Thanksgiving 2011 Festivities in Full

Several years ago my nephew ate so much at Thanksgiving he threw up.  Obviously the only thing to do under such circumstances was to have a plate made for him that said “I ate so much I barfed”, on it, which we then served his dinner on the next Thanksgiving.

This is the way the holidays go around  here.  And there, wherever you are, I imagine.  Not that people randomly vomit out your beautiful meal, but things don’t go picture perfect for anyone.

EXCEPT ME!  Because on Sunday night when I had my family over for Thanksgiving dinner everything went exactly according to plan.  It was perfect.

The guests arrived when they were supposed to. They all sat outside, basking in the unseasonably warm fall weather while I got things organized for dinner inside.

I burnt my finger on the oven.  Not a big deal.  Didn’t ruin the day or anything.  Things were still pretty perfect.

Of course …

At one point the house became a massive Matchbox track to all the kids in attendance, who themselves were acting as Matchbox cars.  Only faster and wilder.  In fact, it was probably more like the Indy.  The race consisted of – out the back door, through the back gate,  down the sidewalk, through the front gate, through the front door, through the house, into the kitchen.  Stop.  Scream as loud as you can.  Repeat.

For the entire Sunday.  While people sat around drinking beer watching them.  So I guess, technically it was probably more like Nascar.

The game was either gonna end with stitches or with the turkey hitting the table. Luckily it was the turkey hitting the table that brought the race to an end.

But other than that it was perfect.

I found pie in the curtains.  That wasn’t totally perfect.  But not bad.

Other than, those few little things – picture perfect.

Oh!  Took a chunk out of my toe by closing  the oven warming drawer on it,  one kid got a screaming earache, I forgot to buy wine, we ran out of pie, the turkey was overcooked, Betty got tipsy and confessed to loving the show Cake Boss, and 9 out of the 14 guests left with a cranberry sauce stain on themselves.

Other than that, picture perfect.  See?  Here’s proof.  Whatever.


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cute little vignette  of straw and mini pumpkins outside where everyone sat prior to dinner

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conversation area where people talked about politics and Russian literature.  And Cake Boss.

Thanksgiving 2011 3

continuing the theme of white pumpkins throughout the backyard


Thanksgiving 2011 4

miniature bales of straw with mums in a vintage earthenware pitcher



Thanksgiving 2011 5

a little appropriate reading material for when there’s a lull in the Russian literature conversation

by the way, i TOTALLY didn’t place that leaf there.  It randomly fell from the sky in a photographically pleasing manner


Thanksgiving 2011 6

outside the chicken coop I had full sized bales of straw for sitting on, softened with a classic Hudson’s Bay blanket

the theme of straw, mums and white pumpkins continues



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the view from the bales of straw

disturbingly, also the view from the dining room window



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to create continuity, I brought the same theme indoors to the dining room table

jugs of mums, white pumpkins, vintage dishes and gold glittered pine cones


Thanksgiving 2011 09

table set for 14

Thanksgiving 2011 10

still missing some chairs on the far side of the table.  hadn’t scrounged them up yet


Thanksgiving 2011 11

this year I used all of my mismatched vintage and antique dishes with no chargers



Thanksgiving 2011 12

an almost gleaming silver pitcher.  too gleaming would have been too perfect for the table.  

I wanted a more rustic feel so i left a bit of tarnish.  on purpose.  honestly.



Thanksgiving 2011 14

the table runners were my famous dollar store garbage bags along with …



Thanksgiving 2011 13

the occasional feed bag from my chicken feed

See?   I wasn’t fibbing.  Everything was absolutely picture perfect.  As all dinner parties are.  Until  the actual guests arrive.


