Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thanksgiving tablescape

We are hosting Thanksgiving dinner in eight days, and haven't as much as bought a turkey! Time to spring into action, I think! Fortunately, we will be dividing food assignments between the three families that will be attending at our house, so we won't be doing all the cooking ourselves. But we are responsible for setting the scene for a special holiday meal with the family, so today I am thinking about tablescapes.

You can keep the crystal chandelier, but I'll take the centerpiece, thanks!

Our house isn't exactly the place for starched linens, gleaming silverware and wall to wall formality, so this year I'm toying with the idea of a fairly modern, casual look that still feels festive and special. Last year's table was pretty, but very simple, and I am feeling more like kicking things up a notch or two this year. I feel like a Thanksgiving table should have have some elements of nature to it, and maybe especially a harvest vibe, given the roots and origins of the holiday. Plus, it's often the last chance we have to bring the outside in before winter really kicks in, so why not take advantage while we can?

A slightly more fall-themed version of this, perhaps?

I don't like centerpieces that are so big that they get in the way of conversation (or crowd your eating space), beautiful though they may be! Instead I am thinking of doing something low that goes the entire length of the table, utilizing the empty space in the middle of the dinner table. I like the idea of a long, narrow wooden box filled with pumpkins, leaves and berries, but I don't think I'll get one put together in the next week. Maybe next year?

I'm actually really loving the simple, clean beauty of this table borrowed from Apartment Therapy, even if the tilt shifty focus of this photo is making me slightly seasick. I like the simple white plates against the dark table cloth, and those red berries are just the right accent.

Thank you card as Thanksgiving napkin holder. Pretty clever!

The small details are what really takes a tablescape from something pretty to something really special. I love the simple graphic thank you cards used in lieu of napkin rings pictured above (although I'm not completely digging the idea of having a succulent slapped on my plate). These little rosemary wreaths are really sweet too.

The plate and silverware are too ornate for me, but the place card is spot on. 

Confesh: I love place cards, and think I have saved most of mine from the various formal dinners I have attended over the years. Place cards clearly state that "this is a special occasion", which begins to make it a special occasion. Plus they give you some control over who sits with whom, so grumpy aunt Jean doesn't get stuck between two sticky toddlers, and the newlyweds won't have to risk being separated for the duration of the meal (although that might not be the worst scenario in the world!). I'm kind of digging these gilded pears, but also like the simplicity of the single sprig of wheat pictured above. I'd like combine the look of those with these Rosemary Sprig place cards.

And then you need that something special, the dot over the i, as we say in Norwegian. That one thing that is just the right thing, and that ties everything together just so. The thing that catches people's eye and tells them that they just arrived at a party. Or at least a very special dinner with family and friends, which is nothing to be sneezed at either.

So, those are my thoughts for our Thanksgiving table. Now tell me yours!

(Images borrowed from Common Ground, Daily CandyApartment Therapy, Craft and Couture, Camille Styles and A Beautiful Mess.)


I thought today was a really hard day. I felt really tired, the kids were super uncooperative every time I tried to get them to do anything, I had more errands to run than I actually had time for,  appointments kept popping up, I couldn't put on my comfy pants and curl up on the couch after the kids went to bed because I had a thing to go to. The list goes on. (And I had to make salad for 70 people, you guys!) And I was grumpy.

In the midst of my grumpiness (not helped by discovering that my favorite pair of tights have a giant hole on the heel), I texted back and forth a little bit with a friend and joked about me needing an attitude adjustment. We fantasized about running away from it all and just eating pie on the couch in our comfies. The thought made me smile. 

That smile was like flipping a switch. I looked back on my day, and realized that the things that had felt so hard and so frustrating were actually pretty great. I was tired this morning because I stayed up late snuggling with my husband and watching a few favorite shows. The kids were for the most part super uncooperative because they just wanted to play with each other, and not go run errands. When I had more errands than I knew what to do with, my sweet friend and neighbor offered to run one of them for me. Then she had me and the kids over for lunch. When it was time to go home so Gwen could take a nap, she invited Espen to stay and play for the afternoon, which meant that I even got a few hours to myself. Another sweet neighbor brought me a plate of cookies today. And the salad I had to make for 70 people was for a dinner with the ladies at church. Which in turn meant that all of those ladies got the night off from making dinner, and could sit down to a meal prepared especially for them. How lucky am I to be able to help do that for them? This list goes on too! 

I thought today was a really hard day. But it turns out that the only hardness was within me. When I stopped and looked around, I saw that my day had actually been filled with kind and loving friends, kids who love each other, and a chance to serve others.

