A Thanksgiving Table Inspired by Goldenrod

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey
I’m wearing the Everyday Beautiful A-Line Apron Wrap Skirt from Yum Yum Smile Shop

There’s no denying that this Thanksgiving is different, but to me it feels more authentic. Giving thanks for the blessings we have in our lives without the worry of who’s bringing what to put on the table (note: never let your sister be in charge of the mashed potatoes). This year is about a meal shared with my immediate family and a couple of equally minded “safe” friends. We have only spent time in the presence of each other for months and months, so I wanted to take us to a different place -to have a special happy memory of  Thanksgiving 2020. If you follow me on instagram you’ll know there’s a majestic spot just a few miles south of our home where quail thrive among the tall grasses and a certain crusty bird dog works hard to find them. This time of year, the goldenrod is prolific and stunning and the happiest shade of mustard yellow in this perfect spot -it served as my inspiration.

This Thanksgiving, on a mowed path surrounded by tall grasses and mustard medicinal weeds, this family of 8 will share a delicious meal, give thanks for how fortunate we are and raise a glass to those that others have lost.

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Love is in the details…
Table Linens: Floral flat sheets lay over two simple work tables and then topped by yardage of mustard colored linen fabric. Finally, 4 table runners were sewn from storied scraps of fabric into a patchwork pattern and were draped over the width of the table top. Two people sitting across from each other at the table shared one runner.
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Place Settings -Dishware, Flatware and Napkins: To continue with the homespun chic feel of this table, I chose to use mix and match vintage and antique china along with a mismatch of antique silver flatware. The patterns on the china worked beautifully against the patchwork quilt and added even more layers of storytelling. With all the busyness of the runner and china I knew I wanted to use a more subdued yet organic napkin. I chose the natural colored linen pulled from the Agen napkin set from Yum Yum Smile Shop.
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Place Cards: Thick card stock printed with the names of each guest were cut into small ribbon like pieces. A hole was punched at the end of each piece and a small strand
of green twine was threaded through the hole and tied to a boutineer-sized bundle of goldenrod.
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Flowers and Vases: I’m a believer of using what grows around you any chance you can. Naturally, it saves on cost, but more importantly it brings the season to the table. This time of year in Coastal Georgia, goldenrod is prolific. I let it and my new Mustard Colored A-line Apron Wrap Skirt inform the color pops! For vases, I mixed a tin can craft (new diy blog post to follow) with my collection of old mustard tins and biscuit tins. Mixing the two, I ran them down the middle of the table among the place settings and then filled with low bunches of the beautiful goldenrod.
Fun Fact: Goldenrod does NOT cause seasonal allergies. Some confuse it with ragweed which is a real problem. You would never want to sit a table with any wild floral that could potentially light a guest up!
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I hope my take on Thanksgiving gives you inspiration to create something a little different this year -a table layered with stories and surrounded by love.
Happy Thanksgiving!

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She Wanted a Beetlejuice-inspired Birthday Party

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey 

A small group of friends from all over the United States gathered together in Savannah, GA for a Beetlejuice themed birthday celebration. The client/guest of honor contacted me to design the dinner table at a boutique hotel where the event would be taking place. When I spoke with the client about the party, her only direction was “You do you. I’m looking for a Libbie Summers take on the dinner scene in the movie”.  When I pushed her further, she mentioned how funny Wynona Ryder’s character, Lydia Deetz, was when she was wearing black lace over her face…and THAT nugget is where the ideation for the table design began.

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For Cocktails: Guests arrived for specialty cocktails in the downstairs lounge of the hotel where they opened an antique dictionary the size of Montana to choose their drink. Prayer candles ran down the bar to add just the right amount of light (see craft below).
For Dinner: Guests walked through draped black lace to enter the space.
The table was layered with a rich grey velvet and then topped with black lace.
Antique silver candle sticks ran down the middle of the table while lace covered led lights were dimly lit overhead.
Fruit and vegetables painted black were wrapped around the candle sticks as beetles peeked around the corners when guests weren’t looking.
Dark grey linens from the Yum Yum Smile Shop were at each place setting with a simply printed menu card.
Facing each guest…propped on a vintage book was a floral head draped in black lace. (NOTE: Staff removed heads before dinner service began and placed them against the wall behind each chair…again creepy cool.)

Craft Takeaways: 
1. Freaky Chic Florals: At each place setting and as the floral element, styrofoam heads were decoupaged with cut up prints of Dutch still life paintings. The day of the party, humble florals (there was a budget here) were pinned into the heads as hairstyles. Some heads were lit with small twinkle lights among the flowers. Finally, black lace was draped over each head before guests arrived.
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2. Beetlejuice Character Prayer Candles: Inexpensive prayer candles were used to make these fun character candles for the cocktail portion of this party. Labels were soaked off the original candles (found in the grocery story at $1.50 each) in hot water and characters from the movie were printed out on regular printer paper and decoupaged using Modge Podge onto the outside of the candles. Make sure to coat the entire candle, even the parts that don’t have the picture on them.
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She said “This party was EVERYTHING. It was a better party than my first wedding.”
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Animal Cookie Party Favors

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong (as seen in Country Living Magazine, May 2020)

I like to send off guests at the end of a party with something whimsical, delicious and homemade. Usually the delicousness is found inside a tin and it’s always worthy of a smile. These cheeky and nostalgic animal cookies were packed inside decorated Altoids tins. Perfect for holding 4 small cookies and a note. PRO TIP: Make sure to soak the tins in a cleaning solution first or your cookies will taste and smell like Peppermint…or wintergreen.

