butler’s pantry drawers & the gardenia topiary

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, My House, Organizing39 Comments

We’re still all hanging out at home because of the arctic vortex and just learned the boys have tomorrow (Thursday) off as well.  We did have a bit of fun and threw boiling water off our deck to watch it evaporate, but otherwise, we’ve just been lounging around and I’ve been trying to get work done as I can.  I’ve done some painting and I typically would’ve taken time like this to get some more cleaning, organizing, or home projects done, but my shoulder has been preventing that.  Well, we make plans and have to adapt when things out of our control won’t conform to our plans!  I’m having an MRI tomorrow, so they can see what’s going on and the boys should be back in school on Friday.  Hopefully next week will be normal.

So, today I don’t really have anything new and super exciting to share, but I thought I would show how I organized the drawers in the butler’s pantry and answer some questions about the gardenia topiary…

We keep pretty much what you’d expect in a butler’s pantry…  serving pieces, silver, napkins, napkin rings, and other tableware that we don’t use every day.  I do love bringing these out for special occasions and table settings.  I am a big believer in using beautiful, special things every day, but we just don’t need to use butter pats, mini-tongs, and knife rests every day.

I also have a collection of napkin rings and name card holders that I use for photo shoots or special dinners.

In one drawer, I keep a few sets of cloth napkins.  I do use those from time-to-time, even for everyday dinners.  I have more than necessary, mostly for photo shoot options.

I didn’t photograph it, but in the other drawer, I have extra flatware.  Remember the pattern I got from Pottery Barn a few years ago?

Those are in that drawer and we use them sometimes.  We actually use the heirloom, sterling silver flatware that was passed down to me as our everyday flatware.  I just decided one day that I loved it too much to have it sitting in a chest all the time.

When I showed this picture on instagram, I received several questions about this gardenia topiary (apparently, it’s actually an Azalea)…

It is a live gardenia.  I bought in the spring of last year and it has been loving life in my studio.  It grew so much that I finally had to move it to a larger pot.  Here is how it looked just a few months ago…

I’m not sure when they usually bloom, but this plant has been acting like it’s Spring for the past couple of weeks.  I also have a small lemon tree that’s been promising three lemons for a while.  I keep watching them grow and I’m waiting for them to turn yellow.  Anyway, it’s nice to have a bit of greenery when it’s gray and snowy outside.

I hope you’re staying warm if you’re in the Arctic temperatures.  I think we’re almost out of it!


butler’s pantry drawers & the gardenia topiary

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39 Comments on “butler’s pantry drawers & the gardenia topiary”

  1. Lemon trees, or at least mine, set buds in January or February and we see fruit in October/November. It’s a long process. (I live in coastal Texas)

  2. I hope you get some good news from your MRI and find relief soon. I had “frozen” shoulder in both shoulders at different times and did acupuncture on one for quite a while which cured it and then physical therapy on the other. I love your gardenia topiary!

  3. Thank you for the info about the gardenia! It is lovely, and you’ve inspired me. I now want to try to grow one inside; my wife loves gardenias, and she can only enjoy our outdoor plants one month during the summer.

  4. Love the gardenia topiary! I’ve been wondering what it was. =). Might have to try to find one. Where did you get it? So pretty!

  5. I hope your have good news about your shoulder, I had major surgery on mine just before a move from CA to IL.:(((. Like you we are house bound because of the weather! PT was hard but my shoulder is great now. Total movement and no pain.
    I love the gardenia and plan to go down to middle IL to get a lemon tree in early April. I used to have a lemon tree just outside our kitchen doo in CA. Loved making lemon curd, lemon meringue pie, chicken with lemon and lots of other lemon dishes.
    We too are home bound, from weather and my stroke in Nov ’16.
    Love the placement of your gardenia, Good place for my lemon tree when we get it.:))
    Your blogs are favorites of mine.
    Stay warm and safe. Plan to try the water in the air on the deck. I should be used to this weather after growing up in Mpls. MN.:))

  6. I hope your MRI shows only good news. I had a “frozen shoulder” that I thought I would never regain range of motion. But, I did with therapy and hard work especially in the shower. Reaching and stretching every day did the trick. My therapist said that women injure their shoulders many times when they put a heavy purse on the backseat floor of the car and then retrieve it without getting out of the car.

