Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tabletop Tuesdays: Salad or Dessert?

Queen Victoria Dessert Plate by Herend

We often have brides ask us, "what's the difference between a salad and dessert plate?"  Our answer?  Excellent question!  

The answer depends, in practicum, on the manufacturer.  For most, there is no difference.  The salad and dessert plate is interchangeable.  For others, like Herend, every pattern comes with two plates: a smaller dessert plate and larger salad.

This is because, hundreds of years ago and still today in some parts of the world, the dessert course was its own meal.  After the main course guests would remove to the parlor where they would enjoy champagne or a dessert wine, a selection of cheeses (and sometimes nuts), dessert, and then coffee or espresso.

While we love this tradition, we understand that it's not practical in the fast-pace of today's world.  Nor is it practical for many brides and grooms to register for an extra set of salad/dessert plates, both from a financial perspective and from the vantage point of room (where would you store it?).  So, we recommend registering for only one size that you can use for either salad or dessert.

One last tip: for many of these plates, their finishes can be affected by oil and vinegar.  So, when using them for salads, be sure to rinse them immediately after use.  

Monday, April 29, 2013


“…[Claudia] said, softly.  ‘Everybody changes.’  ‘No, you’re wrong-nobody really changes,’ Bobbie spat out, shaking her head.  ‘We’re just like the antiques.  We grow old and get scarred and beat up along the way, and the only question becomes whether we’re going to make it until we realize what we already have is valuable.  So you need to snap out of it and take care of your valuables!’”
-          Page 88, Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale, by Lynda Rutledge

This is one of my new favorite books, written by an Austinite my daughter came across at the Writer’s League of Texas’ annual conference in June (an event she highly recommends, by the way).  This quote struck me, particularly, because it is so germane to the human experience…how it takes us so long to come back ‘round the bend and realize we really want to be right where we started.  That we love what we’ve always loved (in this case, the sense of home represented by Claudia Jean’s mama’s old antiques).  That we want what we’ve always wanted.  It’s just taken us a while to allow ourselves to admit it.  Out loud or, even, to ourselves.

So, where are you in your life?  Are you in the ‘figuring it out’ stage or the ‘been there, done that’ stage?  Are you looking ahead to the sun rising or looking back on the sun setting?  What does this quote make you think of?

Happy Monday everybody!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Brunch: a Visit to the Louvre

Did you know that French porcelain-maker Bernardaud has devoted an entire pattern to the famous palace museum the Louvre?  We absolutely love this collection because it is so durable (like all fine china), the bakeware items can be put in the oven and refrigerator, and it's absolutely gorgeous!

Each item has a different motif - all of which are taken from the actual Louvre just outside of Paris, France.  We know not everyone can visit the Louvre, but you could bring the Louvre to you by hosting a Parisian-style brunch.

Here's a classic French recipe to get you started, from the masters themselves:

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sparkling Saturdays: Good Gifts for Mom

Mother's Day is right around the corner, so we're highlighting some extra special gifts to make the mom (or wife!) in your life smile.

Diamond Bangle Bracelet in White Gold

Diamond Dangle Earring in White Gold

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Fun Days: It's all about Moms

We love Moms!  Whether you are a mom, you have a mom, or you know a mom, we know you'll want to celebrate moms on Mother's Day!

At The Menagerie, we celebrate Moms all year long, but we especially love helping you pick out the perfect gift for the mom in your life.

Here are some new items from china-maker Herend.  Each piece is hand-painted like they have been for centuries, making each one as unique as the mom in your life.

Add to her collection or start her a new one today!

Perfect for the new mom, Herend's "Just Hatched" comes in several colors.

Herend's "Mother & Baby" in gold perfectly embodies a mother's love.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lifestyle Thursdays: It's All About Color

We're not sure if you've noticed, but, these days, it's all about color.  In fashion, makeup, and, yes, even tabletop, color is everywhere.

We wrote a post about the color of the year - Emerald - and we've been having fun decorating with it in the shop.

Have you been going bold with color this spring?  In your home, on your face, or with your clothes?  We'd love to show you a few of our creations, so be sure to stop by soon!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wedding Wednesdays: How did you say "I Do"?

If you walk into our shop in Jefferson Square, you'll usually find one of our long-time staff members sitting behind the jewelry cases chatting with one or two regular customers.  We talk about what's happening in Austin (which still feels like a small town despite our population growth!).  We talk about family - sharing pictures of grandkids and catching up on news of our kids who just left for college.  We talk about business, both local business and the state of the economy at large.  You name it, and we cover it.