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The Only Sugar Cookie Recipe You Will Ever Need
(makes 3-9 dozen cookies depending on the cutter size)

What you need: 
3 cups all-purpose flour (more for bench flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (softened)
1 cup sugar (I use vanilla sugar)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (can substitute 1/4 teaspoon bubblegum extract)
Sprinkles (optional for dough)
Royal Icing (recipe to follow)
Nonpareil sprinkle mix for decorating (I used a mix of pastel colored nonpareils, you only need about 3 tablespoons total)

What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and extracts.
4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. The dough may be stiff…this is okay! PRO TIP: at this point you can stir in 2-3 tablespoons of sprinkles to your dough.
5. Do not chill the dough, just get right into it! Lightly flour a work surface and cut off enough dough to be workable. Roll out to a 1/4-inch thickness and cut shapes with your cookie cutters. Place on the prepared baking trays and bake for 6-8 minutes.
6. Allow to cool completely before frosting and decorating.

Royal Frosting
(makes 3 cups)

What you need: 
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoons powdered egg whites (or meringue powder)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Food coloring (optional)

What to do:
In a large bowl, stir together sugar, water and meringue powder until completely mixed. Adjust as needed for consistency. Add a bit more water if too thick and a bit more powdered sugar if too thin. Tint with food coloring if desired. Cover until read to use.
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Gift Tins
1. Thoroughly wash and soak tins (if you are upcycling an old Altoid’s tin) to get the minty smell out.
2. Cut 2 pieces of scrap paper or paper napkins the size of the lid.
3. Using Rubber Cement or Modge Podge, glue the pieces of paper to the outside and inside lid.
4. Trim edge with any fun trim. I used a wee pom pom trim.
5. Cut a piece of parchment or tissue paper for the inside and fill with your treats!

Fresh Orange Centerpiece

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey
Cuisine Apron in White Linen from Libbie Summers Yum Yum Smile Shop
Orange Gingham Trimmed Linen Napkin from Libbie Summers Yum Yum Smile Shop

While your cake is baking, there’s time to make a sweet zesty little centerpiece.
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Fresh Orange Centerpiece
makes 1

What you need:
1 quart wide-mouth mason jar or other clear sided jar
1 clear juice glass or small clear jar that will fit inside the larger jar
1 par scissors
2 oranges, sliced
1 small grouping of orange, yellow and white flowers
2 sprigs fresh rosemary or other herbs/greens
1 small rubber band
1 piece ribbon, jute or twine for tying around neck of jar

What to do:
1. Place the small juice glass or small jar inside the larger jar. (NOTE: You can use putty or tape on the bottom of the juice glass to keep it in place) 2. place orange slices around and down the sides of the large jar between it and the smaller juice glass/jar. The small jar will keep them in place.
3. Make your flower arrangement by grouping the flowers and rosemary together into a sweet bouquet (Don’t overthink this…it will be adorable). Cut ends just long enough to fit inside the juice glass and secure ends with a rubber band.
4. Fill juice glass with water and place bouquet in it. Adjust flowers as needed.
5. Tie ribbon, jute or twine around the neck of the large jar.
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Two Last Minute Gifts From The Kitchen

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

Two fun gifts that require very little time, but pack a big punch! Don’t forget to package them in reuseable containers!

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Everything Bagel Topping Mix
makes 2 cups

What you need:
1/3 cup black sesame seeds
1/3 cup onion flake
1/3 cup garlic flake
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup poppy seeds
1/3 cup flake salt

What to do:
In a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, add all the ingredients and stir together. Cook, stirring constantly until spices start to become fragrant. Remove from heat to a bowl and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Uses:
•Sprinkle over a poke bowl •Top a fried egg •Mix into coleslaw •Sprinkle on a salad •Season roasted vegetables
•Make a compound butter •Sprinkle on a bloody mary •Sprinkle on avocado toast •Season popcorn •Sprinkle on mac and cheese.
•Sprinkle on fried rice •Sprinkle over white rice •Sprinkle over a hot dog •Season grilled vegetables
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Tipsy-Spiced Cherries

What you need:
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cinnamon sticks
1 stem fresh rosemary (optional)
1 ¼ cups Gosling’s Black Seal® Rum
12 ounces frozen Sweet Black Cherries, thawed

What to do:
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the sugar and 1 ¼ cups water. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the cayenne pepper, cinnamon sticks, rosemary (optional) and rum. Cool slightly. Add cherries and let stand 30 minutes. Remove rosemary stem. Store in airtight jars and refrigerate for 3 days before using. Will keep, refrigerated, for up to 2 months.

Uses:
•Spoon over ice cream •Make a Rum Old Fashioned •Use cherries for a Tipsy Black Forest Cake •Spoon onto chocolate mousse.

 

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