Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, Give Thanks

I love Thanksgiving. Who doesn’t really? It’s a day when most Americans take a break, log off, and reflect on the prior year and the year to come.

Fall Leaves
Fall Leaves

In our family tradition, we always go around the table and say one thing that we are thankful for. Mostly family, friends, food, shelter, love. All good things.

This year I’m also thankful for everyone who has supported this wild dream of mine to become a professional artist. It’s not something I ever contemplated moving out of the “hobby” realm until YOU showed me that I could. So THANK YOU for your encouragement and love.

THANK YOU for buying my art.

THANK YOU for putting me in touch with industry professionals to answer my questions.

THANK YOU for networking with me and on my behalf.

THANK YOU for giving me a chance to create something unique for you.

THANK YOU for taking my business cards and passing them along to your friends and acquaintances and interior decorators. (And let me know if you want more!)

THANK YOU for telling me I can and AM doing it.

And in looking ahead to 2017, let me know what I can do for YOU.

Thank you for everything.



Fall Leaves
Fall Leaves 6×6

Things To Do While Being Unemployed: Cooking and Crafting Experimentation

Yes, I realize that my wedding is a year away, but when it’s cold out, it’s fun to stay inside and do some wedding-related crafts (and cook some wintery meals).  All of the crafts and most of the foodstuff I’m detailing here is my first ever attempt at making them…You get a lot of take-out when both people are working.  Here’s the first wedding project I started (note “started” not yet finished):

ImageBasically I’m using watercolors to paint these gift tags in ombre blue and then I’m going to write guests’ names on them, stamp them with table numbers and use them as escort cards.  Originally I tried to dip them into water mixed with paint, but that just made them soggy and didn’t impart enough color (I probably should have used ink instead of watercolor paint but it was too late, that’s what I had bought).  I moved on to using brushes to paint them, and I like how each is slightly different and looks handmade.

I saw these tissue paper tassel garlands on Instagram and decided that I could make them myself, so I purchased (and scrounged in my gift wrapping box) some tissue paper and Googled how to start.


(Picture from bridalmusings.com and garland made by Confetti System.)

They take a little while and some concentration, but now that I know I can do it, I’m going to buy some more tissue colors to make all sorts of combos.  One trick is to iron the sheets of tissue paper on low heat first so that the tassels don’t have crinkles in them.

IMG_1675Fold the tissue paper in half twice and cut strips leaving about an inch at the top.  Unfold once, cut the paper in half to create two tassels.  Unfold again so that you get this tentacle-looking piece, then start rolling tightly from one end in the middle all the way down the crease.  Once you get it rolled, you’ll have a tightly wound middle part with sprays of paper fanning out on either side.  Pinch the rolled middle part in half and start twisting like a twist tie so the tassel parts come together and you create the top part through which you can thread a string or ribbon.  Gently comb the strips with your fingers so that they fall nicely into tassels.


Then you can thread some sort of wire/thread/string/ribbon through the twisted top.  I tied a loose knot after passing through each loop to keep them spaced equally.  Hang on a window like this, on the mantle, or wherever else might be festive!tissue paper garlands

Here is another Thanksgiving-themed garland I put together.  Full disclosure: this was a cute little crafting kit that my aunt gave me for Hanukkah.  It did take some work in terms of cutting, pasting, creating paper leaves and tying the burlap ribbons into perfect bows.IMG_1440It was super fun.

Making this necklace might not seem totally like a craft, but let me assure you that it took me at least three trips to Michael’s to purchase the correct clasp and clear plastic filament, so I think the effort exuded qualifies this as a legit project.  This peachy faux-pearl necklace was originally on cotton string and belonged to my grandmother Honey.  I was wearing it wrapped a few times around my wrist as a bracelet, when all of a sudden, the string broke and the beads rolled everywhere.  I swear, I didn’t even make any sudden movements – the string just disintegrated.  Coincidentally, this was during Friday night temple services that I was attending for Honey’s yahrzeit (remembrance of the anniversary of her death), and I was wearing it in her honor.  Embarrassingly crawling on my hands and knees to retrieve the errant beads around the pews and people’s legs, I stuffed them in my purse and vowed to restring them to make something wearable once again.  Although I don’t think I got quite all the pearls, it was fun parsing and arranging the ones I had collected in the correct order to remake the choker.IMG_1352

The necklace project got me excited to do more jewelry projects, and over Thanksgiving, I received some costume jewelry that belonged to Honey’s cousin, Janet, including many delicate metal and enamel flower brooches that I’m thinking of making into some sort of shadow box wall art.

