Simple Fall Centrepiece In 5 Easy Steps

Simple Fall Centrepiece In 5 Easy Steps

Simple Fall Centrepiece In 5 Easy Steps

“Sometimes we are so busy looking for expensive ways to create the perfect dinner party”

Sometimes we are so busy looking for expensive ways to create centrepieces for our home or dinner table that we forget to look outdoors. Whether it’s summer, spring, autumn or winter the outdoors always offers simple organic foliage that comes at very little cost.

My local florist let me in on a little secret and pointed me in the direction of a beautiful field close to home that gave me the inspiration I needed to create a centerpiece that was organic, inexpensive and blended in with my elegant crockery (blog to follow).

My basket of foliage:

Dried Grass
Wild flowers
Wild greenery with small red berries
Freshly picked lemons
Pink Lady Apples I had in my fruit basket
String to tie each bunch of foliage together individually
Wooden Board adding a warmth to this basket of foliage


I used a simple method of layering the individual foliage in a tangled manner starting with the wild berry greenery then adding the wild flowers and dried grass. In order to stop the foliage from falling apart I tied each bunch with natural string.

Lastly I added the lemons, apples and cut the wild berry greenery into smaller stems adding them to create a softness to the arrangement.

Remember creativity comes from within and it should always reflect a little of you.

So excited to share my next blog that incorporates this natural foliage with an elegant autumn table.

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Inspirational Ideas Utilizing Greenery From The Garden

Inspirational Ideas Utilizing Greenery From The Garden

Inspirational Ideas Utilising Greenery From The Garden

Nothing beats the feeling of going into my garden, shears in hand and looking for a piece of foliage that will create a centre piece or focal point in my home

With the cost of flowers, it is far more cost effective to use greenery or foliage, it lasts longer and stays evergreen.  If you do not have access to a garden then greenery is easily obtainable from your local flower seller or even a friend’s garden. The look and feel comes from the container you use and how you place the leaves.  Don’t forget the rule, less is more! Greenery lasts forever, some up until 10 weeks or longer, saving you loads of money.  No matter where I am in the world, staying in a hotel, apartment or villa my first notion is to pick some form of greenery or foliage from a nearby park and arrange it in my living space.

5 various forms of greenery and how to use them as centerpieces or focal points in a home:


Tropical greenery can create a breezy vibe indoors. In fact, many floral shops carry tropical leaves such as monstera (delicious monsters), fiddle leaves or split leaves regardless of the season. These leaves can last for about 3 to 4 months and create a simple but elegant statement in your home or dining room table.  Definitely a plant with fringe benefits.

LARGE LEAVES create a bold & beautiful statement! To maintain free-flowing conversation at the table, keep your containers low so diners don’t have to duck around the plants to chat.
ALOES & SUCCULENTS, so versatile and last forever – they grow so easily in a little water and look fabulous. Love this edgy look. I absolutely love the texture of an Aloe and its densely clustered appearance giving an edgy, organic look and feel to a room or dinner table.
Smitten with this idea of RE-cycling old tea cups and using them to grow succulants or to create interesting centrepieces. I would use these for a tea party in the garden or even a alfresco evening grouping various teacups and even tea pots together.
Popular succulents –  all types of Aloe plants, cacti, Jade Plant, Maltese Cross, Mother of Pearl Plant, Miniture Palm Trees, Moonstones and Ponytail Palm.

VARIETY OF GREEN LEAVES… leaves are not just green, they come in various shades of green from light to dark, different textures, plain to patterned with acid-yellows, pale translucent greens, mottled grey-blues, etc. The variety is infinite and only limited by your ability to obtain different leaf types.

Last minute gathering – try this for your next easy and simple idea:

Gather an assortment of cylindrical vases in various sizes, along with large leaves in a variety of textures and colour striations. Put a bit of water in the vases and tuck the leaves inside for a natural display with a modern twist.

HERBS & VEGGIES…an ensemble of herbs give off a super fresh smell. My preferences are: lavender, feverfew, chamomile, rosemary,mint (I love their scent) and sometimes basil, cilantro and chives depending on the food I serve. If you want to use use herbs for a formal evening then styling is the key and the vessel needs to be clean lined. My advice is to use one type of herb, compact it in. Rosemary or mint would be my choice as they look awesome when compacted into a container.. Remember to treat them like flowers, herbs wilt if not kept fresh – suggestion keep them refrigerated until just before you need to place them on your table.

The use of  VEGETABLES – artichokes and FRUIT – fresh lemons make for an simple but effective table setting.


DO YOU HAVE ANY TRIED AND TESTED IDEAS – please comment and share with me as I would love to get you’re your thoughts and any suggestions.

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Winter Dinner Party At Home…Part 1, the table setting!

Winter Dinner Party At Home…Part 1, the table setting!

Winter Dinner Party At Home…Part 1, the table setting!

With 2017 well on its way and my life back on track after our move, renovations and the festive season I am excited to share our very first Dinner Party in our new home.

