A few years ago when we were discussing the creation of a new TIMES NEWS website, the topic of blogs came up. I leaned over to the person next to me and whispered, "What the heck is a blog?"

Although it was explained to me, it seemed a little self-indulgent and unnecessary. I just didn't see the point.

Two years ago, while searching the Internet for ideas for a tablescape and centerpiece for a party I was hosting, I came across hundreds of photos that took my breath away. There were dozens and dozens of beautiful table settings, dishes, flower arrangements some with themes, such as Christmas or the Fourth of July, and some just featuring a color scheme, such as soft aqua and chocolate or leaf green, black and white.

I had hoped to find a few ideas, perhaps a teaser from some magazine websites. What I discovered, was a bevy of bloggers, as enamored with dishes and table settings as I was! Who were these seemingly "hostesses with the mostesses"?

Until then, I was the only person of my acquaintance who had not one, but three complete sets of Christmas dishes; three sets of "formal" dishes, including $275 per place setting wedding china; service for eight in pewter plates, including goblets; and several sets of everyday dishes that I would rotate. I have service for 12 in red English transferware that my husband bought me, to which I have added antique and secondhand pieces in blue to expand the set and coordinate with my Americana dining room. In addition to the dishes we eat on, I have dishes that decorate shelves, hang on walls and are tucked into vignettes.

I really and truly thought I was alone in my madness.

As I scanned all of the beautiful photos, I was initially taken with one blog, charmingly entitled "The Tablescaper." I was so over the moon about Alma's beautiful table settings that I had to write and tell her, and admit that I too, was a "dish-aholic." We began corresponding by email and I eventually convinced her to do a tablescape for the TIMES NEWS. Her first was a romantic Valentine's Day setting for two, complete with a rose-strewn table top. She later shared a beautiful Easter tablescape and a Mother's Day breakfast in bed.

It was a real treat for me last year when she was taking a class in New Jersey and we met for dinner.

Alma isn't the only tablescaping blogger. Through her I've discovered several more that I have begun to follow regularly. In addition, most of these bloggers offer decorating and party ideas, as well as recipes, but I find I am most drawn to the table settings.

I have to say, much to my husband's chagrin, these blogs have fueled my lust for dishes. My collection increases at least a little every few weeks, and I now have a full closet in my guest room devoted exclusively to dishes, glasses, flatware and linens in a multitude of colors. I have dinner plates in the shape of a leaf with a tiny Lady Bug on the corner; salad plates shaped like giant strawberries; 20 dinner plates and salad plates featuring a regal turkey, and another 20 soup bowls in the shape of a pumpkin.

And that's just the tip of the porcelain iceberg.

While I can't walk into a store that sells dishes without perusing every last one, at least now I know I am not alone. There are others out there who have not just a closet (OK, and a china cupboard, and a sideboard, etc.) filled with dishes, but entire rooms devoted to them.

So if you too love dishes, feel free to come out of your (china) closet, stand up and be proud!

"My name is Karen, and I am a dish-aholic."

(If you love dishes and tablescaping as much as I do, shoot me an email at kcimms@tnonline.com [1] and I'll share some of my favorite decorating blogs.)