The Real Thanksgiving

As you may know last weekend was Thanksgiving in Canada. You may know that because a) you’re Canadian or b) you read my post a week ago about setting my Thanksgiving dining room table.






It all looked so idyllic. Like something from a magazine where guests arrived with pies in hand, sipped apple cider and playfully threw straw at each other. There may have been a before dinner game of touch football in the backyard where no one’s hair got messy and grass stains and bloody elbows miraculously disappeared immediately.

I think we all know that’s not how things went. So I thought it would be a nice treat for all of you to see how Thanksgiving actually went in this series of photos I took the liberty of taking throughout the day.

Because as perfect as the Thanksgiving table looked, that’s pretty much where the perfection began and ended.

The night started off like any other Thanksgiving dinner I’ve ever had, with the guests arriving exactly one hour late claiming starvation.




I should probably apologize to them or send out a fruit basket because every room in my house must have been filled with ghosts or entities or a bad smell because without saying why, each and every one of them refused to venture out of the kitchen.  Maybe there were snakes.  The other rooms could have been filled with snakes.  Yeah, I should send out fruit baskets for sure.




By 7 o’clock the buffet was served even though it wasn’t a buffet.




Like a pack of snarling jackals, guests were clawing their way to the carcass, quickly turning on each other in an attempt to show their dominance.  Soon the pack had been thinned out, all of them terrified to get in the way of the sharp toothed head of the pack …




… Betty.  The most courageous, dangerous and martini filled of all the jackals.





Within seconds all the others had left the kitchen, presumably to feed on whatever else they could scavenge in the other rooms.  Snakes probably.




Feeling safer with the other animals at bay, the Betty, put her martini down.  This allowed her the use of both her paws for tearing at the turkey skin.




Armed again with the martini and a fistful of carnage, the Betty becomes visibly more sedate and approachable, slinking out of the room to devour her prey in the dark corner of a room.




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Several hours late and 2 guests short (they arrived near the end of the meal) it was on.  The free for all of eating, scarfing, snorting and laughing.  It was around this time that the kids spilled chocolate milk all over their table, which I was wise enough to cover with a pure white, antique linen tablecloth.  ‘Cause I’m smart like that.

As you can see, by the time dinner came around I couldn’t even be bothered to put the mashed potatoes in a bowl. They got served in the pot they were cooked in, just out of reach of the Betty, who you can see is eyeing them proprietarily.




After dinner some guests stayed at the dining room table while other wandered into the living room to watch the hockey game even though I hid the remote control.  I do that every year so no one will watch television.  Every year they find it.  They’re like raccoons.


Found this in my laundry closet.  No idea how or why.  Once I realized it was the roasting pan from the turkey it all made a little more sense. My family was insane.




Here’s a quick timeline of how everything went down this Thanksgiving of 2014.


4:30 p.m. – It’s a beautiful sunny day with a slight chill in the air.  Light a fire in the pizza oven outside for everyone to sit around with snacks prior to dinner.

5:00 p.m. – Stand at door with smile plastered on anticipating the arrival of guests at scheduled time.

5:20 p.m. – Smile waning.

5:35 p.m. – Scowling begins.

5:59 p.m. – Guests arrive, blow past the beautiful outdoor fire, head into the kitchen and set up some sort of family refugee camp around the cooked turkey.

6:00 p.m. – Bikram Yoga niece  begins to experience slight signs of cat allergies.

6:02 p.m. – Bikram Yoga niece is writhing on the floor itching, coughing and oozing.  Eyes are watering, mascara is running, head seems to have swollen to a bizarre proportion.  In a turn of luck, only the exposed portions of her skin are covered in hives.

6:23 p.m. – Get punched in the vagina by one of the children.  Overall the night includes approximately 5 vagina punches.

6:50 p.m. – Lock up the vodka and vermouth.

7:00 p.m. – Roll Bikram Yoga niece over and drop some nuts into her mouth in a gesture of goodwill.  Since she’s lost most of her motor skills, proceed to hold her chin and slam it up and down to mimic chewing, then rub her throat to help her swallow.

7:01 p.m. – Remember Bikram Yoga niece is allergic to nuts.

7:30 p.m. – Serve dinner that took 3 full days to prepare.

7:35 p.m. – Burp and then stare at the carnage.

8:00 p.m. – Realize I forgot to put the radishes out during dinner and try to push them on people during the dessert portion of the evening.

