a new idea for a budget table setting

August 14, 2021

Last night we had a small party for ten, our monthly (except during covid) party group of 14 minus four who were traveling. It was fun and easy--we served BLTs, aka bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, which sounds humble but is a summer favorite in the USA, and maybe especially in California, and definitely in this household. Since our party group is a potluck I asked for two appetizers that were served during cocktail hour, two side dishes and a dessert. With all the help all I really had to do was bake the bacon (the night before) set the tables, and of course grow the tomatoes! 

How To Make A BLT:

Exactly half of the party last night were not born in the USA (Germany, England and Scotland) and were not familiar with BLTs. After last night they were all converts! The other half, the Americans, grew up eating them either in diners or making them at home during the summer. Like any comfort food, BLTs have variations from family to family and region to region, but at its most basic it is: 

Start with 2 slices plain white sandwich bread, toasted
Spread mayonnaise on each slice
Heap on some crispy bacon (How to bake bacon in the oven. I use foil, not parchment paper)
Add several slices of homegrown or farmer's market tomatoes
Add 1 or 2 leaves of crispy, flat lettuce, such as romaine or iceberg
Top with the second slice of bread and cut in half

While planning for this party, I discovered a new idea for inexpensive but beautiful tablecloths and have to share my find! Last month I wanted to replace my stained everyday kitchen table tablecloths with budget priced 70" square cotton or linen tablecloths. The large size is hard to find in a budget price and finding a natural fiber is harder still.  While at Target I saw a grey striped 72" square shower curtain, all cotton, for the bargain price of $20.  It had buttonholes on one side which were barely noticeable so I purchased two. I was so thrilled with how they looked and how beautifully they behaved in and out of the washer and dryer, I went online to see what else Target had in cotton shower curtains that I could use for tablecloths. Good old Target did not disappoint!  I bought three more beautiful cloths that I used for the party and with fresh white napkins and plates, and plain, clear glass wine and water glasses, my table settings looked happy and summery and I was thrilled. Below are closeups of the fabric and the discreet buttonholes. If you do use shower curtains as tablecloths, make sure they don't have metal grommets for hanging: they should have discreet buttonholes like these. I received many compliments! Shopping links are at the end of the post.

Our Northern California weather, no matter how warm it is during the day, is generally cool in the evenings and everyone knows to bring a shawl. Luckily the night was gorgeous and we didn't need them until close to 9:00. The drinks table above sits on the lawn under a large umbrella. That sunny yellow "tablecloth" is my favorite! Next to the table I had a cooler filled with ice and white wine, beer and sparkling water--perfect for a summer evening. My flower garden is bursting with color and variety and looked so pretty last night. The arrangements consisted of zinnias, dahlias and white shasta daisies. The fillers were purple basil and marjoram, both of which were in flower, and a few olive branches. 


I see some of them are $40 but the four I bought, links below, were $20.

Each post I'll try to remember to share what I'm reading--not everything I'm reading, just what I loved and recommend. I read a lot of murder mysteries and so many of them aren't good, but this one is good: Dream Girl by Laura Lippman, 2021. The main character is so incredibly dense about himself it made me laugh. The ending had a twist I did not see coming. Not heavy, but thoroughly enjoyable.

Reading now: The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict, 2020. Biographical historical fictional account of JP Morgan's librarian who was a black woman passing as white. Loving it.

Next up, maybe: When Crickets Cry, 2006. Did anyone read this and like it? It was recommended to me so I'll give it a go. I don't mind giving up on a book if I can't get into it. As always, any book or author recommendations are always welcome.

Hope you are enjoying the remains of summer. I'll try to be back soon. xo Kristen

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  1. Clever girl! Love the shower curtain idea

  2. Clever girl! Love the shower curtain idea

  3. What a great idea for a tablecloth! I have come across some really nice shower curtains there. Kristen, if you enjoy memoirs as I do, I am almost finished reading "It Was a Great Idea at the Time" by Moira Hodgson. The daughter of a British diplomat she had lived in Egypt, Lebanon, Sweden and Vietnam by the time she was 12. As an adult she ended up as a writer and restaurant critic in New York City. A lot of laughs and a few bumps in the road along the way. Recipes sprinkled throughout, including a Moroccan tagine. It may be hard to find. I got my copy at the library. I really enjoyed it. Chloe

    1. Thank you so much for the book recommendation! I did an online search within our library district and they don't have it. But I'll keep looking. I can always request it from my librarian, and if it is in any US library, sometimes they can do a borrow. I'll check. I used to be a weekly regular at the library, but confess I don't even know what hours they have as they were closed for so long.

