Thanksgiving 2016

~Nantucket Island~

TELL A STORY with your tablescape!  It’s creative and fun, and will be an instant conversation piece with your guests! Once you have a theme, the excitement and layering begins!  Give yourself enough time to design it.  Rushing and time restraints promote stress and zap your creative juices. This tablescape took me three hours (with plenty of time to spare!) of adding, deleting and then finally...swooning.  I never think, "oh, I've got to SET the table".  I always think, "Oh, I've got to DESIGN my table".  It's so much more fun.

THE COLOR SCHEME this year was decidedly going to take on a more neutral approach, a deviation from my bold orange design of last year. I waited for the inspiration to come to me. Sure enough, it hit me at the Rooms with a View Decorator Show House in Southport, CT.  My design began with the purchase of two gorgeous ferns in beautiful, natural rolled, birch bark containers, and two large moss balls, I hand-carried on the boat to Nantucket! I supplemented with matching birch bark candle pillars holding tea lights, I found at Flowers on Chestnut, on island. This year, unlike last year, my table linens, in simple ivory, would serve only as a backdrop, not making any statement at all. The same would be true of the china I used, which was my ivory, gold-banded LENOX, from our wedding in 1979, which I love and covet with all my heart! I used tiny kraft name tags at each place setting in small round vases I’ve had for years that house both the flowers/greens and the name tag. I love the natural feel, the color and look of anything kraft.  

These feathered placemats sent me over the edge!

Did you know that until 1918 there had been no American made china in the White House? This upset President Woodrow Wilson, who finally commissioned Lenox to create the first US made china. 

A New York City newspaper reported,“The proud day has arrived when the White House dining service [was] designed by an American artist, made at an American pottery… and decorated by American workmen.”

Since that time, six presidents have commissioned Lenox for their own signature china. 


THE GRAPES in the centerpiece contributed majorly to my design, which was clearly taking an organic turn! To incorporate natural colors, I thought fruits! Yes! Different colors of grapes! I loved the idea of them cascading down a 3-tiered cake stand, but wondered how I would keep them perfectly in place (crashing down on the votives would not be good). I got out my favorite tool of all time, a glue gun, and anchored the heavy part of the stems to the cake stand tiers. I bought a couple of bags of loose moss, which I used to gently nudge (wedge) the grapes to remain where I wanted them! And then, of course added my birds!

Grapes, as a the centerpiece

BIRDS OF A FEATHER  are always part of my holiday designs in some way shape or form. So out came my collection of birds! And then, speaking of feathers, why not use fabulous feather placemats?!  Lion's Paw of Nantucket, I love you!  While we're at it,  let’s add feathers elsewhere, too…. I used 3 inch burlap ribbon for the napkins and inserted an 18 inch single feather into each one. I used the other feathers in a grouping near the moss balls on my sideboard. This really got me excited! This was when I added the gold deer antlers in the fern plants to pick up the trim of the china.  Burlap, fruit, moss, pinecones, ferns, deer antlers, birch bark, birds and feathers!  I think I’m getting somewhere with this, and I think it's a woodland theme!

PUMPKINS always add a lovely autumnal look and feel to Thanksgiving, especially since they are used so much in cooking and baking during the season! I was happy to find little white ones on island, keeping everything in neutral tones. And so it began…. Our Thanksgiving tablescape was on its way to paying homage to the forest and the fruits of the land! Your story becomes pivotal in the design, the colors you choose, and the style you see evolving. Have fun with it! Be whimsical and creative. It sets the tone for FUN before the FUN even begins!

Our Culinary Excursion!
Our Thanksgiving morning was a bit more relaxed this year, as there was no zooming out the door for the 8am 5K race, since our daughter had just run the New York City Marathon! But we were up bright and early and had a nice cozy, breakfast before the traditional ice cold Turkey Plunge!