In terms of cooking, I’ve been whipping up a storm of cookies and other cold weather treats.  A photo gallery of some of my faves so far:

IMG_0891Make your own pizza creations!

Pumpkin everything:

IMG_0885Pumpkin bread with pumpkin pulp that I roasted, scooped and pureed myself!  Look ma, no cans (of pumpkin puree)!

IMG_0879Roasted pumpkin seeds with butter and a lot of salt 🙂

IMG_1357Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  Okay, this time I had run out of hand-scooped pumpkin and did use the canned stuff.

 IMG_1718Crunchy, flaky, melt in your mouth kale chips (again lots of sea salt).
IMG_1458 IMG_1457My new addiction is oven-roasted tomatoes.  Besides the fact that they take like 6 hours to bake, they are always a tasty addition to lunch and having the oven on all day helps keep me warm!!
I’m chalking up my first attempt at Maryland crab cakes as an overall success: Pro: They tasted authentic with Old Bay; Con: They fell apart because I refused to use mayo and only used half an egg.  Also I used a container of jumbo lump crab meat, so the pieces were pretty large and chunky.  Maybe I should have shredded them up a bit so that they would mix better.
My Hanukkah latkes (potato pancakes) where more cohesive since I used the proper amount of egg:
IMG_1483Grated potatoes and onion
IMG_1488 IMG_1489They were excellent with hot sauce.
I made a traditional chicken soup, even making the broth from scratch with chicken thighs:
Then I made an even better spicy jalapeno chicken soup with quinoa, chicken bits pulled from one of those supermarket roast chickens and chicken broth.  It was quick and easy and what made it click was that you pour the soup out over the quinoa and chicken so that those ingredients don’t get soggy.  And then you can store each part separately, again to prevent the sog.
IMG_1482 I had never roasted a whole garlic head before, but I did for this soup and it was DELICIOUS.  Just cut the top off the head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in tin foil and roast in the oven.  When it’s done, you can gently squeeze the garlic cloves out into the soup.  I then put the broth and roasted garlic in the blender to puree the garlic and mix it in well.  (As an aside, I did two heads of garlic and saved the second one for garlic bread and snacks of garlic and roasted tomatoes on Kashi 7 grain crackers – yum!)IMG_1484 IMG_1485
IMG_1490I threw in some leftover pasta too.  I really loved using a higher ratio of quinoa to soup so that each spoonful was a warm, slightly spicy, slightly nutty quinoa bite and not just straight chicken broth.
In addition to these traditional chocolate chip cookies (super chewy centers with extra crispy edges) (not the first time I’ve made these), I also made gingerbread men cookies (first time for these), which were easier than expected.  I got the hang of it on the second tray in that I rolled the dough a little thinner so they were more crunchy like a ginger snap, rather than bready like a cake.
IMG_1622Choc chip cookies
IMG_1462Prepping the gingerbread men
I also made some spiced walnuts with ginger and brown sugar.
IMG_1475 IMG_1476
IMG_1479 IMG_1480
I am kinda obsessed with biscuits, and while I really do love those Pillsbury-from-a-can-biscuits (there are literally five to six layers you can peel back and put butter between), I wanted to see if I could make them myself.  In this six months of cooking and baking experimentation, I’ve gotten over the fear of doing things directly on the countertop.  I clean it down really well, flour her up, and roll out that dough, whether cookie or biscuit.IMG_1684These were not only flaky but also a little crumbly.  Delicious for breakfast with butter and honey and for dinner with baked breaded chicken and hot sauce.
Yesterday I had a friend over and we each chose a cookie recipe to make.  I chose oatmeal toffee and she chose peanut butter Hershey kiss cookies.  They were both wonderful.  She not only used peanut butter, but also added ground peanuts to the mix which gave them a little salty-roasted taste and an added crunch mixed in with the smoothness of the peanut butter.
kiss cookies
The toffee oatmeal cookies (with a smattering of Heath bar bits in addition to straight toffee bits) turned out soft in the middle with crispy-crumbly edges and texture coming from the chewy oatmeal and semi-melted bits of toffee.  This was also my first experience using coconut oil instead of butter in a 1 to 1 substitution.  Coconut oil is supposedly healthier than butter.  Since I’ve never made these particular cookies with butter, I have no basis for comparison as to whether the coconut oil altered the flavor at all, but they were light and delicious to me.
toffee cookies toffee cookies2
Along the way, I also made some oatmeal, chocolate chip, walnut, dried cranberry cookies.  Those were intense because the “extra” ingredients almost overwhelmed the batter.  They were hard to form into balls for baking but they turned out great.  Almost more of a trail mix snack than a cookie.
prep stationoatmeal batteroatmeal cookies
Those were some of the highlights!  Tonight for NYE, I’m going to try a Vietnamese Shaking Beef recipe from the cookbook written by the chef at The Slanted Door in San Fran, where we originally tried and loved this dish.  I’m off to the Asian grocery store to purchase light and dark soy sauce (I had no idea there were different kinds of soy sauce, but I guess that makes sense), fish sauce, rice vinegar and mirin.  I’m excited to see what other exotic treats I will come across there.  Have a Happy New Year!

