Thanksgiving Came And Went

november-28-2008-thanksgiving-005It’s over. The big event of the year is done. They came. They ate. They left. I am going to relax for a bit. But before I nod off, would you like to see just a little of it?  ~ There were gifts for the visitors, including these small Gold Crest Monterey Cypress trees in lovely metal pots. Hardy in zones 7-9, we are on the northern edge of being able to grow them, but even as a small houseplant, they add cheer and greenery with a yellow tinge. Growing outside to fifteen feet tall in a conical form with a width of half that, even small gardens could find a spot for one. Found at the grocer’s for $6, a bargain.november-25-2008-023Leaf castings were made late last summer from squash leaves and a single calla leaf to give to the clan also. The mixture is mortar mixed with enough concrete bonding agent to form a thick oatmeal consistency, spread over a face down leaf in a pile of sand to a thickness of 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Allow to dry and set, a few days should do it. Paint to your liking with craft paint and seal with polyurethane. These were a big hit. The little bowl in the upper right was formed with the leftover mix for fun. I am keeping that for it is pitiful.november-28-2008-thanksgiving-008For the place cards this year we chose to make these bread stick dough wreaths as seen in the November issue of Martha Stewart magazine.november-28-2008-thanksgiving-012A package of bread stick dough in a tube of twelve was opened and each stick rolled out to the width of the bread board covered in non stick foil, about twenty two inches long and flattened.november-28-2008-thanksgiving-013Using a pizza cutter, that length was cut into four pieces. It is important to make them of even thickness for easier braiding.november-28-2008-thanksgiving-0091Pinch together the four ends and begin braiding by taking the left piece and going over, under, over the other three strands. Tighten the braid gently as you braid down, keeping the pieces in the center of the board. When you get to the end, squeeze the tips together and make a wreath shape on a parchment lined baking sheet. Follow the heat and cooking time on the package but keep checking so they don’t get too dark.november-28-2008-thanksgiving-0111An embroidery needle was used to make a hole for a name tag to be added after baking. Use the needle as soon as they come out of the oven to remake the hole. Just a note, due to the excessive handling of the dough, rather than light and tender, these wreaths reminded one of beef jerky.  Amazingly some of the clan actually ate them.november-28-2008-thanksgiving-028A favorite activity after the meal is sitting around the fire pit. The men like to stay out there chatting until the wee hours of the night. Firewood and kindling are gathered all year for this one time fire event, stored and dried under the deck. The ashes are spread on the garden plants that benefit from it including rosemary, lavender, lilacs, dianthus and peonies. We will begin saving wood for next year now, a little at a time as branches are cut and scraps from projects are picked up.november-28-2008-thanksgiving-064There is a treasure hunt for the three offspring of the offspring each year. The boys really like to run around on the paths in the garden with list in hand of where to go and find an object to place in their bag. Other years small toys and prizes have been hidden for them, but this year they selected something from each location on their own. Smallest of the boys, little LTB, not LBJ, felt compelled to give us a hug mid hunt. It’s moments like these that make life worth living. Added: this gravel path was inspired by Nan Ondra’s post on Gardening Gone Wild’s design workshop about Paths and Walkways. Click here to read her step by step instructions.november-28-2008-thanksgiving-052-2Compulsory wrestling is another much anticipated part of the fun. Some of us are onlookers only while many jump in for tag team heaps o’ humans, like The Financier. Sheer bulk does overpower nimble energy so far. Yes, that is older brother choking younger brother, as per usual.november-28-2008-thanksgiving-091-2The official family portrait, this time with the Canon since no one else remembered their cameras, using the newly discovered self timer by reading the owner’s manual, was taken out in the garden. After several takes, the clan was asked to turn with their backsides to the camera for a photo for the blog. Snide remarks were uttered by a couple of people about the absurdity of this pose, but some got into the spirit by covering their backsides, not realizing that this draws attention to rather than covers that area.  Back row from left, Mr. Semi, Mr. Chickenpoet, The Financier.  Second row from left, Brokenbeat, Mrs. Brokenbeat, Aunt Lynn, Chickenpoet, Semi, Gardoctor.  Front row, me, GA (Chickenpoet’s), LTB (Semi’s), MA, (Chickenpoet’s) with the wad of his beloved yellow (at one time) knitted baby blanket.  Aren’t they an attractive group?!  We do love them all.
We hope to return to regular garden programming soon.