With 2017 well on its way and my life back on track after our move, renovations and the festive season I am excited to share our very first Dinner Party in our new home.

There is always something magical about hosting dinner parties at home and I hope my simple2elegant blogs inspire you to throw your own a little more often. Like most tasks in life, hosting a successful dinner party takes a little research, planning and preparation in advance to help take away the stress.

My basic rules of setting table:

  • Keep it simple
  • Have a plan
  • An elegant set of white crockery is a must
  • Keep to the colour hues of your décor in your home
  • Mix and match with different textured crockery or glassware where possible to add interest
  • Layering of crockery adds texture
  • Have a pre-planned idea of the table setting
  • Set the table the night before or in the morning of your dinner party – it takes away the stress
  • Simple centerpieces

Each place setting began with:

  • Glass chopping board in black and grey
  • large white charger plate
  • A textured felt placemat in grey
  • Layered the dinner plate
  • Adding an entrée plate.
  • TIP: to stop the plates from rubbing I find using a plain white paper serviette between the plates helps

This was our first dinner party in our new home and the start of many more to come. I wanted to reflect the clean simple lines that we have created in our new open plan space. I found inspiration for the table setting after opening a box of my South African collectables from  and my glass chopping boards that I purchased some time ago that get used as placemats from  The glass chopping boards are fabulous, adding texture and most importantly a very easy surface to clean afterwards. The chopping boards also became a great topic of conversation!

The centerpiece was simple and inexpensive to put together.  For those that follow me regularly I am sure that you have picked up on a trend that I absolutely LOVE. The use of garden GREENERY in all forms to give a pop of natural, organic feel to my home and table décor.  The centerpiece and fresh rosemary sprigs that were used on the serviettes added a natural element and worked well with the food that was served. More on this in Part 2 of my blog, The Menu!

Glass bowl

  • 1 Large frilly lettuce
  • Brassica (ornamental cabbage or kale)

Table set, food ready and looking forward to a fabulous evening with special friends! More in Part 2 of my blog!

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Chic Afrique

Chic Afrique

CHIC AFRIQUE trends and ideas that can add versatility to your entertaining style!!

Africa forever in my heart …

South Africa a place only once lived or visited can only be understood. The unique beat of a “rainbow nation” with its diversity of design and culture can only be understood once experienced. The earthy tones and pattern in this tribal mood board inspired me to write this blog. Africa is bold, colourful & resonates a beat that will forever be in my heart.



When decorating or table setting you always need to add your own unique style and personal touch. I love sourcing beautiful fabrics and unique pieces for my home. If like me you are not really good with a sewing machine find a good seamstress and have your tablecloth made up. A truly special friend “Barbara” from my homeland South Africa photographed this vibrant combination of design & texture that resonates “Africa”

Each piece of tableware in this African styled collection adds an eclectic of mix to this Chic- Afrique table setting. Never be afraid to add quirky & interesting pieces of tableware to your existing crockery collection. I love adding interest when setting a table, it makes for interesting conversation at the dinner table and makes your quests feel truly special.

Ankara” the fabric used in Africa that describes the brightly printed fabric that inspires African fashion. Ankara is not just found in clothes but also on bags, shoes, jewelry and accessories throughout the African continent. 

The Ankara design has changed dramatically since it´s inception as traditional fabric worn by folk in Africa and uniquely made in Africa. Today like most things you can source cheap “knock-off” Ankara pieces. These  are not the same as the authentic Ankara items that you can purchase primarily from African designers.” Source

As the years go by we are slowly settling into our new lifestyle in Portugal. The high paced life we lived in South Africa is slowly being replaced by an appreciation of all things simple. 

I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to create a new lifestyle in Portugal, with my amazing husband. This move has given me the opportunity to reflect on what makes “Maria” tick. Keep following me, there is a lot more to discover about this 50 something who has now decided that social media is my new way of sharing my lifestyle and passion for simplicity.

THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING ME and your feedback is always appreciated

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Summer, Coastal Tableware and Al Fresco Dining

Summer, Coastal Tableware and Al Fresco Dining

Summer, Coastal Tableware and Al Fresco Dining

It seems Al fresco is one those gatherings where friends linger longer…

  • Good quality white dinnerware.
  • A few additional dinner plates or side plates in soft shades of blue, mint green or patterned to add variety to the place settings. This allows you to layer your tableware.
  • Natural woven chargers or placemats to add texture
  • Coloured glassware to add a fun and relaxed feel to the table
  • White napkins always add a crisp look and feel. Add a personalized touch by using napkin rings or even a beach shell tied with some rope onto the napkin
  • Simple organic centerpieces: use greenery like succulents in beach sand or lanterns with candles and some beach shells added into them to add ambiance.

the food is always simple and the wine always flows.  A Portuguese girl at heart who absolutely loves spending time with friends and family. Our friends become family and family is always family. An Al fresco gathering signifies “out of doors and open air”. Al fresco, plan well and then you can relax with your guests and enjoy the moment.