Today was a good day. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

To Gwen, now that you are two.

I just tucked you into bed for an early nap before we head off to your two year wellness-check at the doctor's. You were surprisingly willing to go, perhaps worn out by the impressive fit you threw when I wouldn't let you take your Hello Kitty lunchbox inside when we dropped Espen off at school. You know what you want, and you know what you don't want, and nobody knows their own mind like you do!

The more we get to know you, the more sure I am that it is a beautiful mind you've got in there. A mind that loves music and books and dancing. A mind that is always exploring and doesn't miss anything in your surroundings. If something is new or different, you are the first to notice, and if something is not done according to protocol, you will let us know!

You don't just have a beautiful mind, you have also been blessed with good heart. As feisty as you can be, there is a genuine kindness and concern for others in you. If someone is unhappy, you drop everything to run over and declare: "is sad!" before patting them lovingly on whatever part of them you can reach. You weren't very old the first time you climbed onto the naughty step beside Espen to cry with him, even though you weren't the one who was in trouble! You just couldn't bear to see him be sad. You are always happy to give kisses (except when you withhold them to make a point!) and have recently started spontaneously hugging our legs and snuggling close when you feel the need. You always have to hug and kiss Espen at bedtime, and orchestrate Daddy's goodbye kisses in the morning.

You love your family so much! Espen is your best friend, hero and role model. If he does something, there you will be, two steps behind, doing it too. Your biggest source of frustration is when we won't let you do something that Espen can do, like play outside on your own, color with markers, use scissors or play with Espen's Legos. You just cannot fathom why we would do anything so unfair to us, and you let us know how you feel about it too! A lot of the time he will stick up for you and declare "She doesn't want to eat that!" or "Gwen is not tired, she wants to stay up and play with me!" The two of you are so in cahoots with each other that I never know what mischief you're going to come up with next. But when I see you playing and laughing and just being so happy together, I don't mind too much the trail of destruction you leave in your wake. I pray and hope with all my heart that the friendship and closeness you two share will last a lifetime.

As much as you love Espen, it is your Daddy who you really think has really hung the moon and the stars just for you. You ask for him all day long when he's at work, and every time my phone makes a sound you ask "Daddy?" As soon as we hear the garage door open, you race off to meet him with shrieks and squeals of "Daddy! Daaaaaaad!"before flinging yourself into his arms. You are never sadder than when your Daddy tells you you've done something wrong, and never happier than when you get him all to yourself.

And me? Well, I'm your Mama. I'm the source of food and safety and comfort. I'm who you want when you're hurt or sad or scared. I'm who you call for when you wake up in the night, and who you run to to show off your latest creation in playroom couture. I find your babies when they're missing, and know that the episodes of Blue's Clues where Blue is a puppet rather than a cartoon make you cry. You get absolutely furiously angry with me when I stop you from doing whatever death defying stunt you're aiming for next, and yet I'm the one you want comfort from in your rage.

We have fun together, you and me. Even grocery shopping is fun with an enthusiastic little person with a zest for life like you. We head into the clothes section at Target and try on all the hats, laughing and taking pictures. Sometimes I think that people must think I'm a loon, laughing and chatting with my baby, but then I mostly just feel sad for them for not having someone like to shop with. You love going out and about, and take on the world with such great passion and confidence.  I am constantly awed and delighted by the fantastic little person you are turning out to be. Thank you for all that you teach me. Thank you for being you. Thank you for letting me be your mama.

I love you so,


Sunday, November 16, 2014


I sure did get them matching pajamas! So there's that.

Just a super quick, super token post before I crawl into bed so I don't miss another day of NaBloPoMo. We've had a really fun weekend, and now we have another really busy week ahead of us. I have a few posts I'm working on that I'm hoping to share soon (pictures from our Venice trip, maybe a bit about our Christmas card project this year, a bit about Thanksgiving preparations), so hopefully I'll still be able to carve out a little time each day to do that.

Quick question: I get some questions about where I find Gwen's clothes - are any of you interested at all in me putting together an inspiration board type post about little girl clothes?

Is there anything you would like me to write more about? We've got two weeks to go until November is over, people, we can do it if we try!

OK, off to bed: school and grocery shopping and doctor's appointments tomorrow. Things to look forward to!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

Something for the weekend

Snuggling my one year-old before she turns into a two year-old. 

Just flying by with another late night post before the weekend starts in earnest. Our little girl turns two tomorrow, and so our evening has been spent baking cupcakes, putting together a doll's crib and festooning our house with Hello Kitty, and tomorrow will be spent in adoration of the birthday girl - and taking her to the aquarium and out for pizza. I'm looking forward to enjoying a weekend relaxing and having fun with family and friends.