Almost always, we talk about celebrations - birthdays, anniversaries, and, of course, weddings.  We love it when wide-eyed grooms bring back their new fiances and tell us all about how they proposed.  We love seeing the ring on her finger and watching her blush with joy.  We love talking wedding plans knowing that, all too soon, we'll be hearing about her baby shower.

We have such a happy business.  We'd love to share it with you!  Visit us today to learn more about how we can help you celebrate!

Tabletop Tuesday: Fun Pics from Tabletop Market 2013

Here are some insider pic's to the showrooms at Tabletop Market in New York (April 15-19).  Enjoy!

From the Royal Crown Derby showroom at New York's Tabletop Market 2013

New from Phillippe Deshoulieres, as seen at New York Tabletop 2013

Color on Display: a hot new trend in tabletop!

More from Royal Crown Derby, we love this East meets West display.

Pretty in Pink by Wedgwood

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Power of Paying Attention

No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.
-          Theodore Roosevelt

If anyone were to ask me, “what’s the key to your success as a salesperson, retail store owner, boss?”, I would answer: listening.  Or, better put, paying attention.

You’ve heard me say it before on this blog: I know my customers, and I’m privileged to do so.  I know their lifestyles, what their homes look like, their kids and parents.  I also know what they care about – the charities and causes and little idiosyncrasies that matter, really matter, to my friends and clients.

But more than just knowing, I care too.  At The Menagerie my marketing budget is 90% charitable giving.  I give to the causes that matter to me and to the causes that matter to my customers.  This isn’t an empty gesture or a cynical ploy.  It’s because I really understand President Roosevelt’s point.  Why should I expect loyalty from my customers if they don’t think I care about them?

Wouldn’t it be amazing if more of business in America operated this way?  In such a way that customers felt cared for and companies made it a point to support the things that matter to their customers.  There are many companies that do this (Whole Foods, founded and headquartered right here in Austin, comes to mind), and I applaud them for it.

I’m not saying we get it perfectly right at The Menagerie.  Of course we don’t; no one can.  But day in and day out, we keep trying.  And that’s part of this quote too.  That’s the part represented by that seemingly insignificant word ‘until’.  The ‘until’ tells us that we don’t stop trying to show we care until we, somehow, get the message across.

And so, I’m up on another Monday morning, getting ready for the week, and looking out for ways to listen, pay attention, and care for those around me.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Brunch: Au Lait!

What's brunch without a good cup of coffee in your hands?  This week we're featuring our favorite coffee mugs in addition to some innovative ways to serve the drink at your Sunday brunch:

New from Bernardaud, the Louvre Latte mug is perfect for enjoying a latte at home.

The Arcades coffee cup and saucer works well for a spring brunch or at holiday time.

"Afternoon Tea" by Anna Weatherley, hand-painted with three-dimensional designs, 
this coffee set could be a centerpiece in and of itself


Disclaimer: All coffees are for a 16 ounce cup of coffee and the milk should be steamed or foamed to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.  Recipes taken from a Tina Samuels on Yahoo's blog.  
Caramel Macchiato 
Fill ¾ full with steamed milk
Pour in ¾ ounce of Vanilla Syrup
Pour in two shots espresso
Top with foamed milk to the rim
Drizzle caramel sauce on foamed milk
Fill with steamed milk
Pour in 2 shots espresso
Top with ¼ inch foamed milk
Fill with steamed milk to ¼ inch from the top
2 shots espresso
2oz mocha syrup
Top with whipped cream
Pour in foamy milk
2 shots espresso
Cafe Au Lait 
8 ounces regular coffee, not espresso
Add steamed milk to just below rim
Cafe Breve 
12 ounces steamed half and half
2 shots espresso
¼ inch of foamed milk
Cafe Americano 
12 ounces hot water
3 shots espresso

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sparkling Saturdays: Diamonds by the Yard

The "Diamonds by the Yard" necklace has become a jewelry wardrobe staple, rivaling the diamond stud earring for its versatility and ability to be worn everyday.

We love this gem of a statement because it can be filled with meaning.  For example, each diamond on the necklace could represent a member of your family or a significant event in your life.  

The beauty of it is, if you prefer, the significance of your necklace can be kept private, or as a secret shared between you and the person who gave it to you.

Whether you wear it everyday or only on special occasions, we at The Menagerie can help you find the perfect version of this classic necklace.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Friday Fun Days: The Sideways Cross

We know you've seen them - crosses turned on their side in necklaces, bracelets, even rings.  This design showed up in the jewelry world a few years ago, but it's only just now becoming more mainstream.  We couldn't be more thrilled because we love this fresh vision of a classic jewelry staple.