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30 Responses to Thanksgiving Came And Went

  1. gittan says:

    Hi Frances, it seems as if you have had a great Thanks giving. It was very interesting to read about how you selebrate it sins it’s a tradition we haven’t got in sweden. So beautiful leaves you have made, I understand why the clan liked them.

    Hi Gittan, thanks for visiting, we did have an enjoyable time. Not everyone does the same things but most in the US have a big family meal with turkey, stuffing, gravy and vegetable side dishes. We have begun some traditions in our group like the treasure hunt and firepit that the family all look forward to. The leaves were fun to make and can be left outside all year in the garden too.

    I could not read your latest post, but it looks like it was about shopping?

  2. Brenda Kula says:

    Oh, little bowl not pitiful! Pretty little bowl. Would be so nice with acorns in it, Frances! I love your gravel pathways. I have gravel pathways, but love how you broke the constancy up with wood. You are such an inspiration to me!

    Hi Brenda, thanks, but that idea originated with Nan Ondra in the design workshops for paths and walkways. The path is steep in some places and the gravel just rolls down the hill. The six by six posts were left over from the arbor, some of them, we did have to buy more. They end up being not quite steps, a wheelbarrow can still go over them, but I love the look. Check out the Gardening Gone Wild post, I’ll look for a link and come back and insert it. Here it is. Gail had brought me burr oak acorns when she visited, how perfect, thanks for the idea!

  3. Gail says:

    Frances, A wonderful time was obviously had by all! Love the treats….you are creative, I can’t believe, yes I can;-) how neatly and evenly you’ve braided. What a marvelous tradition you and your family have for celebrating Thanksgiving. It’s times like this that I wish we had a larger family! A party of three is very quiet! Warmest thoughts on this rainy day, I hope it’s rainy on your side of the mountain! Gail

    Hi Gail, thanks so much. Well I did only show the best braid job. 🙂 The clan does enjoy coming at Thanksgiving. Not as stressful as Christmas with the decorating and gifts, just food and fun and sometimes the weather cooperates as it did this year. I do believe your family is going to grow! It is raining nicely today, although I would love to be out in the garden, we need the rain. A good day to plan for next year’s garden.

  4. Joy says:

    Frances .. this was lovely to read and see how you spend this holiday with your family. My favorite part is the fire pit .. I would love to spend time around something like that and of course .. roasting .. marshmallows !!
    All the crafting is wonderful .. love the little trees .. we saw them as adults in European gardens .. they are beautiful.
    The gravel pathways .. also remind me of Europe .. pea stone gravel every where and I loved the look and the sound.
    I would be laughing so much at the time of the portrait , I’d be down on the ground in fits of laughing .. so this group did GOOD !
    Great post !

    Hi Joy, thanks so much. We normally do roast marshmallows, someone forgot to buy them because they may have been taking pictures for the blog! It was mentioned too. I love the gravel paths, but should have gotten pea gravel instead of this cheaper mixture of sizes. Next garden, I will splurge on the pea gravel for all the paths. I might have to go get myself one of those trees too, but think they might look better in groups of three or more. HA That photo was the last one taken, they all were laughing at me running down the deck ramp and getting into the photo at the last minute, there are big smiles in every shot, we have to do several to get everyone looking good at one time. 🙂

  5. Racquel says:

    Looks like you had a wonderful time with your family. The leaf castings & potted trees were nice take home treasures. Love the family portrait, lol. You are a hoot Frances as always. 😉

    Hi Racquel, thanks. We did have a grand time and the weather was good to us too. My family does put up with my shenanigans, put I take a lot of ribbing for it. All good natured of course.

  6. greenwalks says:

    Wow, you really put a lot of work into Thanksgiving! I have never hosted, only been a guest, but I try to bring whatever is requested and toss in a bouquet of flowers or a potted plant to boot. Love the painted leaves and quadruple-braided placecards holders. Also the reverse view of the family! 🙂 Looks like you all had a grand day.

