Dining with Butterflies

I’m dining with the butterflies~ enjoying this book~ with its beautiful illustrations by Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717), German-born naturalist and artist.

At a time when few women were educated or literate, and rarely travelled, Maria Sibylla Merian was a pioneer, and made history with her studies of insects in Surinam.

Trained as a copperplate engraver and watercolorist, she documented the metamorphosis of butterflies, laying the foundation for modern entomology.

 On seeing a collection of butterflies from Dutch Guiana, (modern Surinam), she decided to study tropical flora and fauna, to discover whether the moths and butterflies she saw in collections shared the same life cycle as those she had bred: the egg and caterpillar stage.

In 1699 she sailed for South America with daughter Dorothea, the first time any woman had ventured on a journey of exploration on this scale.

  Having evaluated and categorized her specimens, in 1705 she published her major work Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, in Dutch and Latin.

She made 60 copperplate engravings to illustrate the stages of insect development, arranged around the cultivated and wild plants she had encountered on her travels.

With its detailed text and imagery, the Metamorphosis is the first work on the natural history of Surinam. For 17th century Europeans it was an insight into an unknown world.

This quilted throw from HomeGoods migrated into my cart recently and was the inspiration for this table.

I thought it would be the perfect foundation for this book, with the butterflies sipping nectar from the quilted flowers~ while I sipped on tea from my Portmeirion Botanic Garden Blue Tea Set and dined among the embossed butterflies on my Lennox Butterfly Meadow Cloud plates.


Quilted throw/ HomeGoods by Ridgefield Home

Plates/ Lennox Butterfly Meadow Cloud/ HomeGoods

Trays/ HomeGoods

Bee Stems/ Sur La Table

Napoleon Bee flatware/Horchow

Napkins/Pier 1

Tea Set/ Portmeirion Botanic Blue/ Marshalls


I spread my wings with a little bow tie pasta chicken salad, recipe courtesy of Pillsbury~ to fly over and join the fun at Lynn’s Celebrity Cook-Along with Pillsbury~ and a few Pepperidge Farm butterfly crackers  served on the side.

Dried Cherry-Nut Chicken Pasta Salad, recipe can be found here.

I substituted chopped pecans for slivered almonds in the recipe and made an additional substitution with the dressing called for. Not a huge fan of poppy seed dressing, I decided to try Trader Joe’s Champagne Pear Vinaigrette that is slightly sweet, and has some gorgonzola in it, when I read a comment that suggested adding some gorgonzola to the pasta salad for additional flavor. It was a quick & tasty substitution for the poppy seed dressing that I mixed with Olive Oil Mayo and complemented with the dried cherries, nuts, chicken & bow tie pasta.

 I recently had a milestone birthday, and was gifted with my very own Poppin’ Fresh Pillsbury Dough Boy napkin holder, since the Dough Boy was introduced 5o years ago, in 1961 :-)

A metamorphosis~ from crescent rolls to sugar-sprinkled butterflies garnish a layer of berries, lemon curd & whipped cream.

“TASCHEN’s reprint of a hand-colored first edition copy, belonging to the University Library of Basel, includes the complete plates with a commentary by Katharina Schmidt-Loske. Merian accomplished a pioneering achievement of the modern age. This publication pays homage to her work and offers readers an opportunity to appreciate her sumptuous engravings.”

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

  48 comments for “Dining with Butterflies

  1. Happier Than A Pig in Mud
    June 14, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Mary, it seems that every week I start out by saying “wow”! Everything is just beautiful! The throw is amazing and works so well with your tablescape. Thanks so much for joining the Cook-Along with the pretty crackers and great pastries, I appreciate it! Guess who else will be 50 this year:@)

  2. June 14, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Your tables are always breathtaking and your photos exquisite!!!!!!!!!!! The quilt is gorgeous and you left NO detail undone! The crescent roll butterflies, genius! I love this. How I would love to spend an afternoon at one of your tables!!!! XO, Pinky

  3. June 14, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Gorgeous Mary!! I am going to remember the croissant cutouts. Perfection!

    Everything about this table and the book is wonderful!

  4. June 14, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Mary, What a beautiful book! You never fail to have a star post. You think of everything down to the butterfly crackers . I love the colors and all the textures in this tablescape. You really should do a book of all your tablescapes. It would sell.

  5. Clare
    June 14, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    I want it ALL! Every single picture brought another gasp! The china, the throw, the book, the recipes and the butterfly cut-outs!!!! I am completely enthralled! Another stunning, stunning chapter! Thank you Mary, for making us all happy and sharing your incredible talent!!!!!