8:15 – midnight – I have no idea what happened during this portion of the evening because I was stuck in a constant state of yawn, which resulted in my eyes being closed for 4 hours.

Midnight – The last guests shuffle out the door with leftover pie and a handful of radishes.

12:20 a.m. – Smash all the perishable food into the fridge and decide to worry about the mess in the morning.  Tired.  Exhausted.  So very tired.  Go upstairs.  Find my favourite, cozy pajamas, dim the lights and …

12:25 a.m. – … discover wet cat vomit all over  bed.  Debate the long lasting psychological effects of sleeping in cat vomit.

12:26 a.m. –  Strip the bed, throw the vomitty sheets in the washing machine (that’s when I discovered the roasting pan in my laundry hamper), put new sheets on the bed,  grab a cookie from downstairs, step over a ball of wheezing that I assume is Bikram Yoga niece, lay down and go to bed.


I’m writing this post from my bed, which I hope to get out of just in time for Christmas dinner.  Which will be at my sister’s house.

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  1. Lynn (really spelled w/ an "e", but somebody else already has that spelling on here) says:

    Did The Betty sew her tunic out of Rough Linen fabric? Whether she did or didn’t, it’s gorgeous!

  2. Shelly says:

    Sorry to dissapoint all of you turkey-ass-skin-eaters, but look at the picture. That’s not the ass end of the turkey, it’s the neck / breast. ( …or maybe Canadian turkeys do things differently.) That crispy skin is always devine. Thee most awesome peices of a turkey are the two dark meat tenderloins on the back. YUM! I would wrestle any of my family members for those. Oh man, now I want to cook a turkey and smell it in my house! Someone make a spray air Freshener that smells like turkey dinner, please. Thanks for sharing your T-day Karen, and i don’t know how you found time to actually take pictures.

  3. LazySusan says:

    I see you use Kitchen Bouquet, or whatever it’s called in Canada. And you have a fabulous kitchen! No surprise everyone wanted to hang out in there. Looking forward to the big reveal, and US Thanksgiving so I can get some turkey! I always put the giblets into the stuffing, after sauteeing them in butter. My gravy secret is a combination of neck water and potato water.

  4. JeannieB says:

    Makes me want to cry, and, laugh. You had a real, Canadian, family Thanksgiving Karen.
    So funny!
    You’re a great writer.

  5. Yolanda Tomaszewski says:

    Why didn’t I go to the dollar store before going out and buying blackboard paint taping out , painting, pulling off a corner of paint with the tape. I could have saved all that trouble and expense. I do love having my board hidden away in the cupboard. I have a cork board in the other cupboard. It cleaned up my fridge… for about a week or so

  6. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    What a great read! Thank you.

  7. Debbie says:

    I loved reading this. Moat amazingly, I realized your menu board was real! I thought you just had it for pictures. It is real and I love it. Your turkey looked wonderful. I hope your Bikram Yoga Niece is doing well – my brother was allergic to corn, eggs poultry, legumes, nuts, cats (and every other animal in existence), dust, grass and just about everything else (he is still allergic to animals, egg yolks and some nuts).

    Thanks for putting a smile on my face which should last for the four and a half hour drive I am about to take for the dreaded (actually, I am fine) high school reunion.

  8. Marion says:

    Sounds like you all had a great Thanksgiving! I love all the pictures of Betty and that martini!!! hahaha

    Beautiful kitchen too btw! I can see why nobody wanted to go anywhere else :-)

  9. Sharon says:

    You are hilarious how you explain things. Im crying from laughing so hard.

  10. Su says:

    I too love the turkey butt covered in dressing…. your family is as normal as ours and everyone else…. hours, days prepping the meal and EVERYONE hangs out in the kitchen….. even if its not as nice as yours…. lovely table too…. BTW I made your broccoli soup last nite…. added some onions and bacon to it… BEST SOUP EVER…. don’t know why it tasted so good but it did…..

  11. Brenda says:

    Sometime in March or April, after the last snow has melted, I usually find my turkey roaster outside on my deck, where I’ve tossed it to get it out of the way (my kitchen is very small!). And then I argue with myself for several minutes about whether I can still use the frozen, congealed, fatty broth inside of it to make my famous Cream of Turkey Tortellini soup (“But it’s been frozen all this time! It’s still good, right?”)

  12. Irene says:

    I love that mama Betty has become “The Betty”. Perfect. :-D

  13. Cred says:

    The Betty- when your name becomes a title you know it’s been earned. Awesome!

