Thanksgiving 2014.
The Rustic table.

I understood Canadian Thanksgiving was coming up.  I really did.  There are pumpkins in the stores, turkeys in supermarket coolers and every time I look at a Pinterest board there’s something made out of straw and burlap staring back at me.

Also, it’s right there on the calendar.  The problem is I didn’t check the calendar. I just sort of based my knowledge of “thanksgiving is coming up” on the general idea that I feel stupid wearing shorts and flip flops into the grocery store, so it must be coming up soon.

What I didn’t realize was it was coming up this weekend.  I need to shove some bread crumbs up a turkey’s ass and QUICK.  I’m not really sure why we have turkey for Thanksgiving.  I’ve never met anyone who really loves turkey.  It’s almost always dry, doesn’t have a lot of flavour and takes all day to cook.  It’s like the fruitcake of the meat world.

But surround it with cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes and an embarrassing amount of farting and waddling and there you have it. The annual Thanksgiving dinner.

Since I am the one who hosts my family’s Thanksgiving dinner every year I need to get going on it.  S.T.A.T.!  (Start Thanksgiving Activities Todayish.)

The table is set.  I have that much going for me. Well that and naturally curly hair. Huh. Now that I think of it, that’s actually Frieda, the least popular character from the Charlie Brown cartoons.

This year I went with a rustic,  dark, moody feeling.  Warm and cozy.  Like an autumn Thanksgiving should be.






The table has a rough burlap runner down the centre with a piece of hardwood on top of that.  When dinner is served, the arrangement will get removed and all the dishes of food can go right on the board.

There’s even more layering with cutting boards on top of the wood board.  This one is my favourite from Cattails.





One of the things I’m most excited about is the fact that all of the food served will have been harvested from my garden.  Everything.  (aside from the poor Turkey) I’m serving a classic Thanksgiving dinner with side dishes that are slightly elevated.  Just a little bit.  For fun.  Elevated as in “churched up”.  Not elevated as in levitating.

Ground cherries will be scattered on the table.




And there will be bowls and jars of my kosher dill pickles which turned out DELICIOUS.  I’ve eaten 3 jars already myself.  Which is all kinds of wrong but all kinds of right.




I’m expecting the black sea salt to be a hit.  Mainly because it looks so good on the table.  Weird little things like using black salt in a black dish are what bring the whole moody table together.

So if you’re wondering about how to do your Thanksgiving table (either this weekend or next month) pick some sort of theme.  It could be something as literal as classic American Thanksgiving, a crisp black and white theme, or something a bit more esoteric like a mood.  If you aren’t feeling all that imaginative, just open a magazine or look at a blog and copy it.  That’ll take all the guess work out and make it way easier.  Which leaves more time for making more stuffing.  You can never have enough stuffing.  Ever.





Of course, if there are those out there who are frightened of black salt, there will also be white.




The dishes are round matte black dinner plates that I found at my local thrift store. I got the whole set including lunch plates and bowls for $9.

The salt dishes were on clearance at The Keeping Room, I bought the vintage cutlery (that I’ve been LOOKING FOR for ages) from a local reader!  Thanks Cornelia!

Betty made the napkins, and half of the flowers in the arrangement are from my community garden plot.   I planted the Amaranths in the spring specifically to use in my Thanksgiving arrangement.  Normally I’d *think* about doing that and then promptly forget all about it.  For some reason, I didn’t. I suspect I forgot something much more important.

Well, like when Thanksgiving is, for instance.




This is one of two tables that will be set. The other one will be one room over, in my front hall, so the 12 or so people   (it’s up to 15 now) can fit comfortably.  Plus the foyer is the perfect spot to sit people I don’t really like.  I’ll tell them they’re in the foyer because it’s away from the mess of the kitchen and because they’re my favourites I wanted to seat them there.




For your table to have an actual harvest feel, put food on it! Don’t just put out pretty decorations and arrangements. And like I said, once the dinner is served the big arrangement in the centre will be moved away, and the food will make its way in on old, rustic stoneware and enamel platters.




The total cost of the arrangement was $27 for the ornamental cabbages and miniature red snapdragons.  The lime green trailing flowers and the tall burgundy flowers are from my garden.