  7. What caught my eye were the colorful napkin rings with the little wooden “kinder” on them. You must have collected them from Germany? I was in Bavaria at Xmas time, and there were all those cute wooden figures on ornaments and in collections. I adored them, but they were pricey. Still, I wish I had gotten at least one to give me the memory.

    1. Yes, they are from Germany. My Oma bought them and I got them from her. They are one of my favorite things. 🙂

  8. Shoulder pain, yuck, I am in the middle of painting my daughter’s home, and hurt my shoulder. Been doing some therapy, and babying it. Wishing you good luck with yours, as always, love your home !

  9. Hi Marian,
    It is so strange to hear about your extreme cold weather, when in Australia we are having temps of 45 degrees centigrade (113 deg F.) in many places. The world is an amazing place.
    I think you Butlers pantry is such an ideal place for all of those special things.
    I am intrigued by your lovely flowering plant, it looks so much like a white azalea. I have never seen a gardenia flower inside like that. Nurture those green thumbs.

  10. Erm, your “gardenia” is actually an azalea! I think they must have switched the tags at the nursery you bought it from!
    Regards, Kelly

      1. A Gardenia will smell heavenly, so that would be the true test. And Gardenias will bloom in the winter, mine are in the green house right now, lower temps, and are setting buds. I always love seeing your pictures, makes me smile and sigh. I love all the memories in the drawers. Good luck, hope they find a resolution to your shoulder issue, it can be a big pain, but i can attest to healing and no pain after PT. Stay Warm!

      2. Gardenias smell sickly sweet, azaleas don’t smell. Azaleas like acidic soil so I plant mine in straight peat moss. Also, if you want to trim it, do that right after it blooms. Some of mine are “encore” so they bloom in the spring and the fall (we have a really long growing season.)
        I hope the MRI goes well! I just had surgery on my knee and hope you don’t have to go that route.

  11. Hope they can help your shoulder post MRI results. I have the same Pottery Barn flatware and love to mix it with my silverware. I like that the pieces are a larger so you can use them as serving pieces. I enjoy your blog very much…you have such good taste! I live in NE PA and we are suffering the polar vortex temps, too…can’t believe that the weatherman is predicting 50’s next week!

  12. I live in Alabama and have both azaleas and two varieties of gardenias. Gardenias have a strong sweet fragrance and azaleas do not. It’s difficult for me looking the photograph which one this is. It’s pretty though!

  13. If it were truly a gardenia, Marian, the fragrance would be overwhelming IMHO. I can barely stand the fragrance of cut gardenias in the summer – they definitely have to be far away from me! Some people like them but not me! If it has little or no fragrance, it is more than likely an azalea.

  14. Hugs, prayers, and blessings with your shoulder. I hope you find out what the problem is and are feeling better asap. Topiary is gorgeous and the butler’s pantry is DIVINE!

  15. Your organization is kind of art. I wish I could do that. By the way you live in Minnesota ? Do you keep at least one week of emergency food? We keep at least 6 months of food( cans, dry food) in case we stack in the snow or something.

  16. Hope all goes well with the MRI. Keeping you in my thoughts.

    About that throwing boiling water off your deck to watch it freeze. PHOTOS! Lol. Sounds really fun and one of those memories your boys will have for the rest of their lives, something they will want to do with their own children. These simple kinds of memories are the ones I remember most often. We’re having extremely rare thunder storms here in Southern California and I am reminded of my mother. She was frightened of thunder storms and, not wanting her children to inherit that fear, she somehow managed to stand on the porch with us during them and express absolute glee that there was this thrilling and loud, and wild weather happening. I love thunder storms to this day. It’s so often the little things.

