Turquoise Talk

Thanksgiving Traditions from my family to yours

By Michelle Dashiell - 11/19/2014 12:00:00 AM

I love Thanksgiving, and for me it is the most relaxing and enjoyable holiday of the year. First, I love to cook and second, I love having a day when you can just hang out at your house, cook and spend time with your family and friends.

I grew up in an Italian household, so needless to say the meal was front and center. You had to start early because you literally ate all day long. I would hear my mother clanking pans as early as 5:00 am on Thanksgiving morning. I would have a burst of energy when I started to smell the butter and herbs being sautéed for the stuffing, and I would get out of bed to help. It would start with the turkey only to morph into all of the traditional Italian foods, ending with pumpkin pie and of course a wide array of Italian cookies, for example Pignoli, Biscotti, Pizelle, Cucidati, Butter cookies, Seed cookies and Anise cookies. Somehow, even though it wasn’t yet Christmas, my mother always managed to sneak in her holiday favorite, the fruit cake. She loved it, we loathed it! Oh did I mention Apple Pie? My father was French and loved having his apple pie warm with a piece of sharp cheddar cheese. Dinner would start around 2:00. Your evening didn’t end until you had a leftover turkey and stuffing sandwich on soft white bread with cranberry sauce. I need a walk just thinking about this!

Today, with my girls Isabel and Anna the morning starts with a light breakfast mainly consisting of fruit and eggs. The televisions are on in every room with the Macy’s Parade viewing. We stuff our bird, and prepare our side dishes, the pies I have made ahead so that I can spend time doing what I really enjoy and that is setting the scene…… and by this I mean all the little things that make you and your friends and family feel the warmth of the holiday. It’s all in the details….Can you hear the excitement in my voice. Have I mentioned that everyone likes to feel special? The holidays are a perfect time to go the extra mile for those you care about all through the year. Here we go, this is the part that I truly love.

First, you need to hang a really great fall wreath on your front door (insert picture here. This will set the stage for all arriving guest. A large lantern with a candle glowing beside the front door will bid them farewell at the end of the evening.

Now the fun really starts. Let’s set the table together! If you love your table and don’t want to cover it up start with a simple linen runner. I would prefer to use one that is neutral in color. If your table is one that you would prefer to cover or you have to use a pad, consider a lovely tablecloth. If you are using a plain white plate, perhaps consider a fall themed dessert or salad plate to set on top for a splash of color. Don’t be afraid to use different top plates, no one said they all should match. White linen napkins are a must. Don’t spend money buying colored napkins. They will eventually get ruined and you will never find a replacement. If you use white, they don’t need to match and you can throw them in the washer with bleach afterwards. Did I mention they have to be ironed? This is how I learned to iron as a child, if you have kids at home. This can be their job!

I don’t have a green thumb and I have always had allergies, so I don’t spend a lot of time around flowers and have trouble having many types in my home, even after they are cut. My approach to centerpieces are extremely simple. I love using clear, small glass containers, round or square. Maybe around 5”X5”. They need to be low so that you can see your family and friends without moving the centerpiece off the table when dinner begins. Depending upon the size of your table you could use 3 to 5 containers. Work in odd numbers it looks and feels better. Then find one single type and color flower and stuff each container. For Thanksgiving you could look for a rust, yellow or wine colored flowers. You can throw in a few sprigs of green if you would like. Another idea for the container is to use a small pumpkin and or acorn squash. Hollow it out and use them for your flowers. Remember the secret is to make sure that you can’t possible fit another flower in the container.

Mix up your candlesticks. Use pewter/silver and crystal. Use different heights and always, use all white tapered candles. Last but not least make your family and friends feel special with a handmade place card. Take a very small petite pumpkin. Cut a small slit on top. Use a piece of white card stock for the name and slide it onto the top where you made the slit. Another idea is a maple leaf that is cut and made out of a colorful piece of cardstock. Lay these in the center of your dessert plate. This is a great job for the younger members of your family and will keep tiny fingers busy and occupied while you are adding the last minute touches to your inviting, warm and relaxing Thanksgiving feast.

Until we Talk Turquoise again!

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