  4. Good Morning Kristen,

    My goodness you have been busy….what wonderful bounty your garden produces….my favorite things about summer is all the fresh vegetables and fruit, and especially the tomatoes and corn. I am so jealous of all your homemade tomato sauce ….how delightful to pull out a jar on a cold day this winter.

    I am so impressed with all your creavitiveness ….your new tablecloth/shower curtains are amazing..what lovely table settings they made….sounds like it was great party.

    I have several book recommendations for you….The first is “The Sweet Taste of Muscadines” by Pamela Terry….I really enjoyed this book…I thought the writing was beautiful, though a few on Goodreads said they thought too flowery…it is a great story about family dynamics and has a mystery too….and of course the heroine is creative, spins and loves dogs…The author is also such a person, knits, gardens, writes, travels and has 3 dogs. What is there not to like? If you look her up, she kinda resembles you a little bit. I can’t wait for her next book. Muscadines was a debut book and my library didn’t have it, but we have a wonderful system here called Zip books, where you can request up to two books a month and if they are approved the library buys them and Amazon ships them to you in a couple of days. I have ordered at least 10 books this way and have never been denied a request. Of course you have to return them to the library when you are finished.

    I have tried to stop buying books anymore, except for the rare exception. Too expensive and takes up too much space in my little house.

    The next two books are by a local writer who lives in Pacific Grove…She is Indian and her first book was “The Henna Artist”. Again I really enjoyed this book and learning about the culture. I am reading her second book now…which is the second in a trilogy…called “The Secret Keeper of Jaipur”. The author is a very accomplished woman Alka Joshi.

    Another book I highly recommend is “The Lightkeepers” by Abby Geni. It is a book about another strong and creative woman( a nature Photographer) and is also a mystery/sorta documentary…wonderful descriptions and well researched information about whales, seals, birds and sharks of the Farallon Islands….a very interesting read...I thought beautiful and arresting descriptions…

    I am embarrased to say I haven’t read anything by Kristen Hannah…a lot of my friends have and recommended also, so I am planning to start soon. I definitely want to read “the Personal Librarian” and the mystery “Dream Girl”. And I am still knitting on my Cloudbreak shawl by Melanie Berg but almost finished…it was fun learning a new stitch to me…called the rainbow stitch. I’ll send a picture…I wish I could knit sweaters, but they are difficult for me.

    Well, I’ll end this ramble, I have to prepare for hosting my Mah Jongg group today…Have a nice Funday Sunday.

    All the best,


    1. Thank you! I was able to wait list both The Henna Artist and The Lightkeepers. Thank you! I love having good books to look forward to. Next week I'm going to pop into our library and see what they have for interlibrary loans and Zip! Never heard of it so thank you. It's a great idea! The good old library. I used to read my magazines there too. I've really missed going there the last year and a half. The Sweet Taste of Muscadines was not in the catalog. I'll see what they say about it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Good books are such a gift!

  5. Oh I hope you try Interlibrary Loan, Kristen. It is a recently published book, so I think it should be easy to find. They once unearthed an ancient copy of Dress Doctor, Edith Head's book on her life as a movie costume designer. It arrived six weeks later from across the country, tattered and torn, from a library in what else, Hollywood, Hope you find it - it shouldn't take that long - and enjoy it as much as I have, Chloe

    1. Yes! I'm going to the library next week, we have Carter this week and there is no room for anything but him!, and see what they say about Interlibrary Loan. I love the idea of Edith Head's book! It's not in the library catalog either but maybe I can get the same Hollywood copy! lol.

  6. Amazing work! Wonderful tables and flowers. My best compliment! Could you explain how did you take measures, cut and hem the tablecloths? And another question. How do you mantain your white napkins so white and stain free? Thank you very much for your posts. I love to read them!

  7. Hello! The beauty of using these shower curtains was that I didn't need to cut or hem! My round tables are 54" diameter. The 72" square gave approximately 9" drape all around, which is very nice. I also just washed them for the first time and they laundered beautifully and came out of the dryer needing no ironing. And they are 100% cotton! I'm very happy with them.

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