Corn and Cranberry Pancakes (compliments of my husband, Jim, the pancake genie!)
• Fresh fruit of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries
• Orange Juice
• Mimosas

Traditional Post-Plunge Bloody Mary Party
(my Brother-in-law and Sister-in-law’s home)
• Classic Bloody Marys
• Shrimp Cocktail
• Cheese Platters

Thanksgiving Dinner
• Corn Chowder with Squash & Bacon served in “squash bowls” (pictured)
• Turkey
• Gravy (The gravy fairy visited me this year with a perfectly smooth and tasty gravy!)
• Mashed Potatoes
• Sweet Potatoes with marshmallows (the kids are never giving this up!)
• Brussel Sprouts with bacon and maple syrup
• Oyster Cornbread Stuffing with mushrooms
• Mixed Fruit Stuffing with grapes (of course!), apples and pears
• Carrot Pudding
• Cranberry Citrus Mold (A great presentation)
• Penny's Cranberry Sauce (See recipe on Cranberry Blog in Food & Cocktails)

Corn Chowder with Squash & Bacon served in “squash bowls”

Place card holder and floral vase all in one! 

My favorite of all the birds in my collection

Wait...I'm having a Cinderella deja vu...with this bird and moss green velvet ribbon...


Thanksgiving 2015

~Nantucket Island~

Thanksgiving 2015 brought a much larger crowd to our island home! We arrived on the island to celebrate Thanksgiving with our daughter’s in-law family from Cincinnati, who had never been to Nantucket! Our journey began with a tailgate for thirty at the Yale Harvard game in Connecticut, and continued on up to Massachusetts and out to sea, in all of its fall regalia! The more the merrier for me!

My table this year was a bit more formal than usual. My design and color scheme was based on the gorgeous charcoal, silver and orange Jacquard linens I found at Williams Sonoma in Winter Park, Florida. I just drooled over them.

Antique silver bun warmer. Saint Louis crystal. Ralph Lauren china

Pillared candles perched on walnuts.

Our day begins with a 5k race road race, followed by the Turkey Plunge and followed by the annual "Bloody Mary" party at my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's home. Then we have our soup and once again, meet up for a walk on the beach with the other Lyons family.  So, our dinner is always in the early evening,  a candlelight Thanksgiving dinner after dark, with the fireplaces roaring and lots of wine.

Time to pour the wine...and get this party started!

NOTE TO SELF: RELY ON YOUR INSTINCTS! Try to fall in love with your design way in advance! I found these linens two weeks before the holiday. I was jittery about relying upon on-time, on-island delivery. So I hunted down every store I could physically go to, and was successful in finding what I needed. It was too late to cancel the order… which arrived four days after the holiday! INSTINCTS! Rely on them!  

The first order of events was to put a rush online order in for monogram cocktail napkins!  They are inexpensive and make a big statement. Having fun with the color scheme, I ordered silver raised damask paper napkins with our monogram in burnt orange foil, from my “go-to”, The Stationery Studio. Shop online at

Silver damask cocktail napkins with burnt orange foil monogram.

I decided to get out all of the Christmas silver and get polishing! It was bold, elegant and formal! Different from my usual Thanksgiving themes… My candle design this year, using the same candle holders I used last year, included bright orange pillar candles perched atop large walnuts and placed them between scattered ORANGE PUMPKINS. I brought out silver ice buckets, and vintage silver pieces that included our antique bun warmer, and placed everything around the table as I would a collection. And, of course, I used our autumnal Ralph Lauren china and our Saint Louis “Tommy” patterned crystal.


The colors of the food from our feast, popped with this palette.  Here is my Butternut Squash Soup with apples and bacon.

                                                                                       I loved it! It was a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Nantucket Thanksgiving Table 2014

~Nantucket Island~

There is nothing more beautiful than these words that so eloquently described Nantucket in the off-season.

“Paths of bramble, rose hip and sand. Skitter down a powdery cool dune and fall upon: more than 10 miles of untouched beach. Endless ocean, endless sky, fiery sun peeking over a shockingly broad horizon. Not another mammal in sight. Only piping plovers, which flirt with the Atlantic as it glides in and snaps up twirls of spray and froth.” 
Ted Weesner Special to The Washington Post

The mere thought of Nantucket in November begins to excite me every year around the time of my September birthday. Thanksgiving is the one holiday that is filled with so many of the elements that appeal to my aesthetic senses; family, friends, cozy bathrobes and slippers, hot toddies, fires in the fireplaces, candles burning, glasses of Cabernet and the coming together celebration of kindness. For me, there is no place better to celebrate this holiday than on our beautiful island of Nantucket 30 miles out to sea. where the spirit and enthusiasm of the locals and travelers light up Main Street!  I begin to dream about the idea of decorating, cooking, and entertaining and look forward to arriving on island to prepare. We have an open-door policy, as most islanders do, and welcome a knock on the door from friends and neighbors. Please stop by!