  1. Vanessa says:

    I LOVE this table setting!! I was all excited, making notes, getting ready to run to the good will for mismatched plates, thinking I’d make the table runners out of burlap… You see Thanksgiving is my holiday (I wanted Halloween, but my sister-in-law stole it. we live in the country, so not good for trick or treating, but still I’d do it better). Every body shows up with their drinks of choice (big Italian family, I can’t afford to keep them in liquor) and I get to cook. But then I realized, this year we are going to my Aunt & Uncle’s beach house in Monterey. I know, I know “Poor me, a week in Monterey with family at a house ON the beach” but I really will miss cooking. Maybe I’ll do it anyways for just my family… we’re gonna need left overs!

  2. Janelle says:

    Beautiful – and in my opinion (1) it’s the weird dysfunctional family crap that makes it so; and (2) chargers are dumb and take up too much table space (nice call)!

  3. Trysha says:

    I ADORE white pumpkins.

    In our house the kids run the Carrasco 500. They run circles around the wall that separates the kitchen and living room.

    What was on the menu…or have I not gone back far enough yet?

    • Karen says:

      Trysha – I don’t think I mentioned the menu for this year. It’s pretty much the same every year with everyone contributing the same dishes to make it easy. Thanksgiving is at my house every year so I’m responsible for the turkey, stuffing, gravy and mashed potatoes. Oh! And usually the White Trash Salad (search it .. the recipe is posted on my site). This year I also made BBQed asparagus with olive oil and parmesan cheese. My sister brought turnip, my other sister pumpkin and apple pies. There was also broccoli casserole and rolls. And as far as I can remember … that was all. :) ~ karen

  4. Emma says:

    I aspire to have a Thanksgiving table like yours. It’s absolutely gorgeous and perfect! The mixture of classic and modern is amazing.
    I just cant enough of these crafty ideas!

  5. Gayla T says:

    What kind of table seats 14? The dining room in my craftsman era bungalow is 25.6 ft long but I can’t find a table really long that I or any other normal person can afford. Why did you already have Thanksgiving 2011 when it is not even Halloween yet? Can I move the holidays around to my specifications and how do you get by with it? That would work so much better than being locked into what suits everyone else. Taking that a step further, I could start on it and when it was ready just call everyone and tell them today is the day so get on over here. The thing about you and I is that I’m as nutty as you are so all this makes sense.

    • Karen says:

      Gayla – O.K. Here we go … the answers to your questions. I had my table custom made. It was $1,800 for the table and 2 leaves. When I redid my entire house a few years ago, I sold everything in my dining room and used the money to pay for the custom made table. The 2 leaves that I insert on either end to allow it to seat 14. 6 down each side and 1 on each end. It’s a harvest table made with antique barn board. I’m Canadian so we have our Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October every year. Because I’m Canadian. And not American. But rather, Canadian. So no moving of the holiday necessary. Phew. Done. ~ karen!

  6. Melissa Haight says:

    Is your dollar store Dollorama? I can’t find the stick-on chalkboard paper at any of the ones I’ve checked. I would like to begin my quest for the garbage bags with more location knowledge in hand. Do tell!

    • Karen says:

      Melissa – Yup. Dollarama is my Dollar Store. The chalkboard paper is from last year, and sometimes they rotate what they do and don’t carry. If found it in the craft aisle. Ask the “craft person”. Each aisle at Dollarama has an assigned worker. It could be hidden there and you can’t see it. The garbage bags, however, I haven’t seen there in quite some time. :( The same types of bags can be found at feed stores. Good luck! ~ karen

  7. kelliblue says:

    Ah yes, it wouldn’t be a real holiday without the loss of life or limb somewhere, would it??? ;-) Everything looks gorgeous, Karen, I LOOOVE the non-matchy-matchy plates, the S&P shakers, the feed bags-cum-runners, and the white punkins (are you gonna go for those magazine cover punkins for next year? DIY baby!). Precious! Hope, you, your family and friends had a wonderful time. Me, I’m thankful for great websites like yours. Where I can steal ideas. :) Happy Turkey day!

