Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving weekend knocked me flat. I'm still recovering.

The actual day? That was wonderful. I did so much cooking on Wednesday that I found myself oddly at loose ends on Thursday midday. I showered, leisurely. I fiddled with the table, which we'd set the night before. It was lovely. There was the inevitable chaos when the hour to eat approached and we attempted to figure out how to keep ten different things hot when our oven will only hold two things at once. The answer? Have another glass of champagne and accept the reality of lukewarm side dishes.

the table, set
{the table, set}

rolls rising
{rolls rising}


setting up
{setting up}


the meal
{the meal}

We had a cobbled together table to seat twelve, family, good food and lots of chatter. The heirloom lace tablecloth was spotted with cranberry sauce and candle wax. I like to think that the ancestor who painstakingly crocheted it would appreciate that. The use it gets, the love it sees. Things are for using. Period. (And for carefully laundering and mending post use, of course - boiling water takes cranberry stains right out. A quick freeze lets you pop the wax off easily).

the aftermath, dining room
{the aftermath, dining room}

the next morning
{the next morning}

the aftermath, kitchen
{the aftermath, kitchen}

Post-Thanksgiving, when I prefer to be napping and eating leftover turkey sandwiches, simply refused to cooperate. Unexpected, urgent chores popped up. We were in bed late and up early every day. Our car suddenly developed an unnerving tendency to stall for no apparent reason, and the actual reason ended up being two unrelated problems, one of which was the alternator (ouch), so we were at the shop twice over the course of one day. I've never been so grateful that I've been going to the same mechanic since I learned to drive. Even if he does make me watch a slideshow of process photos after every service visit.

Even in the chaos there are so many things to be grateful for - a family (and a mechanic) who loves you, a bounty of leftover cheese and crackers, a husband (!) who will push a stalled car through a left turn at an intersection with you, a wiry fox terrier who trustingly allows you to groom her unruly fur and doesn't even try to bite you once. I don't have photos of those things, but they exist.


  1. I wish I had had the possibility to prepare in advance the way you did (I was traveling for work until the day before), but I ended up in the kitchen all day on Thursday and totally burned out! But somehow, the meal always seems worth it.

    Despite the day after, it sounds like you had a great holiday, too!

  2. beautiful. i hope the recovery process is going well. i think my favorite photo is "setting up"… i just love the simplicity and careful preparations that it evokes. (and a second favorite--"the next morning"). and now, on to christmas! hopefully you've been able to steal a moment for a cup of christmas tea?

  3. Love the champagne flutes!! The table looks great!! Classic and chic = perfection!


  4. Your table looked beautiful! I definitely agree with things are made to be used. I inherited a massive collection of china from my grandmother who made it clear to me that she didn't want it to collect dust in a cupboard. I don't use it everyday, but whenever we do, I know she's smiling at me for using the beautiful gold rimmed pieces while I eat a non-holiday meal.

  5. It all sounds really nice. wish they celebrated thanksgiving here in Amsterdam as well!

  6. I loved reading this post! It's made me feel very festive and excited about Christmas (We miss out on Thanks Giving being a bit British you see) and now I can't wait :)

  7. Beautiful photos! Everything looks so clean and classic.

  8. May I humbly make a suggestion for how to keep food warm when you're so fabulous that you've prepared much of it ahead of time? Vintage warming trays! You can often find them at yard sales. Champagne is certainly a great way to just let it go... but after all the work you did preparing it, having a warming tray on hand could help to do it justice. :)

    And yes, the ancestor who stitched that together would absolutely appreciate it being used with love! What a lovely thought.

  9. Sounds beautifully relaxing, even though you were busy, I hope you relished in your families company!

  10. Sounds like a lovely Thanksgiving. I love that tablecloth. It's gorgeous.

    I can totally sympathize with the alternator. My old car's alternator sputtered to death, nearly stranding me a couple times and almost getting me a massive parking ticket once (stupid university lots). I'm glad you have a well-trusted mechanic, though.

  11. Love your china and it is great to see it in action! Such a great choice, it makes for a beautiful table and looks incredible with all your things, especially the gorgeous tablecloth!

  12. That cheese platter looks incredible. Great way to start off the Holiday meal!


  13. You amaze me! I did my first Thanksgiving and it was somewhat of a disaster... and I was only cooking for two!

  14. @ Vanessa - Yes, I am incredibly lucky to be able to take the day before off almost every year! It makes things so much easier.

    @ Ashley Maureen - Yep! I snuck in the first cup of Christmas tea the morning after Thanksgiving. It goes against my caffeine ban, but I figured a cup a morning daily won't hurt too much!

    @ Maia - Vintage warming trays would be lovely! I would just have to figure out how to fit them in my apartment. Our entire kitchen was covered and I ended up setting up the coffee service in the bedroom! Entertaining in an apartment is definitely interesting.

    @ Kristy - This is the second car where I've had to replace the alternator. I think I'm cursed. It's so pricey! I was secretly hoping it was the battery, but I knew it was the alternator.

    @ Michelle - The first Thanksgiving is so hard! This is the first we've hosted, but I've been doing the majority of the planning/cooking for the last 7 years, so I have a pretty serious advantage. Once you get a few under your belt, it gets so much easier.

  15. Love your blog, Rachel. I started reading a few weeks ago after your feature on 100 Layer Cake, and I'm so glad I found you! I picked up some good wedding ideas...and now I feel like I'm getting good life ideas, too. :)

  16. this all looks so amazing - and what you said about the tablecloth was so true. we own our possessions, they don't own us, so we should use them for their purpose!

  17. What a pretty table! I especially love the stemless wine glasses and the champagne flutes! We got the same ones from our crate and barrel!

  18. Where are those champagne glasses from? I also adore those candlesticks!

  19. Beautiful, Rachel!

  20. beautiful photos. and it is a great idea to show both pre-party and after-party photos.
    have a Cupcake sweet day!

  21. These photographs are so beautiful--you set the table with such grace! Thanks for sharing with us :)


  22. My Thanksgiving day was actually pretty chill; I stayed up late to make pies and then had to work (plasmodium needs to eat, too!). But there was still a lovely dinner at the end of the day, which made it all worth it.

  23. I love this post and I love the table settings and I love your perspective. Jeez, am I corny or what? LOL...

  24. Such beautiful photos and I love seeing the China in action! Love this post. Even in the chaos, so much to be thankful for.

  25. your table setting is light and lovely! thank u for the beautiful post and pictures. have an awesome weekend. bisous fois dix!

    martha from 'a bisous life' ;)

  26. You are host extraordinaire! Looks like a lovely tablescape. I agree - it's tricky heating up so many things in the oven. Maybe a double oven will one day be in your future. :)

  27. every single detail is perfect...magic.

  28. Everything is so beautiful. I found your blog via your drink tags! I love them! Do you have a template that your willing to share? Thanks

  29. Ditto to Lisa's comment - Passover's coming up next week, with the obligatory 4 cups of wine PER PERSON, and I'd love to use your template for the drink tags!


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