Every year I do this and every year it’s the same.  I think I can keep it together.  I think that things will go smoothly.  It will be a restful, warm and inviting Thanksgiving with my family close.  We’ll all enjoy the food, the kitchen will not become a disaster and the night will end with us crowding around the fireplace singing Frank Sinatra.

Instead, someone’s fingernails will catch on fire, one of the kids will barf, my mother will forget her camera,  everyone will get a stain on their shirt and the night will end not with song, but with us measuring the size of each others heads.




Happy Thanksgiving my fellow Canadians.   I have my fingers crossed that your Thanksgiving will NOT be like the pleasant, fancifully perfect, imaginary version of mine.

Because the real thing is way more fun.



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  1. Susan says:

    I commented on the tree on the wall..last night, wondering what it is also.

  2. Ella says:

    Also–is the dead branchy thing on the wall from your garden? Can’t believe no one has commented on it. i love it!

  3. Ella says:

    This is all so beautiful. I like how the painting in the background matches the mood of the table!

  4. zoe says:

    if you ever need it, i have a stuffing recipe that goes under the skin of the turkey that stops it from being dry – there’s a lot of sausage meat involved :)

  5. JeannieB says:

    It’s going to be a beautiful Thanksgiving weekend here in southern Ontatio, even if they’re forecasting possible flurries. Crisp apples, fireplaces, warm woollie throws, and tables spread with yummy food to share with family and friends. I usually get the grandkids to go out to the front lawn to gather beautiful red/ orange maple leaves to scatter on the dining room table.
    Happy Thanksgiving Karen!

  6. chris aka monkey says:

    karen you know i love your posts but i also love reading all the comments …this is the only blog i do that on… so what about that dam tree lmao…between now and thanksgiving here in the states we have football sundays to figure out food for and i think i will elevate it and serve deep fired wilbur with ketsup and frass in a white bowl and a milkweed salad with fresh dill sauce… what do you think?

  7. Melissa says:

    I’m hoping that this year, my Thanksgiving will include everything from the garden as well, including the turkey, which I still have to figure out how to butcher.

    Like everyone else, I love the tablescape!

  8. Sandy says:

    LOVE your dining room table (the actual table but the whole set-up is lovely too). I look forward to turkey, I think it’s delicious and if it ends up a little dry, well, that’s what gravy is for!
    “Happy Thanksgiving to you my fellow Canadian”!

  9. Deana says:

    If any of your guests should happen to cancel for some reason and leave a hole at the table that needs to be filled, just let me know, I only live a few blocks away. I can be there in a few minutes. You might have seen the flames in our driveway last year when our dear son-in-law tried to deep fry a turkey and set our driveway on fire. Really uncomfortable when the fire truck pulled up and they started laughing. Thankfully we were celebrating on Sunday instead of Monday so my daughter scooted down to KFC for a bucket of chicken. Nothing like a good old traditional KFC Thanksgiving dinner. Love your tables setting. Happy Thanksgiving.

  10. Rondina says:

    So what do I notice? The pink curtains! At least they look pink. They seem to have horizontal lines in them. n’t Don’t know why I didn’t notice them before. Where did you get them?

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  11. cbblue says:

    Beautiful and creative, but we all expect that. You are not answering any questions about the tree on the wall. I hope that means it will be in a future post. I’d try that here but my husband already thinks I’ve traveled off the deep end. I won’t be celebrating Thanksgiving for another month but Karen I am thankful for you! Thank you for a bright spot in my day.

  12. Kat says:

    Everything looks absolutely stunning Karen. Your photography lessons are paying off!!! Now where did you get that little tree on the wall? Did you yank it out of the ground when you found a spot to build your cob oven or landscaping your plot at the community garden? Every photo of the table I kept staring at the tree thinking “brilliant” .

  13. Traci says:

    God that veggie centerpiece is gorgeous!

    On the turkey front, you need an old-fashioned cast aluminum roaster with lid like this:

    We had one growing up and the few times we hosted thanksgiving the turkey was amazing. I actually loved it! It cuts the cooking time and the shape of the lid seems to self-baste the turkey. Delicious!