  6. June 14, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Very very pretty..

    I love the crescent roll idea too.I just threw an older can away..Must get a new one:)
    I envy you Trader Joe’s..

  7. June 14, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Everything about this tablescape is gorgeous. I love that book about the butterflies. Thanks for introducing me to it. The illustrations are incredible. The butterfly cutouts are really cute and look perfect with that dessert. I could just go on and on. I always look forward to your new posts.

  8. June 14, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Mary, you are just unbelievable. Like Lynn said above, Wow is the first word I think of when I visit. Everything here is absolutely gorgeous. And the butterflies from the cresent dough, wow, I mean zowee! xo,

  9. June 14, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Mary, your talent is beyond incredible! Don’t know what else to say. Your posts take my breath away. No detail is left undone. Breathtaking. Jackie

  10. June 14, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    ….and here is yet another WOW….you never fail to provide gorgeous eye candy, whether in the tablescape, the books you review or the foods you serve….

  11. June 14, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    What a lovely post. Everything loooks so beautiful and I love all the butterflies!

  12. Pat
    June 14, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    Happy belated birthday, Mary! This post was so beautiful ..I love the color blue and your brought out the best of it in your photographs. The butterfly engravings are exquisite and I love the cute butterflies you made out of the crescent dough ..that was very clever! I was lucky to be chosen on a shopping spree at HomeGoods for Blogher — they opened a a store in Manhattan! I’ll have a blog post coming up about it. I could live in that store!

  13. June 14, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Happy Belated Birthday Mary!! Love all of the butterflies in this post, but my MOST favorite is the crescent roll cut outs!! And the crackers….who knew?? You find the most interesting things!! Hope all’s well and your girls are enjoying the summer!!

  14. June 15, 2011 at 12:05 am

    So beautiful! Love those Crescent butterflies!
    Great post!


  15. June 15, 2011 at 12:38 am

    Perfection! This table has to be one of the prettiest ever. Each detail made me sigh with glee. The butterfly engravings are gorgeous and this setting is truly a tribute to their beauty. Your culinary choices are so appropriate. Love the crescent roll metamorphosis!
    ~ Sarah

  16. Angela
    June 15, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Beautiful. I love seeing the pictures in the book and your adorable crescent butterflies

  17. June 15, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Oh, Mary, I am ready to be transported to the delightful setting you’ve created! The table is beautiful, combining elegance with natural elements so perfectly! The attention to detail — the napkin holder flowers, the butterfly-shaped crackers and rolls — is just fabulous!

  18. June 15, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Oh my goodness, this is such a gorgeous tablescape. I love the blue and white Portmeirion Botanic teaset; they are truly beautiful. Your entire table is just perfect.

    I love the touches you have added to your food, as well. The butterfly crackers and the butterflies from crescent rolls are so sweet.

    That book looks so interesting. What fabulous illustrations.
    Thanks for sharing yet another stunning tablescape!

  19. June 15, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Okay, when is your book coming out? Your posts are always so stunningly beautiful they make me gasp, and seriously need to be preserved in a tangible form. The lovely location, the beautiful tables, the food so carefully chosen, beautifully prepared, plus instructions. You really wow me, and I’d like to get my name on the list as being your next best friend. That, or you can adopt me! I LOVE the throw on the table. I can’t believe you got that at Home Goods. Stunning, just stunning!

  20. June 15, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    STUNNING ONCE AGAIN!!!!!!!!!! I love it all but, that quilt is 2DIE4! And with the china it’s a show stopper! I bet your store displays were OVER THE TOP AMAZING! I just love everything you do. And those darling little butterfly cookies made from the cresents…. Soooooooo wish we had Trader Joes! Love it from California & my niece in Raleigh has it but, we don’t! I’m off to check out that receipe for the chicken salad! YUM! Have a beautiful week & thanks for sharing the magic!

  21. June 15, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Such gorgeous . . . everything!

  22. June 15, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Beautiful! This is my first visit here and I’ve so enjoyed myself!

  23. June 15, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    This is just GORGEOUS! Love the butterflies you made — how clever. The blues are just breath taking. This looks just wonderful!

  24. June 15, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Another beautiful table!! The colors are so lovely–such a gorgeous background. It’s all just amazing. Love love your pastry butterflies, such a cute idea and it’s perfect with your theme!!