Over the years I have collected many china and dish patterns and sets of colored stemware allowing for the fun exercise of designing a mix and match, or a mis-match, or whatever suits my aesthetic whimsy of just how fabulous can I make it this year? Much of my inspiration over the years has come from the very talented Carolyn Rohem, who has always been my idol. My husband and children have gifted me with every book she has authored. I was always fascinated by the selection of dishes and stemware she has graced so many table settings with over the years. Sheer beauty! At first I assumed that it was all high-end until I began to follow her blogs and took a cue from her helpful shopping hints, realizing that it is all about the art of collecting. Take advantage of sales! It doesn’t have to be expensive to look fabulous!

My collection of stemware hails from everywhere, from the very expensive to the very, very inexpensive! There is the challenge of storing it all! I have purchased from everywhere I could find a deal; flea markets and estate sales, where I’ve found some exciting colored glass, to the very inexpensive, but fun, post-holiday sales at Pottery Barn, where I bought my ginormous collection of red, to maybe favorite and fun, frosted polka dot champagne flutes that I bought at a close-out sale at Pier 1 for a $1.99 each! (I’ve moved them everywhere with me and not a one has ever broken!). My most precious, however, is our, Saint Louis crystal, which we bought in green, my favorite color, and which we've had since 1985.  At first I only brought them out on very special occasions or for small gatherings.  I quickly realized that every day is a special occasion, and thus use them frequently, often pairing them with super-casual elements too.

For Thanksgiving Day, I like to formulate a more elegantly casual table design, different from my Christmas Eve table when I pull out all the silver, pinecones, greenery and satin ribbon I could find! For Thanksgiving 2014, I channeled nature. I used natural elements, feeling an animal and bird vibe! I liked the idea of using rustic branches from our yard, my collection of bird ornaments, natural live berry branches, lots of variegated feathers and some of the pieces from my leopard print Ralph Lauren china. As the kick-off to the holiday season on Nantucket begins the day after Thanksgiving, I always like to incorporate a hint of Christmas on Thanksgiving Day. This year I used lots of live greenery, real cranberries in the bottom of candle globes and red glassware.

For linens, I decided upon no linens other than my leopard print napkins which I used with the wonderful rabbit and hare silver, hand-painted napkin rings given to me by nieces Monica and Amy Lyons. The warm chestnut color of our farm trestle table contributed to the warm color palette.  To enhance the casual feeling of natural elements, I used rattan placemats to receive my natural rattan chargers. The dinnerware I use most frequently for Thanksgiving Day dinner is my vintage set of Ralph Lauren hounds tooth china (purchased in 1984) in black and white with a traditional fox chase hunt scene in the center.

The red jacket of the huntsman and burnished orange and brown of the horse and dogs creates an autumnal scene that combines beautifully with the black and white hounds tooth to receive almost any and all accessories and stemware on any table. I mixed and matched combining rattan charger, hounds tooth dinner plate and a leopard soup bowl. The accessory of red stemware brought holiday color as well as height, and picked up the red jacket of the huntsman. I like height on most of my tables to give drama, but transparent enough so as to not to block anyone’s view. I used high clear candle vases in varying heights with cranberries on the bottom to give a boost of holiday color to the three-inch pillar candles from Pottery Barn I often use. I topped each of them with birds from my collection. For the center of the table, I opted out of flowers and instead ran natural vegetables down the center of the table using different squashes, tiny white pumpkins and pomegranates which gave a natural horn-of-plenty look without the horn. To add to my “animal/bird” theme, I interspersed feathers of varying sizes and colors in and around the vegetable display. We celebrate Thanksgiving dinner after dark and so candlelight for me is the ultimate accessory! Tiny votives topped with frosted glass shades at each place setting created a cozy and warm feel and cast the perfect glow on this wonderful night on our magical island, where we held hands and went around the table giving thanks for all that we have been blessed with.