    Hi Karen,thanks. I do work hard for this one, attendance is mandatory for the clan. Christmas is usually on the road with us visiting them, not always all together at one time either. Sometimes they bring things, but usually I have it covered. We did get a great tiramisu from Mrs. Brokenbeat that was superb! You are a good guest to follow instructions. 🙂

  7. chuck b. says:

    By Monterey Cypress, do you mean Cupressus macrocarpa? That’s one I would like to add to my potted plant collection. That’s pretty funny your family cooperated with the family portrait by turning around for you. But why not just face the camera? What is there to be afraid of?

    Hi Chuck, the tags went with the plants, but I looked it up on google and it was grown in CA. They are selling them here in the grocer’s and Lowe’s as mini Christmas trees, along with rosemary trimmed to a cone shape. They have a more gold cast than the photo shows and would look great in your garden. My family is used to me bossing them around, for I am the wacky matriarch! 🙂 We did take several face shots, but I like this view, adds a little mystery, don’t you think?

  8. Hi Frances how wonderful, but I bet you are exhausted now! Take now some time relax and look after yourself. LOL Tyra

    Hi Tyra, thanks, I am tired but happy. Lots of laundry and dish washing to do after that many people come, but I do love having them. It is raining today, a good day to blog. 🙂

  9. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    It is obvious that a good time was had by all. Your specially hand made gifts are adorable. So glad to hear all were well and happy.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for that. We all are enjoying good health for the most part, knock on wood! Your whooping crane sighting was such a thrill, thanks for sharing it.

  10. OH my goodness you do celebrate in such a lovely way! It reminds me that I need to instill a little more tradition into our holidays and may a little less football and food, lol! You are an inspritation, thanks, Kim

    Hi Kim, thanks so much. There is actually plenty of food and football too, LOL, but why show that on the blog? Traditions are good things, though, and we have been making our own for the last few years since we moved back to TN and the offspring have married. This is the holiday that I staked a claim on, Christmas is for the inlaws, deciding it would cause the least issues. Glad to offer a few ideas.

  11. joey says:

    I must say, you have much to be thankful for, dear Frances. Judging your photos, your day could not have been lovelier … you thought of everything, no wonder your beautiful family surrounds you! (love that you also hide goodies in the garden as I do … often fossils … the grandboys think Mimi’s garden is awesome). Though family photos are never posted on my site, please know my family is stunning! My children joke since I once told a phone solicitor, “Thanks for calling for the free photo offer and I’d love to accept your kind offer but our family is never photographed … we’re too homely!”

    Hi Joey, you are so sweet, thanks. I am very lucky and thankful for the family and our time together, it is precious beyond all. Mimi, I am GG! HA That is funny about the phone solicitor. We did take advantage of some of those offers when the kids were younger, in the days before digital cameras, and have some beautiful photos of them. Fossils…. a great idea, thanks!

  12. tina says:

    Ha! You are so funny! Looks like a great time for all. I copied the leaf casting recipe. Those are beautiful!

    Hi Tina, thanks, we did have a wonderful time. Good deal for the leaf casting, it is similar to your markers. Keep it on the dry side but mix well. If it gets too wet, wait a while for it to dry out. You don’t want it runny. Good luck!

  13. Dave says:

    You had some great ideas for take home presents! The leaf castings are real nice and the squash leaves are a perfect choice. I may have to give that a try next year. The fire sure looks toasty!

    Hi Dave, thanks, they were well received. The squash leaves were the largest leaves in the garden this year and had the best veining and shape and there were plenty of them too. The fire was enjoyed too, for it was a little chilly.

  14. eliz says:

    Those are superb leaf castings and here I was thinking of giving up because I had heard of others troubles with it. Hmm. I bet I’d still fail.
    Let’s see the front sides next year!

    Hi Elizabeth, thanks. The leaf castings are very easy, much more so than the hypertufa. Just be sure to let it set all the way, err on the side of overdry before trying to lift them and peel the leaves off. Most recipes just use water or a water/bonding agent mix. Using all bonding agent makes them much stronger. Remember the little engine, I think I can….

  15. Amy says:

    What fun! I really enjoyed these photos of your celebrations. Your leaf casts are wonderful!

    Hi Amy, thanks. I’m so glad you enjoyed them, kind of not a gardening topic, but timely anyway! 🙂 The leaf castings were very popular and fun to make.