  14. Mary says:

    Looks great, but I especially love Betty’s tunic. Would she share where she bought it? pretty please. M.

  15. Brenda says:

    Oh boy………..I needed that laugh. Thank you!!!

  16. mickey says:

    Betty….I love your outfit!
    Karen……Was there no ‘gobble, gobble’ contest this year?

  17. Gretchen Sexton says:

    =SIGH= Fun Thanksgiving tale! Betty wins the prize (or you do for writing about her….) for her style.
    Made me look forward to our coming Thanksgiving holiday!

  18. Dan says:

    Wait, other than the boy (and boys fit in anywhere), there was only one dude there? He’s a brave, brave man. My SO forgot her wallet one day when she went for a nail thing with the girls. I walked into the room and a dozen lady heads whipped around. I swear I saw the light glinting off of fangs. I just dropped the wallet at the door and backed out slowly.

  19. Rebecca says:

    Hahahaha Betty! I love her. So…you guys are diet coke fans, eh?

  20. Jody says:

    You are too freaking funny. Vagina punches. What happened to the men or were they all wearing cups? Love Betty rockin’ the tunic and skinny jeans and red specs. Love it!

  21. Jackie says:

    This is hysterical!! My favourite part is also the stuffing stuck to the ass!!!

  22. Jean munroe says:

    Love that tree, too. Am guessing you have a story about it?

  23. Ev Wilcox says:

    Having “things” happen is the real truth of Thanksgiving dinner! When we have a family event I end up shooing people out of my kitchen–can’t stand it! Your kitchen is beautiful, Karen. Well done! Chocolate milk and cat vomit just rounded out the day. Happy Thanksgiving!

  24. Heather says:

    This couldn’t possibly be pictures from my Thanskgiving – there aren’t dozens of wine bottles on the table – which explains how our dinner slowly (umm….quickly) rolls downhill. I did up one of those candles you see on Pinterest – layered with lentils, beans & popping corn in a vase. My (adult) daughter thought it would be fun to take a kernel of popping corn & put it in the candle….fortunately I stopped her in time. It probably would have been a better story if I let her do it.

    Love, love, love the “tree” on the wall of your dining room. What is it made of? I never noticed it in the pics before. Also, did you use blackboard chalk paint on the inside of your kitchen cupboard or did you mount a chalkboard there?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Heather! Full post on the “tree” coming up and that’s chalkboard mactack on the cupboard! I found it at Dollarama years ago. You could buy it by the roll. :) ~ karen

  25. Karen says:

    Sounds like a typical family dinner – but you forgot the part where the household pets try to steal the food off the table… It probably happened tho’ – that would be what caused the cat vomit on the bed :) Family caring and sharing – what holidays are all about!

  26. Beckie says:

    Betty RAWKS!

  27. Tigersmom says:

    Great post!!!! Families are such good fodder. I take great comfort in knowing every family has its crazies. And I mean that in an affectionate way.

  28. Glynis says:

    Hi, I’m a first time commenter but a long time lurker.
    In the second picture is Betty demonstrating how to get the very last drops from a bottle of upended wine?

  29. Catherine says:

    That Betty is a one! She got the best best bit of the whole dang turkey! If I did that my Dad would have whipped my greasy little turkey grabbing fingers off with the carving knife. And she was so shameless! Love her style. Looked like a great family gathering. Kitchen looks fab by the way.

  30. Nicole says:

    Ps: We love your kitchen window frames in black. My husband and I have been after that look. We’ve got a mix of white pvc trim newer windows and old aluminum trim ones in our house we got last year. The aluminum has worked out to be paintable provided its not too cold outside which can cause the paint to sweat off before drying on the frame. (My husband painted those ones last winter here near Sf, California and there were some record cold nights) Anyway, I really wanna get all of the windows matching ideally without replacing any for a while) I’m thinking the pvc won’t paint well… Are yours iron/metal black framed or pvcish or black painted wood? Just curious….they look really great!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nicole. There’s a real kitchen reveal post coming up soon. Either this Monday or the next. The windows are the original windows so they’re very old and very wood. :) I just painted the wood mullions black. ~ karen!

    • Rondina says:

      Make chalk paint out of the paint you used. You can Google recipes. I bought the carbonate over the Internet and it takes such a small amount that it will most likely last me the remainder of my life. I put some in a first coat on some things because it tends to fill holes in and certainly makes the second coat stick well. Like I said, it sticks to anything and lasts—indoors or out.