  14. Rebecca says:

    I love those matte black plates! Actually, I love the entire arrangment. I think ending the night measuring each others’ heads is better than you ending up on the floor of your kitchen (crying?)…didn’t that happen one Thanksgiving? (sorry to bring up sour memories)

  15. Angela says:

    Your table is gorgeous. Please share your stuffing recipe!

  16. Miriam says:

    Please invite me to your house for Thanksgiving. That’s it.

    • Karen says:

      LOL! I would but I believe at this point every seat is taken, including the little small one with the broken leg and wobbly back. :) I keep inviting people and they keep accepting. ~ karen!

  17. Caroline says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Karen! I am also doing an elevated turkey dinner (my pancetta and hazelnut stuffing is to die for!) new this year – a sage and walnut pesto and goat cheese crumble on roasted squash – because I was soooo tired of the same old meal! I really wanted to do a rabbit stew with herbed dumplings but my family got ugly – I thought I might get shanked :)
    I have a new dining room table and I love the idea of a wood plank in the middle (and I have a burlap runner!) so I now have one more thing to do before Sunday – thanks!
    Seriously though, it being the season of thankfulness, I would like to say thank you for entertaining me, inspiring me and sharing your chicken stories with me – even the gross ones!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Caroline. :) Your sage and walnut pesto with goat cheese on roasted squash sounds GREAT! I’d love that! One year I really changed things up and you’re right. People got ornery. ~ karen!

  18. maggie van sickle says:

    Everything looks great Karen and I do not like turkey much either unless it is sliced thin with brie and cranberry sauce all on a marvelous hot panini or pannini or however you spell it. Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your family cause really that is what is is really all about.

  19. Lori Hall says:

    It is all beautiful Karen! You planned it well. The tree on the wall – LOVE IT! Really catches the eye. How did you hang it??

  20. Heather says:

    So this is what you come up with last minute? WOW! I love the idea of the board along the whole table for setting serving dishes on. It looks wonderful.

    We usually do a deep friend capon rather than turkey. The capon is always lovely and moist & don’t knock deep fried turkey til you tried it. The intense heat of the oil totally seals in all the juices. This year we are doing a pork loin roast (Canadian Living recipe – fingers crossed) – the kids will have their turkey when they go to their significant others’ parents the next day.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Karen. It really is the prettiest time of year in Ontario.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Heather. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving! ~ karen (p.s. we did fried turkey one year. Tasted great but it was a bit of a shitshot, lol. If I remember correctly we ran out of oil and there may have been a smallish fire.)

  21. Janet says:

    I’m allergic to turkey, but I serve turkey at Thanksgiving anyway, because only one of my kids is also allergic. We’ll roast a chicken for the two of us.

    I LOVE those little “sel” and “salt” dishes. The table looks fantastic. I’m curious about the table in the foyer. Do you make another huge arrangement for that one?

    Happy Thanksgiving, Karen. I love your advice to expect that things will go awry, but to enjoy the day anyway!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet! Well, so far the table you’re looking at right now has already had 2 extensions added to it, lol. I keep inviting more people. The table in the front hall you can see in this post. It’s the metal round table. 4 chairs will fit around it. I’ll do a smaller arrangement in the middle and then set the table pretty much the same as the main one. :) ~ karen!

  22. Kim C. says:

    Gorgeous! The cinnamon carrots sound delicious. Happy Thanksgiving Karen.

  23. marilyn says:

    i love turkey..dark meat and thanksgiving fave holiday! try brining your turkey ..makes a huge difference

    • Karen says:

      I brine it every year. And you’re right it makes a HUGE difference. I actually brine it in my crisper! It’s the only thing big enough to fit the turkey, brine AND still fit in the fridge. :) ~ karen

  24. Karol says:

    Very nice, Karen. Brilliant idea using the wood plank to place the food. Happy Thanksgiving.