Here are just a few of the versions we currently have in our store:

Be sure to call or stop by if you want to learn more!

Lifestyle Thursdays: Establishing a Tradition

At The Menagerie we have a tradition of helping our customers find the perfect gift for their new Godchildren.  This is one of the many special occassions we are privileged to be a part of, and it's one of our favorites because our customers are choosing a gift that will last a lifetime.

It's all about tradition.  When a Godmother or Godfather picks out that first gift - for the first Christmas or first birthday or Christening - she or he is choosing to start a collection that she or he will build on each year.

Some of our favorite examples of collections for Godchildren include:

annual Christmas Tree ornaments

Spode Woodlands plates (for Godsons)

hunting knives

sterling silver flatware (Grand Baroque by Wallace, shown)  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wedding Wednesdays: The Manner of a Man

We always have a blast when grooms become as involved in picking out their registry items as the brides-to-be.  Thirty years ago most men wouldn't have been caught dead inside a china shop, culling through dish after dish to find the pattern that best reflects 'him'.  But my how times have changed.

Today, more often than not, men and women approach their union with equanimity.  Grooms certainly have an opinion, and, why shouldn't they!?!  They'll be living with the registry choices just as much as we brides do.  Some men have even taken traditional wedding registries to a whole new level.

Yes, we've all heard of tool registries and hunting registries and sporting goods registries.  But did you know that, at The Menagerie, our grooms will sometimes pick out their own set of china?  Or register for hand-crafted, American-made hunting knives?  

Here are just a few examples:

Big Gamer Hunting Knife, 9"

Spode Woodland Quail Dinner Plate

Like I said, we love it when the men make their opinions known!  It makes for a more interesting lift of gift choices, and, ultimately, for a happier marriage in the long run (in our humble opinions)!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tabletop Show is Under Way!

Today marks the beginning of the New York Tabletop Show, an annual event focusing on the tabletop industry.

New patterns will be debuted and trends will become evident.  Also, there are always a few up-and-coming newcomers to keep an eye on.

As we learn more over the next several weeks, we'll keep you posted!

For now, if you want to follow the show, here are some of the sites that will allow you to check it out:



Monday, April 15, 2013

To Make a Beginning

-          T.S. Eliot

I love this quote from one of America’s greatest poets.  The idea that we can simultaneously let go of the past to make way for a beginning, and allow the past to inform the next phase in our lives, is such a beautiful thought.

It’s a tricky business: letting go and holding on.  It involves surrender and faith, both the belief that we are not in charge and the conviction that we will play a part, that there is more to come.

For me, the only way I can keep such a conundrum in balance is through my walk with God.  I look to Him to help me remember the past so that He can resurrect the future.

What do you need to let go of?  And, in turn, what do you need to lay hold of?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Brunch: Dressing Up

This week we're encouraging everyone to dress it up!  Make Sunday Brunch an affair...you know, like in days gone by.  So, put on your gloves and hats, pull out your best china, and invite over your friends and neighbors!


Quick and Easy Shrimp and Avocado Quiche
  • 3/4 poung frozen baby shrimp
  • 4 cups milk or cream
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 avocados, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 pie shells (you can make your own or save time and buy them frozen)
1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Thaw the shrimp under cold running water for about one minute, then drain.
3.  Scald the milk or cream slightly by bringing to a boil in a saucepan; then allow to cool until lukewarm.
4.  Beat the eggs, and stir into the warm milk.  Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
5.  Divide the shrimp, cheese and avocado into two portions and spread evenly over the bottom of the two pie shells.  Pour half of the custard mixture into each shell.
6.  Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until the top turns slightly brown.  Serve warm.
[Originally published in the 2009 issue of Martha's Vineyard Magazine's Island Weddings; reviewed for updates in 2012.]

Fine China: Anna Weatherley's Ivy Garland

When china is more like art...this hand-painted covered server with flower handle is exquisite and sure to impress!

Also hand-painted with 24 karat gold on the edge, this dinner plate embodies spring.

The bugs on Anna Weatherley's Ivy Garland bread and butter are so lifelike, you'll feel like you're eating outside.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sparkling Saturdays

This week we want to highlight a classic: the diamond engagement ring.  We started our Sparkling Saturdays posts by showing you some of our favorite custom engagement rings (we've repeated one below).  This week, we thought we'd give you a brief history lesson.

