willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs

Summer Entertaining

“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color.”
― Natalie BabbittTuck Everlasting

I am in total denial that there are only two weekends left until the symbolic end of summer. As this season nears its passage into the darker and chilled evenings of fall, take hold of the remaining days and nights and as the cliche goes…live in the moment! Continue to grab hold of summer and carry on as if it is the first day. I have never been one for putting up fall decorations until a day or two before the first day of fall. You will not find a pumpkin on my doorstep in the closing days of August or the opening ones of September where the dog days of Summer still have a tight grip.

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You will find them on the vines in the vegetable garden where they will be harvested a few days after Labor Day…but not in my outside decor. Even though I revel in all that fall has to offer, why rush out a season that we will wish we were partaking in, right around the cold and dreary days of February ?

Keeping that in mind, I have put together some of my favorite elements of summer entertaining, so that perhaps you can grab hold of one or two of them to help you send this summer out with great friends, fabulous fresh food and a memorable celebration!

1.Fresh Flowers

I do not think that I have ever had a gathering without some kind of fresh flowers. I LOVE them and always have. I vividly remember entering my friend Lynda’s house twenty two years ago with a fresh bunch picked from the garden of our old house. I almost dropped them on her floor as my friends jumped out at me to yell, “surprise.” I was pregnant with Kelsey and evidently they had duped me into thinking I was joining them for dinner…and of course I ended up providing flowers for my own baby shower.

Most of my summer assemblages are simple in nature. No fuss, no formal arranging…just whatever is available to be plucked from the bushes, shrubs and plants around me.

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Herbs often make it into the jar along with their flowers who sit right alongside them.

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2.Vintage Elements

There is surprise and delight in the unexpected.

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One of my favorite things to add to an outdoor patio or deck is an old whiskey barrel or stock barrel that is turned into a trash can. Isn’t it much prettier than your usual plastic or metal variety? Vintage folding chairs are another favorite which can be easily unfolded when extra seating is required.

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Vintage table cloths lend a breezy summer feel to any outdoor table.


I had this table made out of two old sewing bases I found and an old slab of wood. The bases do not match and the wood is a little bowed, but these imperfections make it all the more charming. The seating is a combination of inexpensive farm benches I bought years ago and two really cool iron chairs I purchased when we first moved to Willowbrook.

3. Comfortable and Unique Seating

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Aside from the dining seating I just spoke of, here are some more ideas. I found this old teak bench in Virginia and fell in love with the shape of it. Sitting all alone, it makes a statement.


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This chair is an original Adirondack with the original paint color on it. I will most likely repair some of the wear and tear after this season is over but until then…it beckons one to sit awhile.



If you need extra seating for an outdoor gathering, do not fret about bringing your indoors out. Your kitchen table can be used with mismatched chairs that you have about.


You can even make your own temporary table with a set of wooden horses and an old door.

4. Food Presentation 

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Being that the back yard garden and produce stands are truly overflowing at this time of year, full advantage should be taken. Mouth watering delectables can be whipped up with simple ingredients that make it seem like you slaved in the kitchen for hours. Okay…the dicing and chopping can take some time but are well worth it! I like to treat setting up a buffet for a gathering like art, considering colors, textures, serving pieces and creative ways in which to serve.

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One of my favorite pieces to use as both “placemats” and “labels” for the food you are serving are old roofing slates. You can easily write on them with chalk and they can be wiped down if food spills on them.



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Use pretty bowls to serve “Make Your Own Salad” ingredients in and blue canning jars for the dressings.


Keep in mind that how you serve your beverages can be pretty as well! Ball jars make wonderful “pitchers.”



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Glass beverage containers make beautiful dispensers for large crowds.

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Don’t underestimate the power of a pretty glass…

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or the way in which you store them.

5. Lighting

I think this is one of the most important things if your gathering will take place as or after the sun sets.

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It sets the mood,

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adds a little magic,

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and sheds some light on the fascinating conversation you are sure to have around the table while you sit awhile and take in the last days of summer!

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“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.”
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne’s House of Dreams

May your summer end as L.M. Montgomery speaks of… there is still more time.


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