NYC Fam, Friends & Food: An Excellent Thanksgiving

Last month when I flew into LaGuardia, it was a crisp fall day, the plane came in low over the Statue of Liberty, up the West Side of Manhattan and banked to the right over to the airport.  From my window seat, the trees looked like burnt siena, fiery red and pumpkin colored cauliflower tops.  This past week when I flew to New York, on a clear Thanksgiving morning, the plane took a southerly approach, and from my left-side seat, I got an eye-level view of the East Side of Manhattan as we crossed over Brooklyn and Queens.  This time, the trees looked like tiny brown matchsticks and the buildings gleamed white as the sun bounced off their unshaded roofs and windows.  As we got lower and lower in the sky, the glaring edifices gave way to a sea of brick, and we quickly touched down in the gentlest landing I’ve experienced in years.

Hailing a cab, we wound our way north, and reached our Upper West Side destination without Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade interference.  We arrived as my sister and her boyfriend were waking up, and I joined them at Starbucks for coffee, while Mark grabbed his first of many weekend slices of pizza from the smells-better-than-it-tastes stand next door.  The day was cold but sunny, and we decided to walk the crowded streets in search of a new winter coat for my sister’s boyfriend.  That was silly of us!  It was Thanksgiving Day – of course everything was closed.  Okay, plan B: let’s go walk in the park.  As we approached Central Park West, we were met by streams of people moving in the opposite direction as the parade route was clearing out, leaving piles of trash in their wake.

trash 1

Again, we weren’t thinking too intently because obviously we couldn’t get across CPW to the park due to the rows of bleachers and police barricades.  We walked down a few blocks until we were able to cut across, stepping over mounds of newspaper and Starbucks cups being swept up by city workers.

trash 2

We wandered through the park, which was jam-packed with like-minded tourists and parade-goers, until we reached Columbus Circle, where we took a warm break inside the mall lobby and watched as these holiday stars changed color beautifully.

columbus circle lights columbus circle lights 2

Thinking it would still be a number of hours before the Thanksgiving meal was served, we thought it best to try to find some authentic New York pizza on our walk home.  Before we got too far up Broadway, I impulsively bought a majorly delicious Nutella crepe (also the the most expensive crepe ever: $5 for plain Nutella!) at a sidewalk cart.  It was hot and gooey and perfectly folded into a triangle for walk-and-eat-ability.  I always appreciate a well-folded crepe.

Not wanting to revisit Mark’s pizza joint from earlier that morning, I quickly Yelped pizza places in the area and picked the best of the bunch: Rigoletto on 72nd street.  The small restaurant was new and clean, with a slate bar and a few beers on tap, and, most importantly, pizzas that looked fresh, not having sat in the case for days and days.  The pepperoni slice I had was a good start to a New York pizza weekend: crunchy crust, but not burnt, hot cheese that didn’t fall off in clumps and just enough sauce to not be overwhelming.  It was my sister’s Texas boyfriend’s first slice of true New York pizza ever!!!  So exciting!


Feeling just full enough, we returned to our aunt and uncle’s apartment in time to hang out and watch football with our cousins and welcome the rest of the family when they arrived: my parents, other aunt and uncle, more cousins all the way from LA!  Moving into the living room for the cocktail hour (signature drink = Dark & Stormy made with ginger beer), the only smudge on an otherwise perfect party was that my aunt who was hosting was quarantined in bed with a stomach bug.  We were so sad she couldn’t join us, but luckily she was having the meal catered and served so she didn’t have to worry about getting the food out to the table, and thankfully she recovered the next day in time for us to spend some time together later in the weekend.  I had such a fun time chatting with the adults and playing with the kids.  I love getting together with everyone, and I always feel let down when it’s time to part ways.

After a delicious traditional turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallow and all the other sides, the kids had to get to bed, and the rest of us tucked into the den to watch the Ravens beat the Steelers (woo woo!!!) before turning into bed ourselves, satisfied and happy.