Cushion Cut Diamond Engagement Ring with Tapered Baguettes

Though they are common today, diamond engagement rings haven't always been the norm.  The tradition dates back to 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave a diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy.  Up until that point, only kings wore diamonds, as a symbol of power and invincibility (since the diamond is the hardest known mineral and certainly one of the world's most precious).

The ancient Greeks believed that diamonds were splinters of stars fallen to the earth.  Some said they were the tears of the gods.  The truth is less romantic but no less astounding.  Billions of years ago, incredible heat and pressure in the boiling magma that lay deep below the surface of the earth miraculously transformed ordinary carbon into extraordinary diamond.  The diamond was then pushed up to the surface of the earth to cool in something called a Kimberlite pipe, where most of the diamonds in the world are found today.

While diamond production first occurred over 2,800 years ago in India, the modern diamond industry started in South Africa in the 19th century.  Today, each diamond produced passes through hundreds of hands and often touches four or five continents.  The top diamond-producing countries are, in order, Australia, Botswana, Zaire, the former Soviet Union, and South Africa.  The top four producers account for 85% of the world's production.

Today, diamonds, while seemingly commonplace, are no less precious.  In the history of all diamond production on earth, only 350 tons of diamonds have been mined, and only 50% of that is of gem quality.  Furthermore, approximately 250 tons of ore must be mined from a Kimberlite pipe in order to produce a diamond of gem quality of about 1 carat in size.

For over thirty-four years we at The Menagerie have been hand-picking diamonds from trusted sources, finding the most value for your dollar and making that special moment all the more memorable.

*Much of this information taken from www.diamondtrade.com, copyright 1998-2013.  We give them full credit for the historical data provided here.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Fun Days: Highlighting Some Cool Blogger Friends in Austin

Hi!  Today we wanted to use our "Friday Fun Day" post to highlight some very cool blogs by other local Austin style sources.  While our bend might be toward the more traditional, we still love what these folks are doing in the contemporary, modern, and even vintage scenes!  Check them out!

From the Austin Monthly Home magazine blog:

From Austin interior designer Robin Callan's Roomfu blog:

We're in love with her planters, especially the turquoise dinosaur from Austin's Plaid Pigeon.

So, whether you're traditional or modern, formal or casual, shabby shic or hippy, there's something for everyone in Austin.  Let's keep the love going by keeping it local and shopping small!

Happy Friday Fun Day!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lifestyle Thursdays: The Man We Love

Did you know that The Menagerie is the only boutique store in Austin that carries William Yeoward Crystal?  That's just one of the reasons we love, love, love the man himself, William Yeoward.  He knows the value of local, boutique shops like ours.

We also adore his sense of style.  Renowned the world over for his expertise in design - from tabletops to interiors - William was recently profiled on ElleDecor.com.

For this week's installment of Lifestyle Thursdays, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite William Yeoward Crystal pieces.  These make excellent additions to any home, or wonderful gifts.

Fern is one of William Yeoward's signature patterns.  Shown: goblet.
This Wisteria Trumpet Vase measures 4" tall and makes a wonderful bedside vase.

We love the simplicity of Yeoward's Alice Bowl, perfect as a centerpiece in and of itself or filled with decoration.

As always, feel free to contact us for more information.  We'd love to hear from you.

A teaser from the Elle Decor article with a link-thru for your convenience:

"William Yeoward swept the cobwebs from the fine crystal business back in the 1990s by tweaking classic designs for a modern audience without ever compromising on quality...."  For more, click here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wedding Wednesdays: Something Blue

Of course, sapphire engagement rings have been brought to the forefront again because of Princess Diana and Kate Middleton:

Kate wears the blue stone well, and we love that she has highlighted alternatives to diamond engagement rings.  (What a fun way to wear your "something blue" on your big day!).

Over the years, we have custom-made many sapphire engagement rings, and we have sourced estate rings as well.  Here's an example of a beautiful sapphire ring with pave diamonds surrounding it:

While sapphires are the second-most popular choice for a center stone, other choices include emeralds, rubies, and even pearls.  For a brief history of engagement ring choices, click here.

Whatever your choice, we have created rings for people who live all over the world.  We would count it a privilege to assist you on this momentous occasion.  Feel free to contact us today!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tabletop Tuesdays: How to Set a Formal Table

More often than not, formal tables can seem irrelevant and overwhelming.  But, they have a rich and illustrious history, and, once we understand which fork to use with which course, they can provide a wonderful space to develop friendships and create memories.

