Excerpt for my book Entertaining at Home. Outtake photos by Matthew Mead

Perched atop a small hill in Birmingham, Alabama, sits Shoppe, a beloved plant and flower emporium housed in a Victorian-style greenhouse and a 1920s bungalow. The store is just across the street from the home of purveyors Mark Thompson and Jay Draper. While many would shun the idea of working in such close proximity, the two relish the concept of intermingling work life and family life.

In additional to their green thumbs, Mark and Jay are history buffs and love to collect everything from vintage plates and mismatched water goblets to random pieces of Depression glass. Friends and family have added to their collections. Sentimentality and nostalgia drive their sense of style and design direction. The cumulative look is masculine and feminine, yet soulful.

For a lighthearted touch, food is served on Franciscan Ivy plates. First introduced in 1948, the cream and green iconic plates were a fixture on the television sitcoms I Love Lucy and The Donna Reed Show. Glass cloches filled with yellow ranunculus, suspended from the rafters, create a whimsical ambience. An assortment of wooden tables causally pushed together form a seating area for twenty. To unify the tabletops, Mark uses a cheerful muted-green fabric adorned with daisies. The discount textile was purchased, sewn, and edged just for the occasion. Simple vases, some with marigolds that are grown nearby and others with white daisies, are scattered about the surface. The guests’ names are hand-written on charming paper place cards that mimic plates.

Soft-Boiled Eggs
Lemon Infused Israeli Couscous
Arugula & Crumbled Bacon

(recipes in the book)


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