  31. Nicole says:

    Thanks for sharing your thanksgiving with us. You and your family look like a lot of fun and I bet they loved your new kitchen. It turned out great. Good design and execution. I only knew it was thanksgiving in Canada before reading this, because we sell Downsview Cabinetry from Canada. Downsview and your Blog are my favorite things from Canada. Happy Thanksgiving, Karen!

  32. Tracie Berry says:

    Loved your rustic table post, but the following island pic had me confused, as I had apparently completely forgotten your entire kitchen reno!! Betty just cracks me up, plus she has style up the wazoo! (which just so happens to be the name of my Up-North Mackenzie dart team) Coincidence I’m sure. I agree with Cynthia, that dark-haired smiley faced man looks quite appealing. That’s what she said, right? Wow, you and your sister look so much alike…too many things in this post and subsequent comments to remember…although I do admire Margaret. Kudos to you for your realistic pics of family moments. They are never perfect, always something askew…which is what in the end, makes them perfect.

  33. Kelli says:

    I will have to try the stuck to turkey ass stuffing! The coveted parts in my family are the heart and liver of the turkey and I’m too young (at 35) to get more than a sliver.

  34. janni says:

    Thanks, Karen, for keeping it “real”. So nice to know not only my best planned intentions for idyllic holiday dinners go awry. If it can happen to the Queen of the Kitchen beautiful (and your kitchen IS beautiful to me) it can happen to anyone! Love your attitude :) jk

  35. Lin says:

    What a normal family you have! Three days prep, 2 hour annihilation…hmmm sound bout right. Vayjayjay punch…very funny. Cat vomit…been there, done that, a couple times cept it was cat poop. Hate doin laundry at midnight. What is it about the ‘ass’ of a turkey? My mother used to love it too and I know people who will fight over it! Isn’t it a chunk of skin wrapped fat? You have a georgous kitchen and the table setting was awesome! Thanks for the Thanksgiving post! Happy hibernation til Christmas dinner.

  36. Cynthia says:

    On second scrolling I over-calculated the sisters at the table. Dark-haired smiley faced man looks like a nice brother in law.

    • Karen says:

      Dark haired smiley faced man is Bikram Yoga niece’s husband! :) There are 3 daughters total. And there a couple of other nieces in the photos. Fish Pedicure’s daughters. ~ karen!

  37. Cynthia says:

    So, I am guessing you have three sisters? Fish pedicure, pink tool belt and another blonde one there at the table Then Bikram Yoga niece who is also stealing turkey skin?

    Vagina punch. Yikes. I can never understand the physics of how these things happen. My husband regularly squawks that the dog “stood on my nuts”. There is much bending over and scowling.

    The dog is a 4kg pomeranian and is sitting on my husband’s lap every time. I did ask how come ‘his nuts” were up on his lap, but I stopped listening because I don’t really care. I think he is showing off and after attention.

    Same reason those kids do bagina punches.

  38. chris aka monkey says:

    oh dam i had to take a hit off my pro=air i was laughing so hard,,i would rather have a vayjayjay punch than a full tilt boogie head bang those little crumb cruncher’s have heads like rocks, betty reminds me of what’s her name on ncis los angeles , and true story my crown son got his skinny ass behind the couch and i didn’t know he was there until he started snoring …. you had what typically is a family dinner loved the pics and the story any story that ends in cat puke makes me laugh and wilbur has shut himself up inside a piece of leaf so i guess he’s going into the change.. i am glad really tire of cat poop xx

  39. Margaret K. says:

    It wouldn’t be a family dinner if everyone just sat down nicely at the table and let you serve the way you planned. But I can understand their wanting to stay in that lovely kitchen. Pretty sure, though, that it’s the neck end of the turkey that Betty is skinning.

  40. Jennifer says:

    Betty, a martini and the turkey ass skin. I love it!! But not as much as I love your centerpiece, it’s beautiful!!

  41. Grammy says:

    I like your family. But I LOVE your kitchen. You know why everyone went straight there and stayed.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Grammy. Full post coming up (it was supposed to be this week but wasn’t obviously) soon. Either this coming Monday or the next. ~ karen

  42. Amber says:

    The Pope’s Nose!!! Betty eating the Pope’s Nose! Love it! And I fight my dad for it every Thanksgiving.
    He wins, because he carries the tray out to us while munching on it.