  25. Su says:

    Happy Thanksgiving – I think that you Canadians have it right! Having Thanksgiving at the actual harvest time is brilliant AND you don’t have the insane frenzy from the end of November to Christmas rush I don’t have enough time to get all this crap done that we down here in America do…. plus you have it on a weekend so working folks can actually prepare for the big day…. that being said me and the guy have opted out for years from Thanksgiving and we go Mexico and eat turkey on the beach. Its one holiday we miss all the family drama….And for that opportunity we are truly thankful….

  26. Tigersmom says:

    Gorgeous. I need to know more about this tree on the wall with its roots, please. And are those new drapes? I don’t remember them from other pics, but they are the perfect juxtaposition to the modern/rustic aesthetic you have going on. They add just the right amount of femininity and softness.

    And I can’t even talk about the fact that all of the feast is coming from things you grew (except the turkey, but we know you could do that, too, if you wanted. You have chickens, after all. Not that you would ever, ever, in a million years….well, you know) because it is so far from anything I could do. Impressive and inspirational, as always.

  27. jainegayer says:

    I love the table, beautiful! Enjoy!!

  28. Jody says:

    Happy happy Thanksgiving. I think I prefer Th’giving over Christmas since it is still about family and food but without the self imposed insanity

  29. IRS says:

    I forgot to add that your lemon salad dressing sounds yummy. Any chance you would share the recipe? Pleeeeeease? *whines annoyingly*

  30. Suanne says:

    Ahhhh…the days of only 15 people at Thanksgiving! With our kids, their kids and a few boyfriends/girlfriends and spouses…..we have over 45 that we squeeze into the family room. Its loud and rambunctious and nerve wracking….but its family and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Love Thanksgiving, love family……and LOVE your table. Just makes me wanna come sit down on your sheepskins and have a pickle! Thanks for sharing.

  31. Darlene Cox says:

    First of all YEA!!! It is Thursday so we get a posting!!!!
    Secondly – I adore your dead tree on the wall!!! I have to borrow that idea from you
    How did you attach/hang from the wall?

  32. IRS says:

    The centerpiece is gorgeous. I would leave it on the table the whole night, not just because it’s lovely, but because it’s huge, and in my family, anything that blocks our view of each other also serves to cut down on petty arguments. As does lubrication with plenty of wine. Which I don’t recall you mentioning. Will you be serving libations? Or perhaps your family is better behaved than mine.

    • Karen says:

      Wine and beer. Maybe a martini for my uncle. We’re not huge drinkers. Frankly the huge drinkers have died. Hence the rest of us not being huge drinkers, lol. ~ karen

  33. Melissa says:

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  34. mimiindublin says:

    Is it not still summer????
    I (0bviously) can’t get my head round autumn at all, but I loooove your sheepskins on the benches, cool!

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Karen!

  35. LeeAnn says:

    Beautiful. I love the black plates and black salt. I’ve just bought a black linen runner for our old wooden table. Think I’m going to get some matching serviettes made. The large painting in your pics is stunning from what I can see. Any chance you could post a picture so I can see the whole painting? I’m an artist and paint portraits in chiaroscuro style. Love to see :) Happy thanksgiving and don’t stress.

    • Karen says:

      Hi LeeAnn. You can read a tiny bit about how I got the painting and see a slightly larger version of it I think, here. ~ karen!

      • Cathy Reeves says:

        1. Gotta mention the (old) kitchen floor–it’s the best example of “truck stop tile ” that lives in virtually every Florida home we have looked at. At least the ones in our modest soon to be retired price range. Pure horror.
        2. What is the history of Thanksgiving in Canada?
        3. Have you used the chicken towels?

  36. Ev Wilcox says:

    Centerpiece is very nice, black tableware (and salt!) is also very nice. Think it is wonderful that you grew your own Thanksgiving! Love the plank on the table idea for hot dishes and am going to propose this to husband! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Karen. Miss the daily posts. Just sayin’….

  37. tajicat says:

    Beautiful! Love the center piece, wonderful that you can add so much from your garden(s) for the celebration. I hope everyone appreciates the work you put in. Happy Turkey Day! :)

  38. Penley says:

    Looks wonderful! Particularly love the flower/greenery arrangement in the middle. It’s always strange following internet-land at the change of seasons – we’re going full boar into spring here in Queensland (and up here in the sub tropics spring lasted about three days and it’s now officially summer) so it’s difficult to imagine you northern hemisphere people gearing up for the winter. You’re thinking pumpkins and turkey and we’re thinking BBQ’s and mango salads. Makes for fantastic diversity!