  25. FABBY
    June 15, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    A spectacular table! You always manage to do such exquisite scenery for your tables, along with your beautiful china, tablecloth and everydetail! Your photos are just fabulous and every vignette as well. I’m totally loving these. I just dropped from TT at, BNOTP. Lots of hugs. FABBY

  26. June 15, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    I never, ever visit this blog without being completely wowed by color and detail. This week is no exception. I LOVE this,and the quilted throw you used for both inspiration and table linen is just gorgeous.

    Those little pastry butterflies were an unexpected treat at the end of the post.

    Just plain enjoyable all the way around.

  27. June 16, 2011 at 12:42 am

    Love all of the butterflies! So wonderful.

    – The Tablescaper

  28. June 16, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Dazzling! What a view from your beautiful table…

  29. June 16, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Mary, it’s all gorgeous! Stunning photo’s, delicious food, beautiful dishes! Loved the post.

  30. June 16, 2011 at 10:20 am

    It is exquisite, the tablescape, the blues, the butterflies, the quilt, the food….simply stunning!I’m your newest follower…..you have a beautiful blog.

  31. June 16, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Mary, I may have put my tablescape comment on your Savannah Iron post. Sometimes I don’t expect comments at the beginning of a post. Sorry!

  32. June 16, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Stunning! The book, the dishes, the setting (well it just blows me away everytime) and your sweet touches, I love this post so much.. Many blessings. marlis

  33. June 16, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    those croissant roll butterflies will surely be joining me for tea soon. THAT IS WONDERFUL!!!!

  34. Lucinda
    June 17, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Your tablescapes are always top notch, but I especially enjoy the tie-in with the book. A really nice touch.

    PS: I’m stealing the crescent roll cookie idea too, good one!!

    Lucinda/Rhode Island

  35. June 17, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    What a beautiful table. I love your trays as chargers and the ric rac on the napkins is so sweet!
    Lunch looks good too!

  36. June 18, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Well, this is just a huge WOW! And then I saw the quilted table covering and I just gasped! Love it all!

  37. June 18, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    So gorgeous!! Your table is beautiful and I absolutely love that tablecloth! Thanks for sharing at FNF :)

  38. June 20, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I just really like this post. :)


  39. June 20, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    So pretty. I love butterflies. And your tablescape just captured their beauty! And the little butterfly croissants…too cute!

  40. June 20, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    This looks really wonderful. Beautiful colors, pretty chargers and what a view!…Christine

  41. June 21, 2011 at 9:04 am

    where do i begin…whimsy, delight, joy? you truly ignite happiness in me, i feel your joy as you play… it makes me yearn to do the same :) piece after piece after perfect peace melting together, i love your layers of details. its art, my kinda art!

    the throw and pillow combo…. of course i am coveting them~

    story book perfect, down to the very last bite…

    heavy sigh of contentment from me, you are as refreshing as a week at the beach for me!

    you have me yearning to play, but jasper broke my camera last night, new one not here until friday, i feel deprived and wanna play now too!

  42. June 21, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Wow, such a beautiful tablescape. I love the colors and the pictures of the butterflys are gorgeous. I love those white dishes with the embossed butterfly and the one in the cup is beautiful. Of course I always drool over the setting. Totally perfect. Thanks for joining TTT. Hugs, Marty

  43. June 21, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Hi Mary…

    Ohhh my goodness…this is truly one of the prettiest tables that I’ve ever seen, my friend! I just adore everything about it! Oh yes…and could that beautiful table covering with the sweet butterflies be any more perfect to go with this lovely book? I think not!!! First of all, this book really is fabulous! The illustrations are exquisite…I will have to look for a copy!

    Well dear lady, I just love all of the beautiful blues on this pretty table! The fresh floral bouquet is simply gorgeous!!! And…your place settings are gorgeous as well! Love, love, LOVE that pretty tea set!!! Ohhh my…between the table and the view…I just don’t think it gets any better!!! Thank you so much for sharing your exquisite table with us! Your photos are also exquisite! This could have come off of the pages of any beautiful decorating magazine!!!

    Warmest wishes,

    PS…love how you used all the sweet little butterfly crackers and croissants too! What a creative and talented lady you are, Mary!!!

  44. June 22, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    This is one of the most beautiful tables I’ve seen! I like everything about it. Perfection!

  45. Pat
    June 25, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    You could fill your own magazine each month. Seriously… I am crazy about this post. It is just so beautiful, my favorite is the floral throw.


  46. June 30, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Such a pretty table. I spent the day watching the butterflies today at my pool. How beautiful to be able to bring them to the table. The colors you picked are refreshing and capture summer at it’s best.

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