Back in the Fall of 2007 one of our employees, Jenny Forgey, published an article about how to set a formal table.  So whether you practice formality or not, we thought we'd reprint this article simply as our way of highlighting the beauty that can be created at a tablescape.  Because, really, don't you feel more special when you sit down at a table where someone has taken the time to lay it out beautifully?  We know, we do!

Did you know that we will come to your house, with china in hand, to help you discover the best look for your space?  Call us today to schedule an in-home china consultation.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Forgiveness & Love

"He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Have you ever held a grudge?  I'm sorry to say that I have.  It's almost always unintentional (of course, right?), but it happens, and it's icky when it does.

But eventually, I'll either simply let go of my hurt or anger, or will actively choose to forgive.  Either way, the ickiness dissipates, leaving room for love to flourish again.  That's a much better space to live in.  MLK knew that, and he was right.

Is there anyone you need to forgive today?  Be brave; choose love.  You'll be so glad you did.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday Brunch: Green Eggs & Ham/Casserole Dishes

Recipe taken from Eating Well.  Click here for more recipes from this magazine.


  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, diced
  • 1 5-ounce bag baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced ham
  • 1/2 cup shredded havarti or Muenster cheese


  1. Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 450°F.
  2. Whisk eggs, dill, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Heat oil in a large ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leeks; cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add spinach and ham; cook, stirring, until the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute.
  3. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and cook, lifting the edges of the frittata so uncooked egg can flow underneath, until the bottom is light golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top, transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the eggs are set, 6 to 8 minutes. Let rest for about 3 minutes before serving. Serve hot or cold.
  4. Serve in a beautiful casserole dish to finish it off!

We recommend this "Pearls" casserole dish with Pyrex insert from Beatriz Ball:

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sparkling Saturdays: Trends that Last

A few years ago, "natural" was all the rage in jewelry.  Everywhere we went we saw natural, uncut diamonds or diamond slices adorning earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings.  While that trend isn't as prevalent today, it persists in part.

Here's a fun example of its staying power:

Crystal geod & diamond earrings

We love these dressed-up geods.  They prove that you can mix formal and informal approaches to create a stunning style statement.

For more information on these earrings, or to peruse more trends, visit us online or in our shop at Jefferson Square in Austin, Texas.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Fun Days: Arf! Arf!

Okay, so maybe this is silly, but we love this black Lab figurine from Baccarat!  For our fun Friday product pic, we had to send you a shout-out from the little guy.

Baccarat Black Labrador Figurine

Lifestyle Thursdays: Baby oh Baby

At The Menagerie, we love to highlight the finer things in life.  This doesn't always equal expensive.  More often than not, the finer things in life cost little or nothing.  It's a smile when you're feeling down, a kiss from a loved one, a rainbow on a rainy day.

While we love celebrating these intangible moments, we do like punctuating them with presents (we are a gift store after all!).

For today's lifestyle blurb, we're focusing on presents for babies.  We've chosen gifts that maintain that feeling of special-ness (you won't see these at a big box store), but also fit in with the way most moms do life today.  (In other words, these gifts are a lot more practical than the gifts of, say, the Victorian era.)

Blue Bunny Set, made of lightweight metal so it won't break!

Abbey Round Box, Silverplate: fill it with a first curl or tooth!

This pewter Alphabet Plate harkens back to days when the 3 R's ruled.
The fact that it's pewter means no polishing!

Designed and hand-calligraphed by an Austin artist,
this book is filled with special prayers, just for children.

What about you?  What's your favorite gift to bring to a baby shower?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wedding Wednesdays: Themes to Play With

If you've been to a wedding in the past - oh, I don't know, decade - you know: it's all about the theme.  There are color themes or style themes (who hasn't sat in one of those oh-so-cool lounges created for the cocktail hour, for example?).  There are destination themes or hobby themes (have you been to a wedding that required the guests to hike to the ceremony location?  I have!).

For today's "Wedding Wednesdays" post, we thought it would be fun to highlight some plates that could either inspire themes for your special day or reflect them.

Meissen's iconic Ming Dragon in Red
Can't you just see the Chinese dragons floating throughout the reception?  FAB!

Mottahedeh's Peacock Dessert Plates
I've been to an outdoor wedding where peacocks were roaming around.  It was magical.

Portmeirion Spode's Woodlands Quail Dinner Plate
Wedding in a hunting lodge anyone?  Yes please!

Are you planning a wedding?  Are you opting for a theme or keeping it simple?  Do tell!  Don't go without leaving a comment.