  16. What a fun Thanksgiving you had. I’d hoped to do a few little “crafty” things, but people couldn’t stay long enough. Oh, well. 🙂

    I made a lot of leaf castings last Summer… I need to experiment a little more with the “mix,” as some turned out better than others.
    Funny photo!! 🙂

    Hi Shady, thanks, we did have fun. Our group always spends at least one night, so we have time to get caught up and they can visit with each other, something they enjoy very much. I am always so busy that my time with them is not enough! On the leaf castings, using straight bonding agent and keeping it as dry as possible but still well mixed is key. If it gets too wet, let is dry a bit, stirring until it holds a shape when rolled into a ball, that is my test. Also, you can use the three parts sand to one part portland cement, but the premixed mortar is easier and no measuring. I only make small batches so it doesn’t dry out before I can get the leaf covered, easy to make a little more.

  17. Cindy says:

    Happy Belated Thanksgiving to you Frances! It looks like you had a fabulous time and I enjoyed reading of your special touches and your treasure hunt. We did one for my nephew (he’s 4). My husband and I drew the map so it was as much fun for us as it was for him.

    Hi Cindy, thanks and same to you and yours. That is a great idea about the map. Next year I will have to try it. And not spend so much time blogging that I nearly forget about the whole thing! 🙂

  18. commonweeder says:

    What a wonderful day, perfect for a wonderful family. We are at the stage where we go to the younger generation, and this year I learned that even moments in front of the football game can be memorable. Our NYC (step) grandson, age 40, who hasn’t been to the End of the Road in about 25 years mused about the brilliance of the night skies, and the time he and his brother sneaked out after everyone was asleep to walk in the pasture under the stars a among the heifers. You never know what kids will remember.

    Hi Pat, thanks so much. That is a great story. My own kids come up with memories of houses and times past that I never knew about, much less remember. Some of them I don’t want to know! HA

  19. Violet says:

    Wow, those leaf castings are stunning! This has certainly given me huge interest to try some of my own next year, as I have never done anything like it before. Not to mention the hypertufa part, where I already had issues with excessive salivation.Btw, I adore Goldcrest Cypresses. Far underestimated around here,they are hard to find, and they are usually sold at this time of year, but you can also get them for cheap compared to other evergeeens, I planted one 5 years ago and it had a bit of rough times dealing with naughty winters (and dog piss 😉 but has now outgrown me and overcome all of its troubles. Stunning evergreen by all means.

    Loved the photos of your celebrations. You’ve earned some rest now…

    Hi Violet, thanks. You should try the leaf castings, they are much easier than the hypertufa, a good place to start having fun with concrete! I am thinking about going back to the store to get one of those cypresses for myself, even though there really is not room for it, something else would have to go, I like that yours is a survivor of such indignities. 🙂

  20. Marnie says:

    Great post Frances. I just love your leaf casts! Another thing I want to try.

    Hi Marnie, thanks. Do try these, they are easy and lots of fun, much faster gratification than the hypertufa! 🙂

  21. Pam/Digging says:

    I’m enjoying reading about everyone’s Thanksgiving traditions. Yours sounds as delightful as Steve Silk’s, my other favorite so far. I think being outdoors so much is what clinches it for me. You all seem to have had a great time.

    Hi Pam, thanks, it is fun to see how other’s do it. I noticed that Steve Silk had a huge crowd of people and a giant bonfire, we are much smaller in size and our fire has maintained those proportions. Other years we have been outside with no coats even, but it was a little cool this time around. But today we had an ice storm! 😦

  22. Thanks for sharing a bit of your Thanksgiving Day. We don’t celebrate it over here, more’s the pity. That last pic cracked me up, makes a nice change from the ordinary family pics!

    Hi YE, thanks for stopping by and joining in our family celebration since you don’t have this particular holiday. Glad you liked the family photo, a nice change, as you say. 🙂

  23. mothernaturesgarden says:

    You are so creative and make everything so fun. I wish there was a way to burn all these leaves without starting a forest fire.