A few things that caught my eye this week:

  • This project made me smile. A woman photoshopped herself into her mother's childhood photos to explore the question of what it would have been like if they grew up together. My mum and I are pretty close, so the idea really appeals to me. 
  • A post about flying from Singapore to New York City in a $23,000 suite. I know I will never ever experience that in person, but holy moly, a girl can dream! The legroom! The ability to actually sleep on a plane!
  • This Christmas ad for Sainsbury's in England made me cry. I've always loved that story from World War 1. 
  • This study shows that kindness and generosity build strong marriages. Lots of studies show lots of things, but I felt like this one made some especially good points, and has given me something to think about. The idea of "bids" and how we respond to them really resonated with me. 
  • Pictures taken from the surface of a comet by a landing probe that has spent the past 10 years traveling to get there. Can you even begin to imagine the planning and foresight that went into pulling this off? Amazing!
  • I want Food by Tom to come to my house and cook that tasty looking food! I promise I'd set a pretty table and only invite people who know how to carry on a great conversation and enjoy a good meal. Also, I'd wear my best dress. 
OK, I'm off to bed. Have a great weekend!


Did you notice I fell off the NaBloPoMo wagon yesterday? Oops! But don't cry for me Argentina, because I had a fun, but busy day with the kids, then put away all screens and devices and spent the night talking to my husband without any distractions. It was good stuff, people. Then we watched three episodes of Modern Family and ate cookies.

However, as good as the real world is, I wanted to hurry back to the blog today to tell you about our adventures in art yesterday. Espen and Gwen were lucky enough to be invited to take part in a Kinderstudio class hosted by Krisanne, one of the brilliant brains behind The Making Table, a new resource for families seeking to incorporate "beauty, art, nature and mindfulness into their daily routines". Yes please!

Looking at leaves with Miss Krisanne.

I was confident that Espen was going to have a great time, because not only does he love getting his little art on, he has also attended classes taught by Krisanne before, and really enjoyed them. Gwen was much more of a wild card. She hasn't really been given as much of an opportunity to "do art" as Espen has, for the simple reason that it's hard to wrangle two budding artists and their materials without making a huge mess (and I do so hate a huge mess). And she has spent much less time in a class setting than Espen, so I really wasn't sure how much she would actually participate.

As it turns out, they both had a great time. They read a storybook with Miss Krisanne and the rest of the class, and talked about the colors of leaves, and then they danced like leaves in the wind. Dance parties have been a thing at our house lately, so both of the kids really got into that part. (You can catch a little video of Gwen dancing here.)

Dancing like leaves. 

After that, the class talked a little bit about Jackson Pollock, and how he liked to dance as he painted. They looked at some of his works, and then Miss Krisanne announced that everyone was going to get to try drip painting like Jackson Pollock. Bear in mind that she teaches this class in her beautiful home, so this was a pretty brave move on her part!

Getting started. 

 We moved into the kitchen where she had an art station set up. Each child was given two leaves that had been spray painted gold, and then there were tubs of different colored paint for the kids to drip onto their leaves. Espen jumped in with both feet and his usual enthusiasm, and before too long, had moved from drip painting to full-on finger painting (which Krisanne assured us Jackson Pollock did from time to time as well). He was just so happy to be there and really getting stuck into his painting, that in the end it just didn't really matter that he was green up to his elbows and had to be carried to the sink to get clean(ish). I need to remember that sometimes the joy the kids find in an activity is worth the giant messes they create, and that most things come out in the wash anyway.

One of Espen's finished leaves. 

While I was hovering over Espen, trying to at least somewhat contain the globs of paint flying in all directions, Gwen was more or less left to her own devices. I was expecting her to be a hot mess by the time we had finished, but was absolutely astounded to discover that my wild and crazy little girl is a very thoughtful, methodical and deliberate little painter! Not a drop of paint landed on her leaf without Gwen specfically wanting it there. And she was so busy painting that it didn't even occur to her to smear paint everywhere. I felt like I was seeing a whole new side of my daughter, which definitely made me want to get out the art supplies a bit more often at home. Gwen is a very, very busy little girl who is constantly on the move, and I loved seeing her discover something that brought her a little stillness.

Gwen's leaves.

 The whole thing lasted less than an hour, and soon we were on our way to grab lunch and get Espen off to preschool. But I am still thinking about the things we all learned and enjoyed, and planning ways to get a little more art and creating into our life at home.

Thanks for having us, Krisanne and The Making Table!