If you have read the “Looking Glass”, the Alice Shop is a must stop, being the inspiration for the Sheep Shop.  In actuality, it was a little grocery store just across the road from where the real Alice Liddell lived over 140 years ago in Oxford.  The shop was apparently run by a woman whose voice sounded like a sheep, and it was here that Alice used to buy her barley sugar sweets.  Today it houses books, memorabilia, gifts, and sweets, all based on the tales of Lewis Carroll.



Originally, there were no thoughts of publication.  It wasn’t until he was pressured  by several of his friends that he sought out publishing houses.  Lucky for us he published, since it has become a story told in almost every household, becoming almost as widely quoted as Shakespeare and the Bible.


Fun little anecdotes:

  • Many of the nonsensical characters and sOxfordettings were based off of real people and real places in Charles Dodgson’s life.  Those originally reading the books would have picked up on many of the references that are lost to readers today.
  • The White Rabbit was based off of the Dean of Christ Church college, Alice’s father, where he left dinner every night down a long, narrow, spiral staircase behind the ‘high table’ in the Dining Hall…hence comes the rabbit hole.
  • On the right hand side of the Dining Hall, at ground level, there are brass firedogs who guard the fire, and they have long necks…the inspiration behind Alice’s own neck growing long in the story.
  • In the Dining Hall of Christ Church, high on the left-hand wall, the fifth window from the entrance shows portraits of Alice and scenes from the book.  A secret find.
  • Neither of the Alice books have gone out of print since their first publication.
  • This pic look familiar?  It is also the dining hall for the Harry Potter films.


Other famous authors with a link to Oxford:

C.S. Lewis

J.R.R. Tolkien

P.D. James

Ian McEwan




Now Where the Heck is ‘Centre Ville’?

Here’s a little tidbit to help find your way around a new European town-

When driving to a new city or even walking off the train, one of the main concerns is, “how do I get to the historical part of the city” with all of the landmark sites?

Because most European cities are not based on a grid (far from it), this can be a daunting task.  The cities are not based on a grid system because originally the city built itself around the church.  Therefore, most cities take on a more circular system of roads.

This helps you because when you are in this situation, look for the signs that say “center of town” in the language of the country you are in.  Many times these signs include a picture of a ruin or a church or a castle.  These signs will start from when you exit a highway towards a city, and they will be there when you leave the train station.

This works because the church was the beginning, and the center of town surrounding the church usually also has most of the historical buildings to see.  Rule of thumb:  Look for the signs that read “centre ville”,  “centro”, “zentrum”, “centrum”, and the symbol:



Rustic Centerpieces and Favors

When holding an event in a beautiful setting, such as in the mountains, in a meadow, or on a farm, there is no need to be extravagant with your decor.  This is an area where you could save some money.  Many times, the extra flowers and sparkle may just deter from the beauty of the venue.

For centerpieces, I found this wonderful idea  for twig vases (thanks Martha Stewart).  It sounds a little strange, but the outcome is great!  So, for all your hikers, next time you are hiking away, pick up a bunch of twigs and create this rustic-chic vase.  Click here for the DIY instructions.

Another option using this same idea is to buy photo frames, glue on the twigs, and include a beautiful photo of the location to create unique favors for your guests.  This can be an inexpensive option for you that looks stylish (especially if you buy dollar frames from the dollar tree- hint hint), and will prove to be a memorable gift for your guests.

If you would like a more elegant option for your frame, here is a version using straw.  This is particularly appropriate if you are holding an event in a meadow or on a farm.  Who would have thought that twigs and straw would look so great with just a little glue and some extra attention?

Any other DIY ideas out there?