Friday morning before my sister and her boyfriend headed back to Texas, we went to breakfast with my parents at Fairway Market.  This is a grocery store.  I was so confused when we walked in as to why we were eating breakfast in a grocery store, but upstairs is a small cute restaurant.  I had a buckwheat crepe with brie and spinach in what was turning out to be a pizza and crepe weekend.  I love when savory crepes are made with the traditional Breton buckwheat flour.  Savory crepes should obviously be made with a more savory flour, and I hate when restaurants use the same sweet crepe pancakes for both their sweet and savory crepes.

After breakfast, we relaxed back in the apartment before Mark and I set out that evening to visit a college friend and my cousins in NOHO and NOLITA (let’s just call it Lower Manhattan…East Village?).  Not wanting to take my huge puffy sleeping bag coat that would be a nuisance at a bar later, I took my chances with just a sweater and a pair of gloves.  By the time it was dark it was already so cold that Mark and I had to stop at Bahr Che on our ten minute walk from my friend’s to my cousin’s for a warming glass of wine and an antipasto of finocchiona (had to…wanted to…same thing).  The thinly sliced salami flavored with fennel seeds and served with chunks of warm bread hit the spot.  On to our next destination: my cousin’s apartment.

My cousin just moved into a new apartment, so of course we wanted to check it out and meet his roommate.  The two bedroom was a good size by NYC standards and was a good rest stop before moving on via taxi to Serafina in the Meatpacking District, where we met my other cousin for dinner.  I had a bright and peppery arugula salad and an interesting pizza, which was pretty much a regular cheese pizza with a pesto swirl and sprinkled pine nuts on top.  It was yummy with a chewy, super thin crust and good cheese flavor that was augmented by the fresh pesto.  During dinner, my cousin hawk-eyed Malcolm Gladwell, the famous unassuming author of such critically-acclaimed economics/human behavior books as Blink and The Tipping Point.  Cool!

After dinner we made our way across the street to Bar 675, an underground basement bar with nooks and small libraries carved out of the brick wall, where you can lounge with your eight closest friends and play games such as Jenga and Catchphrase.

bar lightsLuckily we arrived early enough to snag one of these coveted spots, and enjoy a few rounds of Catchphrase before more and more of our cousins friends came to join us.

bar 2Being the elder members of the party, Mark and I made our exit earlier than the others, but I think we hung in there pretty well, as evidenced by one lost glove and an 11:30am wake up time the next day.

Oh the next day…..I wasn’t feeling too great when we made the trek back down to Spring Street to meet one of my best friends from growing up for a lunch of, you guessed it, pizza!  At Rubirosa, Mark and I split a classic pie that was more of a margherita with medallions of fresh mozzarella and a very thin layer of sauce on a stiff but not crunchy crust.  I liked the cozy Italian cafe atmosphere and loved seeing a good friend.

We immediately went back home to relax with my aunt, watch college football (oh Michigan, what a nail-biter) and nap before pulling ourselves together for dinner with some ex-Baltimore friends at Jacob’s Pickles on Amsterdam Ave on the UWS.  It was a perfect pick with wonderful friends – cozy comfort food with amazing homemade pickles, big-as-your-face biscuits and Matzo ball soup.  The biscuits were my favorite part of the meal: crumbly and served with all the fixin’s: super salty butter, maple butter, honey and strawberry preserves.  The kosher dills were also delicious…as were the piping hot battered fried pickles…and to top it all off: a root beer float and crunchy hot fried Oreos!  I would highly recommend this spot for a totally unhealthy but deliciously filling meal.

Unfortunately we had to pull ourselves out of bed at 3:30am to catch our early morning flight on Sunday, but we were happy to be back home and in bed napping by 9:30.

On such a fabulously fun Thanksgiving weekend I am grateful to have the most loving friends and family.  I am also reminded to be thankful for all those people that made our Thanksgiving special…We heard a lot this year about the retail workers who are now having to work on Thanksgiving for the first time, and I agree that this should be one day when the stores stay closed, but let’s not forget about all the others that are also working on this holiday: the people at the airport, the pilots and flight attendants, the taxi drivers, policemen and women, the Starbucks servers, and the trash picker-uppers who are cleaning up all those Starbucks cups.  I hope they got a day off along the way to hang out with their friends and families.

trash sbux

Quick weekend tally:

2 crepes

4 pizza meals (including Mark’s extra slice Thursday morning)

5 friends to catch up with

17 family members at Thanksgiving

4 TUMS needed