    • Karen says:

      That is funny! I think about that all the time because a lot of my readers for whatever reason are from Australia and New Zealand! So it’s always opposite of what I’m talking about, lol. Except when I’m talking about washing machine motors. It always seems to be washing machine motor season no matter where you live. ~ karen!

  39. Daphne says:

    Stunning tablescape!! Also ,love the dried brush/bush/weed whatever it is,diy or purchased ?

  40. amyfaith says:

    Ok, funny amaranth story: tonight (seriously, just a few hours ago), my son gets on my computer and says to close my eyes ’cause he wants to show me something. He tells me that he wants to show me the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. Now, this is a 14 year old boy, and so his interests and humor tend toward either crude, or very crude. I was, of course, certain that he was trolling me, and fully expected to see something totally rude and/or gross. Instead, I opened my eyes to image upon image of amaranth in full vibrant flower.

    He tells me that he and Nathan (another 14 yo boy!) were discussing today just how lovely amaranth is and perhaps they should try to grow it next spring.

    Wha?? It was as if I got transported to some bizarro land where up is down and left is right.

    And Karen? Your table AND your ability to get things done are, as always, an inspiration. Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Karen says:

      LOL! Well they’re always surprising aren’t they, lol. Amaranth is easy to grow and there are a few different varieties. Tell them to do it! ~ karen

  41. amanda says:

    the first year after moving out of my parents house, I was so very proud of myself for remembering Thanksgiving, and buying everything necessary to host a proper dinner…and then on Christmas Eve the bf and I realized there was nothing in our fridge but beer and milk. Christmas dinner that year was a grilled cheese sandwich and too many margaritas…but hey, it makes for a fun story now.

  42. tracy says:

    Btw- that painting is a fabulous focal point in the room and takes this look to a whole other level! Heirloom or a fabulous find somewhere?

  43. tracy says:

    Love, love it! So unique, so rustic and harvest like! This aesthetic is so you and a refreshing departure from the typical pumpkin and dried leaf table decor we’re all so use to seeing this time of year. Kudos!

  44. Grammy says:

    Happy Thanksgiving. Your family is more entertaining than mine, because I don’t know them. You’d probably think my family is a laugh riot. C’est la vie.

  45. Elizabeth says:

    I timed it right this year. I am in the States fir Canadian Thanksgiving, and with luck, will be in Canada for US Thanksgiving.

  46. mia pratt says:

    Your Thanksgiving table is marvelous, an absolutely perfect combination of rustic and contemporary. Wow, I’m taking notes on ideas for setting mine this year (American Thanksgiving in Mexico). I just can’t get in the mood for a Mexican Thanksgiving, so I’m going to stick with one that reminds me of the good old days with family in the US, with a few local substitutions. Thanks for the inspiration<:}

  47. Susan says:

    PS…you lost me at the ground cherries, an icky memory from my kidhood, my Dad loved ground cherry/apple pie. Which I would make, and hated. My apple pie on the other hand, is fantastic. Even won a local pie baking contest..won me an apple shaped cutting board! Came in second the next year, lost to a stay at home Dad. I never entered again, couldn’t take the rejection…
    Love the black salt, and dishes.

  48. Susan says:

    What’s that tree thing on the wall?
    Love it…I need one now!

    • Jan In Waterdown says:

      I noticed that funky piece of wall art too! I’m guessing Karen saw this thing growing in her garden, yanked it up, shook off the dirt and plunked it on her wall!? It reminds me of the fab textile work done by local (Greensville) artist Lorraine Roy, whom I recently “discovered” on the Dundas studio tour. You can see her stuff on . . . it’s lots of trees and roots and gorgeous colours . . . would love to own some! Have a yummy Thanksgiving everyone and a restful day afterwards!

  49. Erika says:

    Absolutely fabulous! Although your Clockwork Orange chairs creep me out a bit.

  50. ruth says:

    You table is wonderful! I like turkey.

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