    Hi Donna, what a nice thing to say, thanks so much. I think burning the leaves is a no no anymore, but we did it when I was a kid, everyone did. We even burned our fence down when we left the fire smouldering and went for a hamburger! Lucky it only burned the fence, we came back and there were fire trucks all up and down our street! Yikes! And yes, we did get in trouble. 🙂

  24. Kathleen says:

    How on earth did you get all this done AND sneak out to photograph the garden?! Count on Martha to come up with bread braid napkin rings. Very clever & I missed it in the magazine. egads. Yours turned out great. I want to join the clan ~ I’d be excited about the leaf plate (beautiful) and the cypress tree but not so much would I want my backside in the photo!! 😉 Glad you had a good holiday Frances. Now rest up so you can decorate for Christmas!

    Hi Kathleen, HA and thanks, I did use your recipe for the chocolate pumpkin cheesecake, but made a pie with chocolate ready made pie crust. It was great and very popular with the clan. Come on and join us! We are very inclusive. 🙂 I had made the leaf castings during the summer, but dawdled a bit on the painting, due to blogging, and just got them done and sealed in time. I try and make one new thing from the Martha magazine each year and that one fit the bill, they just didn’t taste so good, but looked lovely on each plate with a fabric leaf name tag attached. We could put you in the middle row where your backside would be hidden! And I am not ready to think about Christmas yet.

  25. Frances that is the finest colection of derrieres I have seen in one spot in quite some time. You should be proud.

    HA Christopher, thanks. Is that what we call in the south showing your ***? Pretty funny, and of course I am beaming with pride. 🙂

  26. Kathleen says:

    hee hee, the middle row would be a great place for me! I’m glad you enjoyed the choc pumpkin cheesecake. I’m impressed you take on all the projects you do. I usually have good intentions but don’t always get them done.

    Hi Kathleen, thanks, and thank you for posting that recipe, it was delicious and something different. No one even mentioned that there was no pumpkin pie! To be honest, I usually do more projects at Thanksgiving, but blogging cut those down to just a few, it was noticed too. I am pretty energetic, read hyper, and like to be busy. Blogging is perfect for me, but takes time away from the things that used to be done pre-blogging.

  27. Siria says:

    Hi Frances! WOW…looks like you and your clan had a fabulous Thanksgiving. I am more convinced now than ever that you really do not ever sleep. I love all your special touches to all the things you do. Your family is lucky to have you as their matriarch. Memories in the making for sure! Love the family portrait too!!!

    I must try those leaf castings. They were beautiful and must be fun to make. I bet I will have to make many to get a few good ones though. Do they take a long time to dry?

    Hi Siria, thanks, we did all have a great holiday together. I am very protective of my sleep, don’t worry about me getting enough, LOL. The leaf castings are fun, in summer they take two or three days to dry if it is not raining. I keep them under the deck for several days before trying to peel the leaf from the larger ones, just to be on the safe side. Some instructions say they will dry overnight. Choosing leaves with strong veining makes them more interesting, I think. The squash leaves were perfect and I had so many of them, it didn’t harm the plant to pick them. Do give them a try!

  28. Rose says:

    What a lovely family you have, Frances! I’m sure they’re even more attractive from a frontal view:)
    I love your leaf castings–I might try that myself some time. And I’m envious of those cypress tree gifts you gave–what a bargain!

    Hi Rose, thanks, they are a good looking group, but I thought the back view would be fun. Do try the leaf castings, they are easy and very durable outside all year too. I think I should go get myself one of those trees. 🙂

  29. Monica says:

    Love the leaf molds; my mom has made similar creations out of glazed clay (she’s a potter). Also love the beads in the background of the first photo. Did you make those? And, ah yes, wrestling. I forgot all about that, since it’s been eons since my niece and nephew were little (they’re 23 and 20).

    Hi Monica, thanks so much. I’ll bet your mom’s creations were wonderful, so much more delicate. The good thing about the concrete with the bonding agent, glue really, is that they can withstand the frost and thaw cycle outdoors without cracking or breaking apart. I have several that have been out for five years or more. They can still break if you drop them, but just the weather will not harm them. The beads are just plastic, they look like glass, don’t they!, from bags of mixed colors at Walmart strung on waxed linen thread, also from Walmart, found in the jewelry making section of the crafts department. The strings are then tied onto a curtain rod. They look pretty when the light shines through them and perfect for the kitchen. Mine need washed, the bathtub ought to be a good place, just soak them in some dish liquid and rinse and let dry. Those kids so grow up so fast. 🙂

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