  8. dana says:

    So very perfect in its imperfection, i.e., mismatched this-and-that. I love the casual elegance. Really, not making that up–here you may have spent who knows how many hours planning the table setting, yet it turns out looking as if you didn’t fuss in order to present such loveliness, you can’t help it, because all of your things are lovely, so you can’t miss. And yet it’s formal. In its artful simplicity. Well done, and officially in the memory bank to inspire me when I set our US Thanksgiving table. Discerning! That’s the word–your discerning eye prompts you to collect only purty things, unlike half the schlock I’ve acquired from 20 years of child rearing. LOVE everything!

    • Karen says:

      LOL! Well, thanks Dana. The funny thing is, I took the photos before the table was even completely set. Oh well. Looked pretty good. I also love my antique dishes. I only use them a few times a year but I JUST love them. They make me feel happy. Should have added them to my list of things I’m thankful for. ~ karen (oh and trust me … I have plenty of crap around too.

  9. Erin Hall {i can craft that} says:

    Hey Karen where did you get your white pumpkins from??? I am DYING for white pumpkins but all my local farmers sell is standard Orange, and I cant afford to go on a fake pumpkin binge.
    Were talking full sized here, not mini gourds

    • Karen says:

      Hi Erin – The fella got the full sized white pumpkins for me at our local grocery store! Cheap too. $2.99 each! My local garden centre also carries them. Keep looking. You should be able to find them, they’re becoming fairly popular. Good luck! ~ karen

  10. Alyson says:

    I agree with you Evalyn…plus my kids are to disgusting to have anything white within 1 foot of them. Ok, I really mean me.

    Karen, are the white pumpkins different from usual on the inside?

  11. Ashley says:

    Karen will you take me in and teach me your beautiful dinner hosting ways? It could be like the Karate Kid. Also, mini hay bales!!

  12. Evalyn says:

    While my jury is still out on painting the pumpkins white (personal issue here: why does everything in the world need to be white? Cheddar cheese, chocolate, pumpkins, the interior decor of entire houses? Why why why? Moving on . . .), the pumpkins will make excellant chicken feed when you are finished with the decor. Of course, you will have to remove the painted rind, whereas if they weren’t painted . . . I think you see where I’m going with this.

    • Karen says:

      Evalyn – I’m not sure why everyone thinks the pumpkins are painted. They’re not. They’re white pumpkins! There are a few on the tabletop that are fake white pumpkins. Other than that … they’re all real. No pumpkin was harmed in the making of this post. ~ karen

  13. Another Karen says:

    Inspiring! I still need to get some pumpkins.

    And decide what color or size I want and whether to carve or decorate them or just keep them au natural.

  14. mimiindublin says:

    Lol re “scrounged chairs”, read it just as I was thinking..everything here is absolutely perfect.!!
    Seriously though, your table is stunning, I love to have 14 or so people round a table.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Mimi in Dublin. You’ll be happy to hear I eventually found chairs. Appropriately enough … some antique coop chairs. ~ karen

  15. SK Farm Girl says:

    The table looks F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!! I love, love, love the mismatched, vintage plates! The plates are so beautiful; like a table art gallery!! I could survive the Nascar racing, the screaming, the pie tainted curtains, but no wine – ARGH!!!! There’s not been one family gathering that I haven’t survived without wine! Sorry folks, but if you knew my family you would recommend a big ol’ bottle of JD!! But I love ’em just the same, besides I’m the nuttiest one of them all!!! A toast to my family – cheers!

  16. Nancy says:

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful “before” pictures with us…you are so lucky to have a family that enjoys being together on holidays..I envy you for that…glad you had a “perfect” day…

  17. Emma says:

    I am immediately Pinning those white pumpkins and mismatched vintage plates. Love, love, love.

  18. Rose campion says:

    Was the pie in the curtains one of the four true pies?

    Your family thanksgiving sounds like the one my family always have. Which is why my husband and myself have started a new tradition of going out for thanksgiving at a restaurant by ourselves.