A few essentials needed to style an AL FRESCO BEACH GATHERING. Don’t forget to decide what feel you want to give your guests. Will it be a rustic or an elegant experience??? Styling your table is half the fun of entertaining, then comes the good food and wineJ Dramatic hues of blue, white, mint green or aqua reflect the feel of BEACH so use these to add the softer touches to your table setting.

SIMPLE AL FRESCO FOODS to serve that can be easily placed onto the dinning table and passed around!!

A simple Tomato Mozzarella Salad

  • 2-3 vine ripened tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • fresh ground pepper


Spinach & Orzo Salad (I have tried this salad and it’s so light and fresh)

  • Fresh baby spinach leaves {I use the bagged spinach}
  • 1 cup orzo pasta, cooked and drained; chill until ready to use
  • 1/2 purple onion, sliced into bite-sized strips
  • about 1/2 cup Crumbled Feta cheese
  • about 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • Balsamic vinaigrette dressing


Combine all salad ingredients and drizzle with vinaigrette to taste. Toss and serve.

Grill some corn on a griddle pan and serve cold or warm

Lemon-Herb Chicken Grilled Breasts

  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves {trimmed of fat}
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Lemon juice from 1 1/2 lemons
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3/4 Tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • salt & pepper to taste

Combine all marinade ingredients together in a large zip lock bag. Add chicken breasts and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Preheat grill on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Add chicken breasts and cook for about 5 minutes per side, depending on thickness.

Remove chicken from grill and cover with aluminum foil to allow chicken to continue to cook, and for juices to settle. Internal temperature should reach 165 degrees F.

Serve over a bed of arugula with slices of lemon for garnish

I found this awesome menu on


For 8 dependable on how big your champagne glasses are

  • 1 bottle rose champagne
  • 4 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to the boil and boil till the sugar is dissolved.

Allow the sugar syrup to cool, then add the champagne. Pour into a shallow container and freeze for 2 hours, stirring regularly. Serve in small dessert cups.


Al fresco dinning is not only for hot summer nights. Transform the colour palette and menu and voila!! I Do you need some help to create a winter Al fresco gathering? Let me know, would love to help with some ideasJ

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A Home Needs A Few Pieces Of Crystal

A Home Needs A Few Pieces Of Crystal


A HOME NEEDS A FEW PIECES OF CRYSTAL to make a focal point.

For those that know me and those that are still getting to know me, I have an absolute passion for CRYSTAL and ELEGANT GLASSWARE.  It drives my husband crazy, how much glass can a “girl” have…never enough I sayJ. “Crystal” comes from the Italian term “cristallo” which, along time ago, was used to refer to Murano glass imitations.

Nothing sets a table off more elegantly than beautiful crystal with simple blooms. Use single glass vessels to create luxurious focal points in your home or table arrangements.

Grouping a set of Crystal Decanters together serves a Centerpiece.

  • Glassware allows for serving drinks stylishly.
  • The shape of your glassware adds flavor to wine and champagne.
  • Long-drink tumblers can be so eye-catching dependable on the drinks you serving.

Instructions on how to handle and care for your high quality glassware: HERE

Washing Instruction for good quality glassware:

  • Use a proper glasswasher
  • Leave to cool down before handling
  • Use a tray; do not carry by hand to prevent scratching
  • Polish using two lint free cloths
  • Polish, bowl, stem and foot separately – don’t twist
  • Store base down, never on the rim
  • Storage should be in correct racks individually tailored.

Feel free to share your thoughts on my blog and let me know about your ideas on using crystal pieces in your home. I am sure we all have some beautiful crystal hidden away.  Take it out and use it, life is too short to hide beautiful homeware waiting for just that right moment, the moment is always now.

A few Rules when handling connoisseur glasses:

Filling the glass:

Fill the glass only to the widest diameter of its bowl. This will ensure maximum development of the wine’s bouquet, and also provide the most elegant table setting.

Holding the glass:

The appropriately filled glass should always be held by the stem rather than the bowl, as heat from the hand could raise the temperature above its optimum and negatively influence the bouquet of the wine. Swirling the glass:

Carefully swirling the glass allows oxygen into the wine by increasing its surface area and helps release the wine’s rich, mature aroma.

Why and how to decant wines:

To decant wine means to transfer it from its bottle to a decanter or carafe before drinking. During storage or aging, wine can develop a solid deposit or sediment at the bottom of the bottle.

Decanting is an easy means of separating the sediment from the wine. It also helps the wine breathe, as the greater surface diameter lets more oxygen reach the wine than the bottle does.

Red wines should be decanted well before serving and allowed to rest at room temperature for up to one hour to allow the wine to fully develop its bouquet.

Wine temperature Before decanting/or serving wine, store it at appropriate temperatures (red wine 59-63°F, 15-17°C, white wines at 50-54°F, 10-12°C).

The proper serving temperature enhances the quality of the wine by allowing it to fully develop its characteristic aromas and flavours.


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