    That Azalea is glorious! And you, who didn’t have a green thumb not so very long ago! I have to agree that your organization is like an art form in itself. I think a big part of it is your ability to let go of things; artists must do that every time they approach a canvas or a piece of steel. It’s not only admirable, it’s downright inspiring.

    Warmest wishes for tomorrow!

  17. We had a gardenia that grew from a small pot into a large tub taller than me. It spent summers on the deck under a canopy and decorated it at Christmas. When it bloomed, the scent was unmistakable. One bloom scented the room and many flowers were hypnotic. My poor tree fell victim to an unexpected freeze many years back.

    Your plant, whatever it is, sparked good memories. I’ll have to get another gardenia this spring

  18. My Azalea always blooms in the winter, it seems to love the cold and sits on a north facing window sill. In the summer I put it on my shady front porch and it grows really well and then comes back I. The house in the fall.

  19. I hope al went well with your MRI. I have to say sitting here in my corner of the couch with my morning cup of coffee I am overwhelmed with the nice comments people write on your post. The world can be so rough at times it is with pleasure that I enjoy following your post.

    Thanks for your wonderful words Jeffrey

  20. Marian, I hope you get answers and good results on your shoulder MRI ! Thinking of you!
    Re your lemon tree, I’ve heard they take a long time to mature/ripen, (so I found out when I did some research on them as I’ve started a few myself last spring )but in the meantime, won’t YOURS be fun to paint at ALL STAGES, even now already! I’ve seen alot of lemon/yellow themes for spring, it’s so refreshing and pretty!!!! so neat for you to be able to paint the real thing on it’s own little tree! That’s what I’m looking forward to/painting the real thing!…. I had 43 little trees started last spring, lol, some I gave away, I have 20 or so left, I’m babying them inside on metal trays by my dining room window and I’ll give more away in spring when our store reopens… tallest one is only about 9 inches tall yet! but it’s a fun thing to do (especially with kids) to start a lemon tree from seed ! 🙂 They took 4-6 weeks to germinate, and up they came, two little leaves each one, one at a time!…I just planted the seeds from lemons I bought at the grocery store, about 1/2 inch deep and kept the seed moist/watered when the tops of the soil dried out…..Unbelievably strong stems! VERY sturdy little things! Take care Marian, All the best!

  21. Here, outside, in sunny Florida, gardenias typically bloom late April through early June so you always have them for Mother’s Day.

  22. I have 3 of those white azaleas shrubs in the front of my house and they bloom in late Spring. I love them . They are a very manageable size, don’t become too large or invasive, and are evergreen in the winter.

    Next time you are on a landscaping kick in your front yard, you might want to consider some of these.

  23. The temps in your region have really been amazingly low. Hope MRI went well and driving can’t be easy in that weather.

    1. They have been crazy, but everything has pretty much been closed, so we’ve been staying at home. It’s getting much warmer this weekend, though.

      I had the MRI yesterday and I’m still waiting for the results.

  24. So sorry to read that you are having problems with your shoulder. Keeping you in my prayers for better days ahead! Blessings!

  25. I love your Butler’s Pantry and that you use your special things. I do too. I’m especially drawn to silver and the purposes and elegance of old fashioned table accouterments, napkins and rings. Those colorful rings in that drawer look like Hummels! Are they German, I don’t recall seeing them in any of your table settings. Do you put your silverware in the dishwasher? I find I can as long as I don’t allow the stainless steel pieces to touch them which leaves black spots on the silver. Since your gardenia turned out to be an azalea maybe your lemons will turn out to be limes and stay green. 😉

  26. Would you please share your source for the adjustable wood divider shown in the photo of your napkin ring drawer. We recently moved into a home whose kitchen drawers are all only 7″ wide and I have not been able to find anything to fit in them separate our silverware, etc (how did I not notice this when we were looking at this house!) Thank you !

    1. I think I got them from Target or TJ Maxx, but you can find them on Amazon and Bed, Bath & Beyond online. Just search “bamboo drawer divider”.

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