  19. Dana says:

    Beautiful, Karen! i love Thanksgiving as well, but wish it was a bit cooler here (Florida) to make it seem a bit more holidayish. We have had Thanksgivings where we write what we are thankful for on the white tablecloth, eat too much turkey, drink too much wine and then take photos in the front yard trying to hula hoop. The neighbors thought it was entertaining. Geez.

  20. Jules says:

    Love every little detail…of course! Glad you had a great day- would like to see the barf plate please …:)

  21. Karen this was beautiful! Hope it was a great Thanksgiving for you- I can’t get over your beautiful table!

  22. Tracy says:

    I was buying the “perfect day” bit until you said you forgot to buy wine.

    But seriously, those pics are gorgeous! Nice job!

  23. emily says:

    I just love those pumpkins. The rest sounds like pure hell!

  24. Sue says:

    Wow! Sounds just like home! The electric car was charged for the grandikids, till one fell off… The chicken coop was cleaned out and four eggs ready for finding were placed strategically… Till one got dropped! The turkey was done an hour early…the 8 veggies an hour late and the grandson with the broken jaw who couldn’t eat anything… Ate the most! That was all after the son-in-law from Toronto came in and just about cried because there was no full crusted apple pie… Just lemon merigue, apple caramel crumble, and pumpkin! I made one in between the turkey and the veggies… Hate to see a grown man cry! Happy Thanksgiving Karen!

    • Nicole says:

      Sue, I didn’t know you were supposed to have an egg hunt at Thanksgiving too! Now we have to tell the kids about the Thanksgiving bunny? Or is it the Great Pumpkin… Hmmm. My turkey was also cooked too early and my vegetables too late. Apple caramel crumble, hmmmm! Sounds yummy!

      Karen, I’m so doing your garbage bag idea!!! Love it. And I made a lousy pumpkin pie with canned stuff and a store bought crust, so I bought some pie pumpkins to make the real McCoy with your recipe (still using the store bought crust, though, because otherwise there’s too much cussing when I make my own dough…It’s not very good karma dough.

  25. Rebecca says:

    Beautiful display. I’m coming to Thanksgiving dinner next year!

  26. BTLover2 says:

    So beautiful!

  27. Robyn says:

    Yes, absolutely picture perfect until the guests arrive! Isn’t it great that they all go home though?

  28. brie says:

    fantastic! our thanksgiving abroad went to plan as well – except that most people in attendance were completely confused by the whole ‘giving thanks’ bit…

  29. Jen says:

    All looks lovely….I especially love the fall wreath hung on the coop. Wonder if it concerned the chickens to smell turkey cooking all day? Maybe they gave you some extra eggs that day…:)

  30. Julie shinnick says:

    want to see the plate you gave your nephew…….awwwwww we don’t have thanksgiving here, just christmas nightmares

  31. Lucy says:

    I come from a BIG family, so barfing and race cars and cranberry sauce “accidents” and gravy on the rug/in the hair/on the walls/in the drawers are traditional parts of any family get together. We seem to be missing the Russian lit discussions, though. We’re more into Beavus and Butthead. Too bad all those people had to intrude on your magazine-worthy party setup. Up next — pilgrims in all their US historical glory!!!!

  32. Phoenix says:

    I have been reading your blog for some time and it is the first thing I do every morning before my day starts. Here in sunny South Africa (Cape Town) we do not celebrate Thanksgiving. Very boring lot down here, but I am definately going to borrow some ideas from you for Christmas dinner. Very much like your table runners.
    Thanx for keeping me entertained, giving me a laugh each morning and inspiring me to be as weird as I can possibly be.

  33. Dina says:

    Simply beautiful.

  34. Marti says:

    You know putting that wheat/grain wreath on the chicken coop could be construed as taunting your birds. You are taunting your beloved Cheez Whiz? Really???

    Seriously, love the mis-match on the china plates. Particularly love those red ones.

    I thought I saw what appeared to be paint splash marks on some of the white pumpkins. DIY white pumpkins? (COOL!)

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