  43. Ella says:

    Diet Coke runs in the family? :)

  44. Wisconsingal says:

    I’m trying to decide how I feel about Lindsay H’s hahahahaha about your being punched in the vagina. But part of your story reminds me of the time I woke up with my hand and hair smeared in dog vomit – the rest was spread over the quilt I was sleeping under. I could have used a martini then. I will say that your family, with your interesting quirks and foibles, is very attractive. So people probably still like all of you. It does help. And the Betty looks especially terrific, even with turkey ass skin and stuffing in one hand and a martini in the other.

  45. TucsonPatty says:

    I want some stuffing! Unless you put meat or giblets in it, I don’t care if I am a vegetarian, I’ll eat stuffing stuck to turkey ass skin! I am happier if it is just dressing and not from the butt of the bird, but sometimes you gotta take one for the team. I’m sorry about your vajayjay and your niece – is she up and out of the house after she finished helping you clean?

    • Karen says:

      Bikram Yoga niece is vegetarian too but I saw her scarfing down stuffing. I put it in the turkey, but line the turkey with cheesecloth so it doesn’t get any gross innard bits in it. NO meat or giblets in the stuffing. But I do simmer the neck and giblets and add the water to the gravy. But don’t tell my family. They’d die if they knew that’s why my gravy was good. ~ karen!

      • Carolyne says:

        Cheesecloth and giblet/neck water are my secrets. How did you find out? Did you sneak eat the heart and gizzard? I did.

      • Olga says:

        my sister used to dated Turkish guy (he was a Muslim). One time we decided to make some potatoes chips at home and fried them in pork fat, he ate them and thought those were the best chips he ever had!

  46. Melanie says:

    Forget Ikea hot dogs — I’m pretty sure Betty is my spirit animal.

    • Karen says:

      I’m still angry at Betty for eating that stuffing stuck to the ass. It’s my favourite part. Funny thing, there was a tiny bit of stuffing stuck to ass left and as I was cleaning up the food and found it, my friend’s mother who was just getting ready to leave said “I’LL TAKE THAT!”. And she took it, lol. ~ karen!

  47. dana says:

    Your mother will get a hoot out of this post. Very funny! She totally thinks she is getting away with picking at that bird. She looks cute in her little tunic top, too. I LOVE YOUR ISLAND! The wood is gorgeous. I would give my left tit for a kitchen that size.
    By the way, I made your chili tonight. Ish… I sorta-ish made your chili recipe tonight. Had leftover pork loin in fridge so I used that instead of ground beef. It disgusts me. Also added a can of white beans because there were no kidney beans. And we ate it over noodles just so I dont need to make dinner tomorrow night. Did not add all the peppers either. Instead, I used roasted red peppers, chili flakes, and Franks Redhot for the kick. Oh… AND I sneaked in a half cup of plain canned pumpkin. It made no difference in the taste and it thickened it.It was so good!! Thanks for the recipe. Ish… :)

  48. Valerie says:

    Priceless. It should all be filmed. It would be in competition with National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

    The truth of it is that all family holiday dinners have portions of your Thanksgiving dinner party in them.
    At one of my family dinners I found someone (they will remain nameless) behind one of the couches, sleeping and they remained there until the middle of the night, I guess, when they finally trundled off home.
    Holiday spirit – you’ve got to love it.

  49. Olga says:

    I wish I can have one Thanksgiving dinner like that. The only thing I can remember about our Thanksgiving is a lot of swearing prior to it because guest are coming and I’m still not done playing Martha on our kitchen , then everything goes blank and then somehow I’m cleaning up all the mess after everyone.
    On the picture where everyone is sitting at the table, the lady next to your mom, is it by any chance your moms sister? They look similar, actually everyone on that side of the table look similar. (o:

    • Karen says:

      Hi Olga. There’s plenty of swearing at our dinners too. The lady beside my mother is my eldest sister who is known around these parts as Fish Pedicure. ~ karen!

      • Olga says:

        My apologies, it was late, and I couldn’t remember if you have two or one sister. I hope I didn’t make your sister (or you) feel ancient. lol
        I think it’s very awesome that your kitchen is now a heart of your home where everyone wants to hang out.
        Ohh Karen, how much I wish we could hang out together <–this is wine speaking, but it would be totally cool. I think of you everytime our Canadian relatives coming down to visit. And I think "they should of brought Karen with them". Which is really weird lol

  50. Lindsay H says:

    Hahahaha. Punched in the vagina.

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