Valentine’s Day with Your Sweetheart

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Valentine’s Day with Your Sweetheart

By Brandon Branch, Creative Director

You know, sometimes the sweetest table settings are more about the place than what’s on the table. Paula wanted to have cake and hot chocolate with Michael for Valentine’s Day. Just the two of them in a “romantical private setting” she told me. I suggested we set up a little table in her bedroom and she loved the idea. After all, what’s better for a private setting with your loved one than your bedroom? While I set about decorating a sweet table, Paula hit the kitchen. She outdid herself with her new favorite cake for Valentine’s Day, her Sugared Rose Parade Layer Cake and she also made an extra big pot of Michael’s favorite hot chocolate, Dreamy Creamy Hot Chocolate. Luckily, I got to take a big piece of cake home and drink some hot chocolate while I was setting the table!
Here are the ingredients I used:

Table linen, Vases and Flowers: Paula has a little folding card table that I thought would be perfect as I didn’t have much room. I covered it with an inexpensive piece of burlap for a neutral base. Then I started adding the flowers. The silver samovar is a wonderful antique Paula picked up locally. A Samovar is of Russian and Eastern European descent. It’s used to heat water for tea. This one we think is probably around 70 years old and has a Greek Key and a “B” monogramed on the front. So of course I knew I needed to use it! I filled the samovar and another simple little glass vase with a big bunch of roses in reds, whites and pinks and hung a couple of strands of Paula’s costume jewelry pearls over the spout.

Dishes and Flatware: Paula has a small collection of red willow china that I thought would be perfect to use because of the love story told on the pattern. The story goes something like this:
When China was ruled by emperors, a Chinese mandarin, Tso Ling, lived in the magnificent pagoda under the branches of the apple tree on the right of the bridge, over which droops the famous willow tree, and in front of which is seen the graceful lines of the fence. Tso Ling was Kwang-se’s father. Kwang Se was a beautiful young girl with skin of porcelain and was promised in marriage to a wealthy merchant. She however fell in love with the simple clerk of her father’s a young boy by the name of Chang. Kwang Se and her lover Chang eloped across the sea to a cottage on a small island. The mandarin pursued and caught the lovers, and were about to kill them when the gods turned them into a pair of turtle doves (which are seen gazing at each other at the top of the design on the china). A old poem about the pattern concludes with this verse: “In the oft quoted plate two birds are perceived, High in the heaven above: These are the spirits of Chang and Kwang-se, A twin pair of ever in love”.

I just love this story so much, and I’m hoping Paula can keep Michael still long enough with a big piece of cake that she can tell it to him. I also added some hobnail glass and a few of the sugared rose petals from the cake to finish off the table. Paula wanted to use some pieces of her vintage silver for the flatware. I think it turned out beautiful, with the light shining in so softly.

I guess the moral of this whole story is you don’t have to make a huge fuss for Valentine’s Day. A simple table set in a private place, spending quality time with your loved one can be perfect. I know it will be for Paula and Michael. Happy Valentine’s Day to you all.


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Reader Comments:


Hey Paula your a awesome person, I enjoy your reading your . So thank you post . God bless you. Thank you.

By Sylvia Trigger on February 08, 2014


Hey Mama Paula thank you for the lovely recipes, my family has benefited a lot from them. my boyfriend cant get enough of my cooking which is good for us Black girls as our cooking gets the guy. hopefully wedding bells will be ringing. thanks to you. have a great day. Love Lexie

By Alexina Dlamini on September 20, 2011


I love your program. I've had many difficulties because food was too fat and I started a diet without medical help for me and now they've lost 35 pounds and I am already under weight and still think and know I'm fat but oddly enough your program does I do not think so and oddly enough, and how truth and do not want to eat anything I fixed everything you do and do dishes for my father and cakes for my family because I want and spend the time and when I do not see your program or because they do not have school or doctor (a) I record and watch later, I hope to continue with their work and continue to be the queen of fun butter dried fruit and things "well seasoned"this text should have some errors because I do not there I am very good at English ... here in Portugal and this little-known channel of the network so the food had too little time to come out of nowhere did not even know this existed and I hope one day to meet her and get an answer with a good recipe I know I should get lots of letters and e-mails but i send him an email already good and getting even better answer ~ but if it does not does not matter will not be upset because of that I will continue to have fun with your food 'diet "and his antics kisses a fan Olhão Catherine

By Catarina on February 25, 2011


I had to share in hopes that Paula would read this. Our daughter Maddie Grace recently had to do a report for her second grade class on a famous Georgian, she chose Mrs.Paula Deen. Her report happend to be due the week after we were going to be in Savannah she was more than excited at the thought of going to eat at Lady and Sons per chance to see Paula, I didnt have the heart to tell her it was closed. A few years ago her little brother was critically ill and in the NICU for 6 months, Maddie Grace loved cooking with her Dede (grandmother) when her father and I were spending long hours at the hosptial, and since Zach passed away cooking has become healing for us both. She was very disappointed not to eat but was very excited when we bought her the childrens cookbook and a new apron (that she will have to grown into). She was so proud of her report and her portrait that she drew of Paula, she scored 26 out of 26 points and we could not have been happier. But must of all we feel blessed that cooking and time in kitchen reminds me how special she is and reminds her that even in sad time great memories can be made. Truly Jessica Kirk

By Jessica Kirk on February 14, 2011


I am coming to eat at the resturant on 23rd. I hope we can drive by to see your home and visit Savannah. I love watching your show and any place you might be. I am a southern lady too!!!!!

By Deborah on February 12, 2011



By Leisak on February 11, 2011


Finally a great idea for Valentines/Anniversary Day~! I was going to attempt to make this lovely cake for dh for our 25th Wedding Anniversary/Valentines day, now I have a fabulous table decoration to go with this lovely cake recipe~ Thanks much for great inspiration~! Sindy Anderson

By sindy anderson on February 11, 2011


Hi Paula, I am a Big Fan of your's and the Show. I love trying your Recepies from the Show. Waynes Beef&Mac; was great and the Family loved it also.. Hopefully one day in the Future I will try to make it out there to your Resturant.. I miss the South.. Thank you and have a Happy Valentine's Day... Judy Holmes

By Judy on February 11, 2011


Great article Brandon. You need to link it on your blog. I love how you can effortlessly transform a table into a work of art.

By Greg Kantner on February 10, 2011

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