There's no better celebration of any season than the decorated tree adorned with the rich symbolism of nature—my ritual to inform and inspire you in the journey called life.

Friday, November 23, 2012

giving thanks

HARVEST FESTIVALS like Thanksgiving are a chance to celebrate the abundance of Mother Earth, if not the universe. A large bird, such as a turkey can feed a number of people along with all the trimmings of this celebratory and traditional meal, which is most likely why the turkey became so popular for Thanksgiving. Some experts think the first American Thanksgiving dinner was served by the Pilgrims in 1621. Others credit the settlers of Virginia's Jamestown with celebrating the first Thanksgiving as their version of England's ancient Harvest Home Festival (also called Ingathering). Whether or not turkey was served as part of the first Thanksgiving meal, nobody knows for sure.

GREETING YOUR GUESTS at the dinner table with an ornament at their place setting will serve as an heirloom reminder of the meal for years to come. Even if it's not a turkey ornament, one that has a special significance for the season, in general or your guest, in particular is a welcoming gift. A small burlap bag is an attractive nest to coddle the ornament and once inside it, doubles as a perfect way for your guests to carry their new treasure home safely.

A SUMPTUOUS meal is a tried-and-true way of thanking the important people in your life for being a part of your journey. Gather friends and family alike for this important celebration. If you can't go home to be with your birth family, there are always a few friends that also can't go home and they will welcome the chance to celebrate the holiday. That's what friends are for. Give thanks to them.

PROPER SETTING | A place setting with a surprise ornament such as this turkey is sure to be the start of a memorable meal. This beautiful antiqued mercury glass vintage-inspired collectible is made by KD Vintage. Starburst plate by Isaac Mizrahi for Target (past season).

ORNAMENT BOUNTY | Any unique ornament could fit the bill. It doesn't have to be a turkey. Just make sure it says something about your guest or evokes the autumnal celebration. It's important that you choose with the particular person in mind as a uniquely personal way to thank them. Feather dessert plate by Patch NYC at Target.
FAMILY PATINA | Nothing says tradition and heritage better than using something that is meaningful to you as a part of the meal. Letting your guests know about these symbolic gestures makes them resonant. I can't think of a better way to represent your personal family history than to use your parents old silver-plate like I have here. I've always loved the pattern my parents chose when they were married on December 23, 1941. Although not fine, this timeworn silverplate is one of my few cherished inheritances from them. I don't like to completely shine it to perfection, as I think the patina of a slight tarnish is quite beautiful. The pattern is Grenoble Silverplate by Onieda (1938).
PROPER FEAST | If you don't fuss over many meals during the year, Thanksgiving is the time to do it. Devin and I invited only a couple of friends over this year (Devin did most of the cooking and I set the table and ran back and forth to the grocery for items we needed). We cooked from scratch two turkey breasts, green beans, scalloped sweet potatoes, stuffing and bought fresh cranberry/orange relish from Trader Joes and rolls from Publix. For dessert we had apple pie with a cheddar cheese crust and a traditional pumpkin pie, both with freshly (slightly-sweetened) whipped cream. After our meal, we brought in the Christmas season by watching the 1954 movie, White Christmas, a musical starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, always marveling at Vera's insanely tiny waist and incredible dancing ability. This was much more fun than falling for the crazier-than-ever antics surrounding Black Friday. There's still plenty of time to shop before Christmas. More thoughtful and unique gifts usually always come from small local businesses.

collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland
food by Devin Borden

Monday, November 5, 2012

Matthew Mead's Holiday

THE BEST THING about the holidays is good company. It's that most wonderful time of the year when we make it a point to decorate our homes, bake cakes and cookies and celebrate merrily. Matthew Mead and I found good company in each other and he has gifted me this year with an 8-page feature in both issues of this season's Matthew Mead's Holiday magazine and expanded bookazine.

In the spirit of the season, Matthew is offering two bookazines for The Decorated Tree to give away! All you have to do is like The Decorated Tree Facebook page. If you've already liked my Facebook page, let me know you've also visited Matthew's site by leaving a comment in the comments section of this post. I will have a drawing to announce the two lucky winners on November 22nd (Thanksgiving day).

SINCE THIS BLOG called The Decorated Tree was begun on August 17, 2009, it has fast become less of a hobby and more of a creative pursuit. This is my 88th blog post, but it announces my first magazine article. I've designed hundreds of magazine articles over the course of my career, but never have been the subject of one! It's truly incredible to be in such good company in the pages of Matthew Mead's Holiday!

THIS IS JUST A TEASER of much more to be found in the sumptuous pages of this year's edition of Matthew Mead's Holiday. And The Decorated Tree is elated to be a part of it!

THE DECORATED TREE | The opening spread of The Decorated Tree's article featuring trees from several of my blog posts including the two you see here from Winter Wish (above, also) and a closeup of the cover tree photo from my book The Decorated Tree.
COOL, CALM, & COLLECTED | Hostess Sally McElroy offers a full holiday menu with a sweet ending of Double Chocolate Cookies and Perfect Chocolate Ganache—two ways.

GIFTS FROM NATURE | Matthew Mead and his wife Jenny open their home in the pages of the magazine—a beautifully pared-back elegance ushers in the holiday season.
HOLIDAY COOKIES | These cookies get royal treatment in the pages of Matthew Mead's Holiday. The recipe for Cardomom-Black Pepper Trees with Juniper Icing is worth the price alone of the expanded 256-page edition! If you have no other cookie this season, this is the one! But there are at least 20-more cookie recipes to choose from! 
CHRISTMAS PRESENT | Executive Editor Linda McDonald opens her doors of her holiday home to share her approach to celebrating simply. Delicious cakes, cake bites, trifles and such are their celebratory foods for the season.
WINTER WREATHS | Wrapped in tradition, Matthew's enduring wreath story presents eight ideas for making your own to last through the season.

The Decorated Tree collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland,
magazine spread photos and styling by Matthew Mead.